The SQA2 Blog: Advice Center
Software QA testing – how many different types of tests are there? There are many different tests for different types of applications. The types of tests needed while performing QA on an application will vary from project to project. Here are some of the most common types of testing you should consider in the QA industry.
Black box testing:
Not based on any knowledge of internal design or code. Tests are based on requirements and functionality.
White box testing:
Based on knowledge of the internal logic of an application’s code. Tests are based on coverage of code statements, branches, paths, conditions.
The most ‘micro’ scale of testing; to test particular functions or code modules. Typically done by the programmer and not by testers, as it requires detailed knowledge of the internal program design and code. Not always easily done unless the application has a well-designed architecture with tight code; may require developing test driver modules or test harnesses.
Incremental integration testing:
Continuous testing of an application as new functionality is added; requires that various aspects of an application’s functionality be independent enough to work separately before all parts of the program are completed, or that test drivers be developed as needed; done by programmers or by testers.
Testing of combined parts of an application to determine if they function together correctly. The ‘parts’ can be code modules, individual applications, client and server applications on a network, etc. This type of testing is especially relevant to client/server and distributed systems.
Black-box type testing geared to functional requirements of an application; this type of testing should be done by testers. This doesn’t mean that the programmers shouldn’t check that their code works before releasing it (which of course applies to any stage of testing.)
Black-box type testing that is based on overall requirements specifications; covers all combined parts of a system.
Similar to system testing; the ‘macro’ end of the test scale; involves testing of a complete application environment in a situation that mimics real-world use, such as interacting with a database, using network communications, or interacting with other hardware, applications, or systems if appropriate.
Sanity testing or smoke testing:
Typically an initial testing effort to determine if a new software version is performing well enough to accept it for a major testing effort. For example, if the new software is crashing systems every 5 minutes, bogging down systems to a crawl, or corrupting databases, the software may not be in a ’sane’ enough condition to warrant further testing in its current state.
Re-testing after fixes or modifications of the software or its environment. It can be difficult to determine how much re-testing is needed, especially near the end of the development cycle. Automated testing approaches can be especially useful for this type of testing.
Final testing based on specifications of the end-user or customer, or based on use by end-users/customers over some limited period of time.
Testing an application under heavy loads, such as testing of a web site under a range of loads to determine at what point the system’s response time degrades or fails.
Term often used interchangeably with ‘load’ and ‘performance’ testing. Also used to describe such tests as system functional testing while under unusually heavy loads, heavy repetition of certain actions or inputs, input of large numerical values, large complex queries to a database system, etc.
Term often used interchangeably with ’stress’ and ‘load’ testing. Ideally ‘performance’ testing (and any other ‘type’ of testing) is defined in requirements documentation or QA or Test Plans.
Testing for ‘user-friendliness’. Clearly this is subjective, and will depend on the targeted end-user or customer. You can use user interviews, surveys, video recording of user sessions, and other techniques. Programmers and testers are usually not appropriate as usability testers.
Testing of full, partial, or upgrade install/uninstall processes.
Testing how well a system recovers from crashes, hardware failures, or other catastrophic problems.
Typically used interchangeably with ‘recovery testing’
Testing how well the system protects against unauthorized internal or external access, willful damage, etc; may require sophisticated testing techniques.
Testing how well software performs in a particular hardware/software/operating system/network/etc. environment.
It is not based on formal test plans or test cases. Oftentimes, it is a creative, informal software testing approach. Testers may be learning the software as they test it.
Similar to exploratory testing, but often taken to mean that the testers have significant understanding of the software before testing it.
Testing driven by an understanding of the environment, culture, and intended use of software. For example, the testing approach for life-critical medical equipment software would be completely different than that for a low-cost computer game.
User acceptance testing:
Testing software to determine if it is satisfactory to the end-user or customer.
Comparing software weaknesses and strengths to competing products.
Testing of an application when development is nearing completion. You can make minor design changes as a result of alpha testing. Typically done by end-users or others, not by programmers or testers.
Testing when development and testing are essentially completed and final bugs and problems need to be found before final release. Typically done by end-users or others, not by programmers or testers.
A method for determining if a set of test data or test cases is useful, by deliberately introducing various code changes (‘bugs’) and retesting with the original test data/cases to determine if the ‘bugs’ are detected. Proper implementation requires large computational resources.