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7 Principles of Software Testing to Ace your Testing Process

January 19, 2024Pricilla Bilavendran
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How to ace your Software testing process using the 7 Testing Principles
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It’s already 2023, and as we all know, software testing has advanced significantly. But it doesn’t imply we should ignore the fundamentals or the basics. The “7 Principles of Software Testing” are such basics that we should always adhere to. You may have studied these concepts as part of your ISTQB certification training when you started your testing career.

Did you just forget about them after reading the book, as you did with previous theoretical papers? Or do you continue to adhere to or follow these principles in your day-to-day testing activities? We should follow particular processes for testing activities, which may appear more difficult at first, but will save us a lot of time in the long run.

As a quality assurance measure, testing is essential to the software development process. By testing the software, developers can ensure that the product meets the requirements and is free of defects.

There are various types of testing that can be employed, depending on the stage of development. For example, unit testing is conducted on individual components or modules, while integration testing focuses on the interactions between different modules/components. System testing is a comprehensive testing approach that covers the entire system, from end to end. 

So, let us go through the principles of Software testing that every software tester should be aware of in-depth, these will be helpful in all stages of testing.

Why are Software Testing Principles Important?

Software testing principles are important for ensuring the quality and reliability of software applications. Here’s why they matter:

  1. Early Bug Detection: Testing principles detect defects early, preventing them from escalating into larger problems in production.
  2. Better Software Quality: Adhering to testing standards leads to higher-quality software that fulfills user expectations.
  3. Risk Mitigation: The testing principles detect and reduce possible risks, improving software security and performance.
  4. Enhanced client Confidence: Thorough testing increases client trust and pleasure with the software.
  5. Cost Savings: Testing principles save time and resources by preventing costly rework and problem fixes.
  6. Compliance and Standards: Testing principles aid in meeting industry and regulatory standards.
  7. Iterative Development: Adhering to testing principles develops a learning and iterative development culture.

These ideas emphasize the significance of testing principles in producing dependable and high-quality software.

Read here – Principles of Automation

What are the 7 Principles of Software Testing?

Below are the 7 fundamental principles :

  1. Testing shows the presence of defects
  2. Exhaustive testing is impossible
  3. Early testing
  4. Defect clustering
  5. Pesticide paradox
  6. Testing is context dependent
  7. Absence-of-errors fallacy

1. Testing shows the presence of defects (not their absence)

Who doesn’t love identifying defects? We’d all like to. Every product or web application I use will have defects 😀. Primarily, we conduct testing to identify flaws and deviations. We concentrate on the faults and vulnerable modules.

Also, we perform different types of testing to uncover the defects. Once the software has been developed and tested, it is ready for release. However, in some cases, defects may still be present. In these cases, it is important to have a process in place for tracking and resolving defects.

Because there are still a few defects in the system that you were unable to discover for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t imply we’re not competent. This issue can be mitigated by updating or revising the scenarios and test data. As a result, we can endeavor to develop day by day.

2. Exhaustive testing is impossible

Exhaustive testing is impossible. You cannot utilize every permutation and combination feasible. That’s why we have to rely on the heuristics and best practices to guide our testing efforts. We use our business and domain knowledge to test efficiently

There are several reasons why exhaustive testing isn’t really possible. The first point is that testing anything and everything is impossible. Second, testing everything in a reasonable timeframe is impossible. Third, it is difficult to foresee every single problem. Fourth, it is hard to predict how the test will be performed. Finally, exhaustive testing is impossible to validate.

There is no such thing as a perfect test in software testing. There will always be some edge cases that we get to neglect or sections of the code that are more complex than others. That is why it is critical to employ a range of testing approaches and to always seek new ways to improve our testing process.

No matter how much time and effort we put into it, some bugs will always creep through the gaps. We can only do our best to reduce the number of potential issues and ensure that we have a comprehensive testing methodology to capture as many of them as possible.

3. Early testing

Testing is a critical component of software development. Early testing, on the other hand, is critical since it helps developers to detect and correct problems before they become mainstream. Also, this saves a lot of money and effort. 

Conducting user testing is one of the greatest methods to uncover problems early on. When a user tests software, they undertake tasks that are essential to them. This enables developers to learn how users interact with the product and assess if the features and design are functioning properly.

User testing may also assist developers to assess whether a proposed feature is feasible. They can evaluate if consumers will find the new feature beneficial and whether it will create any problems by testing it with a group of users.

Early testing is critical for a number of reasons. For instance, it can detect possible problems early on, before they trigger significant problems. Early testing can also assist to enhance the overall quality of the completed product. Finally, early testing can assist to enhance development efficiency by letting developers focus on correcting issues that are discovered early on.

4. Defect Clustering

Defect clustering refers to the tendency for faults to concentrate in particular areas of code. This might be due to a variety of variables, such as how the code is designed, how the team is organized, or just how the human brain works.

For whatever reason, defect clustering can have a significant impact on your development process. If the majority of your defects are concentrated in one region of code, you’ll spend most of your time and effort repairing them there.

It is a problem-solving technique that helps identify and resolve defects in products. It is based on the observation that defects are often grouped together in clusters.

As anyone in software development knows, defects are inevitable. But what many people don’t realize is that defects tend to cluster together. Here’s what you need to know about defect clustering and how to deal with it effectively.

Have you heard about Pareto Principle

The Pareto principle states that for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes (the “vital few”). Other names for this principle are the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity.

Knowing this might be very useful for your testing; if we identify one problem in a certain module/area, there is a good probability we will find many more. Identifying the most complicated components, or regions with the greatest dependencies or change, for example, might help you focus your testing on the most critical risk areas. This should always be the primary consideration when planning future test activities.

5. Pesticide Paradox

The pesticide paradox describes how, while pesticides are intended to kill pests, they frequently have the opposite effect. That is, they have the potential to boost insect populations. This paradox arises because pesticide usage might result in the evolution of insect resistance. When this occurs, insecticides no longer efficiently kill the bugs, allowing the pests to thrive.

Similarly, the same testing technique and test scenarios may not help in the discovery of new defects. As software testers, we must always strive to improve test quality in order to offer a high-quality product. We must also regularly evaluate and examine the Test process, Test cases, Approach, and Test data in order to overcome the Pesticide Paradox. Retrospective meetings can be of greater assistance here.

6. Testing is context-dependent

There is no questioning the significance of testing. But understanding when and how to test is much more crucial. There is no right or wrong answer since testing is context-dependent. The idea is to use your best judgment to determine what is appropriate for your individual scenario.

Here are a few things to consider during testing:

1. Do not conduct tests in a vacuum

Make certain that you understand the context in which your code will be utilized. This will assist you in determining what needs to be tested and how to test it.

2. Keep things simple

Try not to test everything all at once. Begin with the fundamentals and progressively add more exams as needed.

3. Be meticulous

Once you’ve determined what needs to be tested, make sure you test every part of it. Testing for both good and negative results is included.

7. Absence-of-errors fallacy

Zero defects identified ≠ Bug-Free Product
Zero defects identified ≠ Bug-Free Product

Testing is performed to guarantee that the software/system is fit for purpose and satisfies the users’ expectations. As a result, finding no defects does not indicate that the product meets the quality and expectations of the customers.

Assuming that something will never happen because it has never happened before. The absence-of-errors fallacy can give the illusion of security. Just because something has never happened before does not exclude it. It is a logical fallacy that occurs when it is assumed that something must be true since it has not been proven to be false. This is sometimes seen in arguments when one person argues, as if it were evidence, “There is no proof that X is true.”

Myth: “Testing Principles Are just for Reference, Not to be Used in Practice” 

This myth couldn’t be further from the truth. Testing principles are crucial in creating an effective Test Strategy and crafting robust test cases that catch errors. It’s like learning to drive for the first time.

When you start learning to drive, you pay attention to every detail: gear shifts, speed control, clutch handling, and more. But as you gain experience, driving becomes second nature. You effortlessly engage in conversations with passengers while seamlessly navigating the road.

Similarly, experienced testers have internalized testing principles to the point of applying them instinctively. They become integral to their testing approach, guiding their decisions without conscious effort. Therefore, the myth that testing principles are not used in practice is unfounded.

Understanding and embracing testing principles empowers testers to deliver high-quality software by leveraging industry best practices. So, let go of this myth and embrace the power of testing principles in your endeavors.

Closing words:

Whatever testing you do, these principles will always be a guiding light to you. Testing is an important part of the software development process and is essential for ensuring the quality of the final product. Software testing is a discipline, and each tester must be disciplined in order to create a seamless and high-quality product. As a result, the methods and principles differ, and we, as testers must be able to adhere to and follow them.

While testing, as in other professions, sometimes there are tasks that become repetitive. One of the solutions to improve productivity, in such cases, is to implement test automation. Testsigma is a test automation tool that lets you automate your end-to-end test cases for web, mobile, API and desktop applications. It is also available as an open-source and free version.

Read more articles written by Sowmya Sridharamurthy:

The Unpleasant Phenomenon In Agile Testing

API testing basics for beginners

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the First Principles of Testing?

There is no set sequence of principles for testing, but essential rules should be followed. These guidelines should be tailored to your endeavors’ unique demands and restrictions. They form the foundation for successful and efficient testing practices, improving software quality and dependability. Adopt and adapt these ideas to your situation to ensure good testing outcomes.

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