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Software Walkthrough | What it is, How it works & Examples

December 29, 2023Yamini Priya
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Software Walkthrough
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Imagine gathering around a virtual campfire with your fellow developers, each armed with a flashlight to shine on different corners of the codebase. That’s basically what a software walkthrough is – a collective effort to understand, discuss, and review the software.

Unlike some of its more formal siblings, such as code reviews or inspections, a walkthrough is a bit more laid-back. It’s an opportunity for developers, testers, and stakeholders to share insights into the software’s architecture and behavior.

In this blog, we will discuss software walkthrough, how it works, its importance in the software development lifecycle, and more.

Software Walkthrough

What is a Software Walkthrough?

Software walkthrough is a type of peer review where a designer or programmer guides members of the development team and other stakeholders through a software product. During this process, participants ask questions and comment on potential errors, deviations from development standards, and other issues. 

Also, participants typically go through the various features and functionalities of the software step by step, discussing and analyzing its behavior, design, and functionality. It can include examining the user interface, testing specific functionalities, and reviewing the underlying code or architecture.

Why is a Software Walkthrough Done?

A software walkthrough is done for several reasons. The main reason is that the walkthrough process contributes to the overall improvement of the software development process and the quality of the software product. 

Here are some of the key reasons why it is performed,

  • To gather feedback on the technical quality or content of the document.
  • To familiarize the audience with the software.
  • It helps identify and rectify errors in the early stages of SDLC.
  • Ensures that the software aligns with specific quality standards, guidelines, and best practices.
  • Fosters communication and collaboration among team members. This helps ensure that everyone understands the software’s design, code, and functionality.
  • Promote a culture of continuous improvement by identifying areas for enhancement in the software development process.

How is a Software Walkthrough Done?

The author of the code initiates the software walkthrough. During the walkthrough, the author reads through the code or document, and others in the meeting take notes on key points or jot down observations about defects, providing suggestions. 

It is an informal way of software testing, and no formal authority is involved in this process.

When is a Software Walkthrough Needed?

It is required at various stages of the software development lifecycle to ensure a software product’s quality, correctness, and completeness. Here are common scenarios when a software walkthrough is typically needed,

  • Helps clarify ambiguity in the software requirements, if any.
  • To review the architecture and design of the software
  • To review the source code
  • Walkthrough in software testing is crucial. It is an informal way of testing the software.
  • It is valuable for reviewing the software documentation
  • Helps with smooth onboarding and knowledge transfer

Who Does Software Walkthrough

It is conducted by a designer or programmer. The other participants may include stakeholders, testers, managers, assessors, specialists, the documentation team, and more.

Where is a Software Walkthrough Done?

It is usually conducted in a collaborative and interactive setting, often within a meeting or dedicated session. Some of the places where software walkthroughs can be done include:

  • Meeting rooms or conference rooms
  • Virtual meetings
  • Within the development environments
  • Dedicated and scheduled review sessions
  • In testing environments

Scenarios/Examples where Software Walkthrough is Useful

Let’s understand the software walkthrough with a scenario where it can be useful for software teams. Imagine that a developer has developed an AI-driven cloud application like Testsigma that allows users to automate web, mobile, desktop, and API tests using a single platform in a fast and efficient way. Now, let’s take an instance where a software walkthrough can benefit the software teams at this stage. 

Software walkthrough example

Scenario – User interface inspection

In this stage, the designer/developer starts by explaining the user interface, code, design, user flow, and more about the software product to everyone involved in the walkthrough process. 

It is valuable for inspecting user interface designs and prototypes. Designers, developers, and stakeholders can collectively evaluate the user experience, identify potential usability issues, and ensure alignment with user expectations.

Advantages of Software Walkthrough

Some of the advantages include:

  • Identify defects in the software products.
  • To gain a complete understanding of the software product development process.
  • To explain and discuss the information in the document.
  • To verify the validity of the system.
  • To provide constructive suggestions and report them alongside new solutions and ideas.
  • Acts as a “proof of concept” at an early stage.

Disadvantages of Software Walkthrough

Some of the disadvantages include,

  • Walkthroughs can be time-consuming, especially if the software being reviewed is complex. Participants may need significant time to go through the code or documentation thoroughly.
  • Conducting a walkthrough requires the availability of key personnel, including developers, testers, and other stakeholders. 
  • It is prone to human error. Since software walkthrough is done manually, there is a risk of overlooking issues due to human error. Participants may miss important details, leading to incomplete reviews.
  • It is not suitable for large projects as the size of the project may make it more challenging to review thoroughly.
  • Walkthroughs are generally more effective for functional aspects of the software rather than non-functional requirements like performance, scalability, or security.
  • In some cases, software walkthroughs may focus on surface-level issues and may not uncover deep-rooted or systemic problems within the software architecture or design.
  • Conducting walkthroughs becomes more challenging when team members are located in different locations and time zones.
  • There is no scope for automated testing as walkthroughs are manual processes. 
  • It lacks diversity as the author drives the process, and others only validate if what has been said matches what has been done.

Best Practices

Here are some best practices for conducting effective software walkthroughs:

  • Clearly define the objectives and scope of the walkthrough. Make sure that participants understand the specific goals and areas to be covered during the walkthrough.
  • Participants, including the author and reviewers, should be well-prepared. 
  • Schedule the walkthrough at a time that is convenient for all participants. 
  • Encourage active participation from all team members. This includes asking questions, providing feedback, and expressing concerns. A collaborative atmosphere promotes constructive criticism and improvement.
  • Take notes, that is, document feedback, questions, and suggestions during the walkthrough. These notes can be valuable for the author to make improvements after the session.
  • Promote a culture of giving and receiving feedback.

Challenges

Some of the challenges of the walkthrough software testing are as follows,

  • Walkthroughs require time and effort from multiple stakeholders, including developers, testers, and other team members. Scheduling and coordinating these sessions can be challenging, especially in fast-paced development environments.
  • Getting key stakeholders to participate in the walkthrough can be difficult. 
  • Ineffective communication can hinder the success of a walkthrough.
  • Simulating real-world scenarios during a walkthrough may be challenging. Issues related to performance, scalability, or usability under actual usage conditions may not be effectively identified.
  • Participants may have varying perspectives and interpretations of the software documentation or code. 
  • Team members from different cultural backgrounds or hierarchical levels may face challenges expressing their opinions freely. 

Conclusion

A software walkthrough is a valuable process in the software development lifecycle that brings together cross-functional teams to review and understand the various aspects of a software project. It serves as a collaborative and interactive method for identifying issues, ensuring alignment with requirements, and enhancing the overall quality of the software.

By embracing software walkthroughs, development teams can build robust software and cultivate a culture of collaboration, learning, and continuous improvement.



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