Software testing is essential to software development, and having a suitable test environment is equally important. A test environment, also known as QA environment, combines hardware and software that replicates the production environment and is used for testing applications. Test environments are established to provide a controlled setting for testing, allowing software testers to validate the behavior and performance of an application before deployment to production.
Setting up a suitable test environment is critical for successful software testing, which involves creating a test bed in software testing. This article will discuss what constitutes a test environment and its influence on software testing.
What is a Test Environment?
A test environment is a virtual space where software tests are conducted. It includes the server that powers the test and all the hardware and software configurations needed for whatever project or uses case you’re testing. This can include devices, browsers, operating systems, automation frameworks, network configuration, data streaming over the cloud, etc. QAs run the software here to ensure it works properly before being released to the public. A test environment aims to ensure you get an identical result each time you run tests.
Ideally, test environments should be able to replicate the real-world conditions in which a website or app is expected to run. This helps the QAs find bugs likely to show up for the end-users.
Example of a Test Environment:
For example, an e-Commerce app under development must be tested to ensure it works on different phones (like iPhones and Android phones), browsers, operating systems, networks, and other real-world situations. To do this, you need to set up a test environment with all the tools necessary for running tests (either manual or automated). This way, you can ensure the app works perfectly on every device.
Quick Note: “test environment” and “test bed” can be confusing. They have some similarities, but there is a big difference between them. A test bed is an environment that has already been given the information needed for specific tests to work. For example, if you wanted to try out a new video game, you would need to have all the necessary data set up in the testing environment so that it would work properly.
If you’re testing an app to record attendance for online classes, you’ll need to enter valid data points into the test environment. This will create a ‘test bed’ where the app can be tested and monitored. You won’t be able to get real students to join the virtual class at different times, so you’ll have to input fake data instead. The report should include each student’s name, attendance status (present or absent), and when they joined the class.
The Necessity of the Test Environment in Software Testing
Development teams cannot release software for public usage without thoroughly checking that it provides the best possible user experience. Given the number of providers vying for success in each industry, users have multiple apps and websites that will offer the products and services they want.
Therefore, if a team releases inadequately tested, buggy, glitchy software, users will not think twice about uninstalling an app or leaving a website. They have numerous other options, so why stick with a bad app?
Comprehensive testing covering all software features can only be conducted in an accurately configured test environment. When we say “accurately configured,” we refer to all necessary elements required to run particular tests. For example, if you’re testing to check how quickly a site loads in 2G internet on an iPhone 14, the test environment should give you access to a real iPhone 14 and a network throttler to switch between different internet strengths.
Don’t Skip the Checklist: Why Software Must Verify ‘Right’ with Multiple Prerequisites
Compatibility with multiple devices, browsers, and operating systems
Solid functionality under challenging conditions: weak network, low battery, etc.
Robust, responsive design that allows it to render flawlessly on different screen sizes and resolutions
Ability to handle interruptions such as incoming calls and messages, notifications from other apps, etc.
Industry-best security mechanisms to protect sensitive customer data
The ability to handle sudden spikes in user requests without crashing
A clean, intuitive UI that users can quickly and easily navigate without hassle or confusion
Testers need a special place to check if the software they’re working on meets all the requirements (and more). In this environment, they can see any problems and tell developers what needs to be fixed. Test environments are also critical when testing unusual scenarios where the software has to handle extreme conditions. This is especially important for apps like medical and banking ones. The perfect test environment should have the same browsers, gadgets, and operating systems people use when accessing the software. For example, Testsigma users can choose from 800+ browsers and 2000+ devices in their cloud-hosted lab or use their local browser/device.
Types of Test Environment
A test environment is a set of conditions created for testing purposes. It can be physical or virtual and is used to test software applications’ functionality, performance, and reliability. Several types of test environments can be used in software development and testing.
Performance Testing Environment:
This environment is required to test how the software works in reaction to usage in the real world. This includes page load speed, stability, reliability, user input response, etc.
System Integration Testing Environment:
In this environment, testers verify if all software modules – code, third-party apps, client and server apps, and shared databases – can interact with each other as required to fulfil user commands.
Know more on Androin Integration Testing here
User Acceptance Testing Environment:
Testers monitor if the software is easy to use for the end-users. Generally, these tests require a sample group of target users browsing the app/site and giving feedback.
Know the difference between Acceptance Testing and System Testing here- Acceptance Test VS System Test
Security Testing Environment:
As the name suggests, this environment facilitates the verification of any software’s security mechanisms. Ideally, the software must be able to guard user data and its internal logic from hackers, malicious programs, viruses, malware, and other threats. Tests must also be triggered to validate the software’s authentication and validation capabilities.
Chaos Testing Environment:
Chaos testing checks how the software responds when exposed to sudden pressure or stress. For example, how would a shopping app handle the drastic increase in user traffic and purchase requests? This is mandatory to minimize unexpected downtime and sudden crashes.
End-to-End Testing Environment:
Once all modules have successfully integrated, alpha testing verifies the software’s end-to-end functionality. This is necessary to ensure that every application feature performs according to business requirements and user expectations.
Know here in detail about the Top 10 End to End Testing Tools
Beta Testing Environment:
At the final stage of QA, the software is released to a limited number of end-users to monitor real-world performance. When actual users handle an app/site, unpredictable bugs may show up due to a gap in test requirements and planning. Beta testing prevents those bugs from causing large-scale user dissatisfaction.Beta Testing needs a staging environment to be executed, completed, and provide legitimate results for analysis.
What is a Staging Environment?
The staging environment is like a practice run for the software that will eventually be used. It’s a way to ensure it works well on different browsers, devices, and operating systems. It also helps check how quickly pages load and whether the design looks good, no matter your device. This doesn’t apply to all tests, though – just those involving users. It’s a way of ensuring everything works properly before it goes live!
While detecting and eliminating every bug or issue is rarely possible, the staging environment goes a long way toward doing so. All major and minor version updates should ideally be battle-tested in staging before being approved for final deployment. If feasible, it is recommended that all code changes go through the gamut of tests required in a stage so that the final product can be as pristine as humanly possible.
Key Elements of a Test Environment
While specifics of a test environment will vary based on the product, user expectations, team budget, and resource allocation, the following elements serve as the basics:
Data required to prep the test bed
The testing server
Relevant network configurations
The right hardware and software for test execution – multiple devices, browsers, and OS combination
Test automation frameworks
Robust test documentation tools
Integrations that support software development best practices such as CI/CD, Shift Left Testing, and Continuous Testing.
Process of Software Test Environment Setup
Creating a test environment is essential to ensure software applications work correctly. Here are the five steps to setting up a test environment:
Determine the Requirements:
To start, figure out what you need to test. That includes figuring out what hardware and software you’ll need. Ensure the stuff you use for testing is similar to the stuff used in production, so your tests are accurate.
Plan the Setup:
Once you’ve figured out what to test, the next step is to plan how you will do it. That means picking the right tech stuff—like computers and software—and figuring out how they all work together. Making a detailed plan will help ensure everything goes smoothly when you set it up.
Install and Configure the Required Software:
The next thing to do is to get the right software and set it up. This includes your computer’s operating system, extra programs (middleware), and an application server. You need to configure each piece of software to meet your identified needs.
Configure the Test Data:
Before you start testing an application, creating and configuring test data is important. This test data should be based on the specific test cases identified for the application.
Test the Environment:
The last thing to do is check that everything works properly. You should run some tests to ensure the app functions and performs as it should. If there are any problems, you need to fix them before you finish testing.
To ensure your software testing is successful, it’s imperative to manage your test environment well. That means taking care of the test environment throughout the process, from getting everything ready for testing to running the tests. Here are some key things to remember when managing your test environment:
Establish Test Environment Standards:
Ensuring that all your testing environments are the same is essential to ensure everything works the same way each time. It would help if you ensured that all the hardware, software, settings, and data are the same in each environment.
Centralizing test environment management can help make managing things easier, reduce unnecessary work, and make it easier to see what’s happening. Keeping everything in one place can help you stay organized and keep track of different environments and their settings.
Implement Environment Version Control:
Environment version control helps keep track of changes to the test environment, like hardware and software settings. This ensures the environment is always the same and dependable during different testing stages.
Using automation to set up a testing environment can help save time and energy. Virtualization and containerization are two ways that you can use to make the process of setting up easier.
Monitor and Control Access:
Ensuring that only authorized people can enter the test environment is essential for keeping it safe and reliable. Only give access to those with permission, and keep track of any changes made.
Schedule and Manage Environment Maintenance:
Keeping up with the test environment ensures it’s always working and dependable. You should plan and manage activities like fixing bugs, improving features, and making backups.
Conduct Regular Environment Audits:
Regular checks on the testing environment can help spot any problems or missing pieces. How often you do these checks depends on the environment’s complexity and importance.
Collaborate with Other Teams:
Working with other groups, like the people who make the software, keep it running, and get it out to customers, is critical so that your testing matches how quickly you can get it out. This helps ensure your software is high quality and gets released faster.
Test Environment Checklist
Having a good test environment is super important when testing software. To ensure everything is ready to go, it’s a great idea to have a checklist of what needs to be done before you start. Here are some key things that should be on your test environment checklist:
The hardware configuration checklist should include everything you need to test, like servers, computers, network stuff, and storage. The checklist should also tell you what kind of hardware you need, like how powerful the processor is, how much memory it has, how much storage space it has, and its network speed. Ensuring everything matches what you need for testing is essential for good results.
The software configuration checklist should include the software components required for testing, such as the operating system, middleware, application server, and database. The checklist should also include details of the software versions and configurations. Ensuring the software configuration meets the testing requirements and is properly installed and configured is critical for effective testing.
Test Data Configuration
It’s essential to ensure you have all the right stuff before testing. The checklist should include what test cases, scenarios, scripts, and data sets you need for your tests. It should also list where the data is coming from and what format it’s in. Having everything ready before you start will make sure your testing goes smoothly.
Access and Security
It’s important to ensure that only the right people can access your test environment. The checklist should include what security measures are in place, who can use them, and how they get access. It should also explain how to take away access if needed. Keeping the test environment secure is key for making sure everything runs smoothly.
Maintenance and Support
It’s important to make sure your testing goes smoothly. That’s why you should have a checklist with information on keeping up with the test environment. Things like installing patches, upgrades, backups, and disaster recovery plans should be included. Also, ensure the list details who you can contact for help and what steps to take if there’s a problem. Keeping up with the test environment is key for successful testing!
Major Challenges in Setting Up a Test Environment
Acquiring necessary Browsers and Devices:
For any software test to deliver accurate results, it must be checked for functionality in real-world conditions. You cannot depend on emulators and simulators because of their inability to replicate what real devices deal with. For example, most emulators cannot mimic the experience of low device battery or incoming calls. However, if testers do not monitor app performance in those conditions, there is a high likelihood that the app will crash in end-users’ hands.
However, purchasing enough devices and configuring them with the right browsers/OSes is expensive, time-confusing, and relatively tedious. The costs are recurring, too, as you must keep buying newly released devices and maintaining and updating your in-house setup.
Once again, it’s much easier and cheaper to use a cloud platform like Testsigma that allows automated testing on 800+ devices and 2000+ browsers on a single plan.
The importance of automated testing is beyond question. To keep up with market demand for faster releases, development teams have to automate processes as much as possible, or they risk slowing down and releasing software long after their competitors do.
However, automation testing is generally more complicated than manual testing since test scripts need to be created to instruct the framework on how to execute each test step. This requires a fair bit of technical knowledge, thus restricting the process to individuals with a specific background. Consequently, non-tech personnel on a team cannot contribute to tests in any meaningful way, limiting the potential for collaboration and even faster results.
But platforms like Testsigma have remedied this by letting users write end-to-end tests for web, mobile apps, & APIs in simple English instead of framework-specific code. In other words, non-tech individuals can create test steps for any scenario by recording user actions or describing them in simple English.
This bolsters your test environment to be more prosperous and productive. More tests can be run because practically anyone can write and run them, but the tests cover more software areas because they include unique insights from business-level stakeholders.
Test environments help you accomplish the entire point of Quality Assurance: the actual testing. However, an inadequately configured and supported test environment can only return sub-par results – ones that are not reliable enough to guarantee solid post-deployment performance.
Fortunately, QA teams have the option to access an industry-best test environment without having to invest exorbitant amounts of money, work hours, and effort. Cloud platforms like Testsigma provide a perfectly calibrated, widely intuitive, and exceptionally usable test environment supported by the right resources (real browsers & devices) while accessible on the pocket.
Best Practices for Setting up a Test Environment
Creating a test environment is an integral part of software testing, and following these tips will help ensure that your test environment is set up right so you can start testing. Here’s what you should do when setting up a test environment:
Define What You Need: Before testing, know exactly what hardware, software, configurations, and test data you need. This will help ensure your environment is properly set up for the tests.
Automate the Setup Process: Automating the setup of your test environment can save time and effort. Tools like virtualization and containerization can help with this process.
Use Standard Settings: To ensure your results are reliable across different testing phases, use standardized configurations for your test environment. This will also save time when setting up the environment.
Ensure your test environment is secure: Keeping it safe is essential, so the testing process is not messed up. Only people who are allowed should have access, and you need to use firewalls and other security measures like intrusion detection systems.
Keep up with regular maintenance of the test environment: Regular maintenance helps ensure it’s available for testing when needed.
Set clear rules for changing stuff in your test environment: Having clear rules about what can or can’t change in the test environment helps make sure everything stays organized and tracked correctly. Any changes made should be written down, tested first, and approved before implementation.
A cloud platform like Testsigma provides an easy-to-use testing environment with all the right resources (like real browsers and devices). Plus, it won’t break your budget!
Ultimately, the test environment is essential for software testing because it’s where all the tests happen. If your test environment is well, you can test effectively and get a quality software product. But if it’s not set up right, your tests won’t work correctly, and you won’t get a good result. To ensure you have a great test environment, there are some best practices you should follow, like setting clear goals, using automation to set it up, having standardized configurations, making sure security is tight, doing regular maintenance checks, and having a plan for how changes should be handled.
At Testsigma, we provide a comprehensive suite of tools to help you manage your testing process. Our platform lets you quickly and easily set up your test environment, create and organize test cases, execute tests, and generate reports. Plus, our user-friendly interface and integrations with popular tools make it easy for anyone to use our platform. And with expert support always available when needed, Testsigma is the perfect solution for your testing needs!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you identify a test environment?
A test environment is a platform that enables you to check if your software works properly. It has all the tools, programs, and settings you need to ensure your software does what it should.
What is a good test environment?
A good testing environment is set up correctly and ready to go. To check out the software, it should have all the necessary tech, like hardware, software, settings, and test info. Plus, it should be secure, always accessible, and dependable.
What is the difference between QA and a test environment?
QA (Quality Assurance) is a way of making sure that a software program meets the standards it’s supposed to. A test environment is like a platform where you can try the software and check if it works properly. It’s part of the QA process, as it helps ensure the software does what it should.
What is Test Bed in Software Testing?
A test bed in software testing is a setup that includes all the stuff you need to do a specific type of testing. It’s like creating a real-world situation to see how the software works under different conditions. The test bed is part of the bigger test environment and can be used for things like functional testing, performance testing, and security testing.