Software Testing Tools – Are they really useful? There’s no easy answer to this question. Software testing is a crucial part of the development process, and tools definitely help with this oftentimes overwhelming task. But to be useful, software testing tools must support the testing process.
What does this mean? It means you need to start by understanding the different phases of software testing. For example, do you understand the difference between black box and white box testing? Black box confirms only that the software meets its stated requirements and functions accordingly. White box testing looks at the actual software code to ensure paths, conditions, code statements and branches are written properly.
Do you know which software testing tools work best for unit testing, integration testing or system testing? Each of these testing processes addresses a different aspect or view of the software. Starting to understand that software testing tools are not a “one size fits all” solution?
Some rounds of software testing are better accomplished using humans, not software testing tools. Do you know which ones? Functional testing, alpha testing, acceptance testing and usability testing fall into this category. To confuse matters even a bit further, you’ve got to make sure you’re using the right type of human for the different “human” software testing processes.
Software testers work closely with developers throughout all stages of development and use software testing tools. End users are those individuals for whom the software has been created. Beta testers are humans with more technical backgrounds (generally) who get involved in software testing just before the software is ready to be released into production. They look for last minute bugs and functionality issues. User acceptance testing ensures the resulting software is “user friendly” and satisfies the end users’ needs; also important before the software goes into production.
There are even more phases of software testing that go on during the software development lifecycle. Determining which of the phases are better accomplished using software testing tools and which are better left to human intervention takes effort. In larger development houses, the IT department has a pretty good grasp on this. And they’re the ones who ultimately decide which of the hundreds of software testing tools on the market are best for their development/testing teams; definitely not an easy task.
Software testing tools are themselves software. As such, each of these testing tools undergoes the whole development, testing, maintenance and upgrade cycles that other types of software do. So before making purchasing decisions, it’s best to try out these products, talk with existing users, research the product’s track record, and know how much configuration you’ll need to do to get the product up and running.
And remember, software testing tools can’t work miracles. They cannot make poorly designed software better. They can’t do anything about unrealistic development schedules. And most importantly, software testing tools will never work properly if management or others are allowed to continually change software specifications after development has begun.