Testing is a vital tool in the software developer’s tool chest. While many tests are ran, automating the testing process is a way of leveraging the power and speed of software to make sure that complex, multi-functional systems are behaving correctly without solely depending on people who can often forget or even incorrectly test important systems. Automated tests significantly improve the development process from the bottom up and lead to fewer tests. I am going to break down some of this testing and hopefully help you gain a better understanding of how they help check the quality of websites to keep them running smoothly and enhance user satisfaction.
Test Driven Development (TDD)
Unit and Regression Testing
Unit Testing is a method for automatically running and verifying individual functions of code that would normally be triggered by a user working in an application or a website. For example, a user may be required to fill out a form which sends payment information to pay for a product or service. This would be a critical point in a system that performs a few individual functions, and in simplified terms would consist of:
- Gathering the user’s data from the form and making sure everything that needs to be there, is there
- Ensuring that the data is in the format that the payment gateway requires
- Getting a success or failure response from the payment gateway and ensuring it matches our expectations
- Sending a message to the user notifying them of a successful or failed payment
In Unit Testing, each of these four functions would require it’s own individual test. Using test data (called “mocking”), each test can be run as many times as required, and because it’s all controlled by the software, it can be performed nearly instantaneously. If a test fails, the developer knows exactly where the failure occurred and can take the necessary steps to fix the problem without having to spend extra time discovering where the error occurred.
This process is also critical when new functionality is added to an existing process. If an intermediate step was added to our list above, we could continue to run our unit tests to ensure new functionality does not accidentally break existing functionality. This specific type of testing is commonly referred to as regression testing.
Integration testing differs from unit testing in that instead of testing the individual functions that compose a whole feature, it tests the whole feature itself. Using the example above, an integration test for our payment form would generate test data, automatically submit the form, and check the response sent back to the user.
One advantage of integration testing is that tests can be created by non-technical individuals who may not understand how the code itself works, but who are familiar with the processes and the expected results. These tests can be performed nearly instantly and any tests that fail can be handed off to a developer for further investigation.
Validation and Verification Testing
Validation testing is the highest level of testing, typically used in discussions between the client and the development team during the initial design of an application or website.
Validation testing answers the question: Are we building the right product? In other words, software validation makes sure that the requested application or website meets the user’s needs, and that the specifications being implemented by the development team are correct.
These tests may seem a little complicated to the non-developer, but they are a vital part of what we do to keep websites performing at their best and meeting the needs of the user. The automated testing allows for the team to test the systems at a quicker rate while also improving the development process, which in turn produces better running websites, happier users, and more satisfied business owners. If you would like to learn more about website development and how we can help improve your webpage, check out the web development page or contact us today.