Early & Static Testing: Life-Changing Benefits for Your Application

Igor Kovalenko by Igor Kovalenko on 11/16/2022

Early & Static Testing: Life-Changing Benefits for Your Application

This post was originally posted on https://hackernoon.com/

Early testing is one of the seven software testing principles, which implies that the testing process should start as early as possible.

In my experience, though, I often see this principle being neglected, and QA teams get to testing after the software product has already been developed. As a result, there is not enough time to cover all the functional and non-functional aspects of a product. This leads to the release of a product with errors that end users find sooner or later. 

How to Prevent Critical Errors In a Digital Product?

My answer is not that complicated: you should involve in the product development all people who will be responsible for its quality in the future. Meaning, the QA team that is going to improve the quality of the product through various activities, should get to the working process as soon as possible.

Clearly, it all depends on the project, software product, and methodology the whole team uses to develop it. But since most of the teams prefer Agile in their work, QA processes should take place far before the digital product is done.

Software product testing without executing the code is called static testing. Quality assurance teams, as well as other people in charge of the product’s future, should perform the static testing practices at the starting phase of the project.

Why Early Testing Is Crucial for Your Product’s Quality, Cost and Safety

Early testing is similar to healthy lifestyle tips and tricks we have known for years. Drinking enough water and doing morning exercises are beneficial, but even talking about it is boring. Here, I want to give you a different perspective on why early testing is essential, which may motivate you to implement it right away.

Preventing design and code defects

Early testing is necessary to define inaccuracies, contradictions, mismatches, and redundant requirements. It helps prevent not only over-expenditure but also disastrous events, like the Therac-25 case. The case that truly shocked me. 

Therac-25, a machine designed by the Canadian AECL, was supposed to deliver radiological treatment to cancer patients. Instead, it was actually gradually “burning” them to death. First complaints were not heard, as the company’s engineers claimed such inaccuracies in radiology settings were “impossible.” 

The problem wasn’t solved even after the AECL did some bug fixing and returned the machines to hospitals. Later, experts proved that the primary cause was a general poor software design and close to atrocious development practices. Whatever wrong was with Therac-25, it could not have been solved after release or at the last development stages. 

Laying a foundation for dynamic testing

You plan a paella for dinner. Reaching for the rice, find out that it is mixed with lentils. You spend 20 minutes separating the grains. Furthermore, you turn on the oven just to realize that the electric circuit cut from yesterday was not fixed. And so it goes at every stage. There is no way to cook a delicious meal on time if the preparation stages were failed. The same happens with late-stage dynamic testing without the static-testing stage.  

Dynamic testing harbors enough challenges, such as detecting run-time errors right before the release, and should be done in the prepared environment. Early-stage static testing lays the groundwork for what comes next, ensuring that the upcoming more complex test focuses on more high-level matters.

Increasing development productivity 

The design improvements or code optimization raises the overall development productivity. Bugs are kept from proliferation, and a team receives invaluable first-level feedback. It is more often than not that during dynamic testing, repeating errors are detected. Developers have both effective coding patterns and wrong patterns that lead to reoccurring mistakes. If they receive feedback on those mistakes early, minor bugs don’t have a chance to turn into broad branching trees of interconnected errors. 

Saving money and time 

Normally, the software development life cycle is presented as a group of blocks: Planning, Analysis & Design, Code & Build, and only then — Testing. It is one of those simplified schematics that can add up to an extra 100% to your development cost and time. The earlier you find the bugs, the cheaper it is to get rid of them.

Dealing with mismatching instructions at the requirements’ elicitation stage costs you close to nothing, as everything is done within flow. Bugs detected at the architecture or construction stage are already up to five times more expensive to fix. Every error that could be detected by early testing but was missed and has to be fixed post release may take 100 times more in cost and time.

3-How to prevent critical errors

By introducing early testing, you minimize costs for dynamic testing and ensure less frequent failures in the later development phases and after the release. 

Improving communication in the team

A better understanding of the product specifics is achieved in meetings at earlier stages. Specialists start communicating and finding discrepancies in requirements much earlier than failed designs, and mismatched instructions turn into a code. 

Testers and developers get more engaged in making the product quality at each stage, not waiting until the final testing process is launched. Often, it helps to find better solutions for a software product than the ones initially designed. Also, thanks to early testing, dynamic testing is designed with more precision by all the agents.

What Is Checked During the Static Testing?

  • Specifications: things like business requirements, functional requirements, and security requirements. If your team thoroughly examined the product requirements, has experience with similar projects, and possesses relevant expertise in the sphere, they will be able to detect the potential defects affecting the product functionality at the early stage. Specifications should be evaluated from the business, functionality, and security perspectives.
  • Epics, stories, and finished product acceptance criteria. As the team has all the specifications tested, they can start validating the epics and stories that will be used as a base for future test cases. At this step, the QA team also defines the criteria the product has to meet before the release.
  • Design. By having tested the specifications, epics, and stories, software testers have to compare them to the design mockups in order to find inaccuracies or contradictions.
  • Code. If there’s a QA team member qualified enough to evaluate the code before the execution, they can review the codebase to spot potential bugs.
  • Testing software, test artifacts, procedures, and automation scripts. Here, you can define and statically test all the materials and programs we’re going to use during the dynamic testing.
  • User manual. Guided by the product requirements and functions, testing engineers can check guides and manuals designed to teach the users operating it.
  • Planning documentation. Here, the QA team has to test contracts, project plans, schedule, and the estimated budget.
  • Configuration and infrastructure setup. Knowing the product requirements, you can test different configurations and infrastructure settings that are necessary for the use of it.

All the above-listed activities are performed by different QA team members depending on their expertise, skills, and professional experience.

2-How to prevent critical errors

Summing Up

The biggest success of a software development team is the positive feedback from end-users, who managed to solve some of their problems with your application.

To get such a result, right after the project initiation, the team has to think through all the activities helpful in making the digital product correspond to user expectations. To achieve that, your QA team has to check on every development stage, perform verification and validation, use all the advantages of static testing, execute all the necessary techniques of dynamic testing, and maintain effective communication during the project course.

The earlier you start testing the product and its development processes, the more polished it appears in front of the end-users. The fewer bugs users spot in the application, the higher is the trust for the company released it. And if the product functions as planned as corresponds to the user expectations ― that is the real success of the team and the whole company that worked on it.

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Written by
Igor Kovalenko, Team Lead at TestFort

QA Team Lead. An experienced QA engineer with deep knowledge and broad technical background in the financial and banking sector. Igor started as a software tester, but his professionalism, dedication to personal growth, and great people skills quickly led him to become one of the best QA Team Leads in the company. In his free time, Igor enjoys reading psychological books, swimming, and ballroom dancing.

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