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Alternatives to testing

Software testing is more and more considered a problematic method toward better quality. Using testing to locate and correct software defects can be an endless process. Bugs cannot be completely ruled out. Just as the complexity barrier indicates: chances are testing and fixing problems may not necessarily improve the quality and reliability of the software. Sometimes fixing a problem may introduce much more severe problems into the system, happened after bug fixes.

Using formal methods to "prove" the correctness of software is also an attracting research direction. But this method can not surmount the complexity barrier either. For relatively simple software, this method works well. It does not scale well to those complex, full-fledged large software systems, which are more error-prone.

In a broader view, we may start to question the utmost purpose of testing. Why do we need more effective testing methods anyway, since finding defects and removing them does not necessarily lead to better quality. An analogy of the problem is like the car manufacturing process. In the craftsmanship epoch, we make cars and hack away the problems and defects. But such methods were washed away by the tide of pipelined manufacturing and good quality engineering process, which makes the car defect-free in the manufacturing phase. This indicates that engineering the design process (such as clean-room software engineering) to make the product have less defects may be more effective than engineering the testing process. Testing is used solely for quality monitoring and management, or, "design for testability". This is the leap for software from craftsmanship to engineering.

Test techniques

One of the aims of testing is to reveal as much potential for failure as possible, and many techniques have been developed to do this, which attempt to “break” the program, by running one or more tests drawn from identified classes of executions deemed equivalent. The leading principle underlying such techniques is to be as systematic as possible in identifying a representative set of program behaviors; for instance, considering subclasses of the input domain, scenarios, states, and dataflow.

It is difficult to find a homogeneous basis for classifying all techniques, and the one used here must be seen as a compromise. The classification is based on how tests are generated from the software engineer’s intuition and experience, the specifications, the code structure, the (real or artificial) faults to be discovered, the field usage, or, finally, the nature of the application. Sometimes these techniques are classified as white-box, also called glassbox, if the tests rely on information about how the software has been designed or coded, or as black-box if the test cases rely only on the input/output behavior. One last category deals with combined use of two or more techniques. Obviously, these techniques are not used equally often by all practitioners. Included in the list are those that a software engineer should know.

Questions & Answers

steps of developing a software
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johni Reply
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johni
You have developed a prototype of a software system and your manager is very impressed by it. She proposes that it should be put into use as a production sys tem, with new features added as required. This avoids the expense of system dev immediately useful.
johni
You have developed a prototype of a software system and your manager is very impressed by it. She proposes that it should be put into use as a production sys tem, with new features added as required. This avoids the expense of system dev immediately useful.
johni
You have developed a prototype of a software system and your manager is very impressed by it. She proposes that it should be put into use as a production sys tem, with new features added as required. This avoids the expense of system dev immediately useful. Write a short report for your manager expl
johni
You have developed a prototype of a software system and your manager is very impressed by it. She proposes that it should be put into use as a production sys tem, with new features added as required. This avoids the expense of system dev immediately useful.
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Source:  OpenStax, Software engineering. OpenStax CNX. Jul 29, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10790/1.1
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