The Evolution of Software Testing

Quality is Timeless

Quality assurance has existed for centuries. Nearly every industry has embraced some type of vetting process to ensure that the products or services they deliver meet the needs of their consumers. 

Software development is no different. While software, as we know it today, is still a relatively new phenomenon, it has become such a fixture of the modern landscape that most of us can’t imagine our lives without it. And given its pivotal role, the QA testing process plays an essential role in the software development lifecycle, ensuring that software is functional, high-performing, and user-friendly.

At BairesDev, we have designated, skilled QA specialists working side by side with the software engineers to deliver high-quality software and technology. We rely on methodologies that have been honed and have evolved over decades. How did these ideas come together? Here’s a brief history of software QA.

Client Value Creation

The Dawn of Software Testing

While working at Harvard University, Grace Murray Hopper, a computer programming pioneer, found a moth that had caused the Mark II Aiken Relay computer to malfunction in 1947. This was the first noted instance of a computer bug, although the term had been used in the context of science and technology since at least the 19th century. The incident shed light on the concept that computers needed to be debugged. 

Testing was initially hardware-focused, but in 1949, Alan Turing posited the idea that software needed to meet certain requirements and goals. He was the innovator of tests like the Turing Test, which compares the intelligence of a computer to that of a human. This, along with Charles Baker suggesting that testing was separate from debugging, led to the QA process becoming more comprehensive than simply ensuring that systems were functional.

Glenford J. Myers later reconceptualized testing as attempting to identify errors rather than trying to ensure a system’s perfection — an impossible feat. 

The PC Era

The advent of the personal computer in the 1980s forever changed technology — and the world. With it came the need for user-friendly software that would meet the needs of the many computer users who were no longer simply tech workers but also the general public. 

With the introduction of software compatible with PCs came the need for testing that would examine how it performed in a range of environments and scenarios, given the many different systems that were emerging. And, because of the demand for these impressive devices, it had to be done quickly.

Automation at the Forefront

Automation gained traction in the early 2000s. With QA testing underscored as a vital process in software development, it became clear that a more efficient means of conducting that process was necessary. Automation not only meant speedier testing but also allowed for improved types of testing, such as regression testing. This also meant businesses could produce much more software in bulk.

The Waterfall Era

First described, although not named, by Winston W. Royce in 1970, the waterfall method was the standard approach to software development for decades. It consisted of the following phases:

  • Requirements
  • System design
  • Implementation
  • Testing
  • Deployment
  • Maintenance

This meant that testing was considered as entirely distinct from software development and that QA specialists entered the process near the end of development and shortly before the product’s release.

Introducing Agile

Agile was introduced in 2000. This approach prioritizes collaboration and the end-user, following 12 principles laid out in The Agile Manifesto. To an extent, this approach revolutionized the role of the QA tester. Rather than separating development from testing, Agile reimagined them as intertwined. 

Here, quality is the responsibility of the entire software development team, not just QA professionals. Moreover, testing starts much earlier than it does in the waterfall approach — the testers are involved from the very beginning, and the lines between tester and developer are less distinct from one another. This ultimately leads to more efficient software delivery overall.

...And DevOps

DevOps, which emerged in 2009, shares similar ideologies with Agile and includes several overlapping concepts. The model blends development and operations to focus on the continuous delivery of software. As with Agile, DevOps prioritizes collaboration and considers the end-user. It also focuses on value, which translates to increased testing. 

Lean management and efficient delivery are two important features of DevOps, and they depend on continuous testing, mitigating risks, and issues before they threaten to derail software development. Automation assists with the goal of meeting these demands and is vital to this delivery model, too.

The State of Software Testing Today

So, what does software QA testing look like today? 

Many development teams, including BairesDev, embrace Agile and DevOps, which means that the principles that govern these approaches extend to both the software development and QA testing, including an emphasis on collaboration and increased focus on quality. The distinctions between development and testing are less clear, with everyone responsible for ensuring that the product meets client and user requirements and expectations.

Testing also covers more ground, with many different types, falling under the categories of either functional or non-functional, in a QA specialist’s toolkit: integration testing, smoke testing, sanity testing, regression testing, performance testing, usability testing, and so on.

Automation has become an integral part of the QA process, speeding up the process. However, skilled QA professionals are careful not to replace manual testing entirely, which is also essential — a machine cannot, for instance, conduct exploratory testing, which isn’t scripted and examines the features and possibilities of a system.

Security has become a vital part of the QA process, too. With increasingly sophisticated attacks posing a threat to technology, testing can serve as a barrier to prevent cybercriminals from putting businesses in serious jeopardy. 

One thing is clear: QA testing is an extremely vital part of the SDLC. If you’re in the software development field, QA is something you can’t afford to neglect.

BairesDev offers both software development and QA testing. These teams are independent but work side by side to deliver high-quality products and ensure that they meet your business’ requirements. Contact us today to learn more.

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