Everybody has probably heard that software is tested before it can be “torn into pieces” by the end-user. However, as practice shows, people who are not involved in the software creation process rarely heard of such an abbreviation as QA, and have little idea of how it relates to software testing. Well, we are here to throw some light on this issue. So what is QA? How is it related to software testing? Who is QA tester?, etc. The answers to all these questions and more you can find in this post.
What does QA abbreviation mean
So what is QA? This abbreviation in the following context means quality assurance but usually, they just talk about testing. This is a process that allows you to verify that the developed software meets the standards that were set at the design stage. These can be industry-wide standards (for example, in the field of usability, that is, the convenience of the application to use), and requirements for a specific project in the field of implemented functions, compatibility with target platforms, resistance to loads, and so on and so forth.
The main feature of the modern QA process is that none of the testing methods existing today gives a 100% guarantee of the quality of the software even after all the tests have been completed. Although, in general, no one has doubts that QA really allows you to make software better.
Quality Assurance vs Quality Control
Most people, however, do not know the difference between the terms Quality Assurance (QA), Quality Control (QC) and just Testing, considering them synonymous. So let’s dot all the "i"s.
What is QC (Quality Control)? It is a part of QA complex or in other words, the actions carried out on the product in the development process, to obtain information about its current status: whether the product is ready or not and whether it meets the quality requirements for each specific period of time.
What is the purpose of the Quality Control process?
To be brief, the purpose of QC events is to provide relevant and timely quality info based on various methods of its calculation, depending on the stage of product development and the number and priority of defects found.
What is Quality Assurance? It is the broadest of all concepts and is a combination of activities covering absolutely all stages of software development, release, and operation. These are activities at all stages of the software life cycle, which are undertaken to ensure the required level of quality of the manufactured product. If a little easier, then this is the brain center for decision-making in teams to ensure the quality of products.
What does the Quality Assurance process consist of?
- Checks for specifications and software requirements.
- Risk assessment.
- Task scheduling to improve product quality.
- Preparation of test documentation (regulations, approach, test plan, the checklist), test environments and data. Compared to QC and testing, at this stage an effective model and sequence of various product tests are developed, tools and scenarios are described that will provide the necessary level of functionality coverage.
- Testing and verification of requirements and specifications.
- Product testing process.
- Analysis of test results, reporting, and other acceptance documents.
What is Testing? It is one of the quality control techniques that includes activities for planning test activities, designing tests, performing these tests, and analyzing the obtained data.
What does a general Testing scheme look like?
The general testing scheme looks something like this:
- The tester receives the product and/or input requirements.
- He creates tests and monitors the behavior of the program in certain conditions.
- The tester receives data on compliance and non-compliance of product behavior with specifications. After which he documents this in the form of a description of defects, filling out test documentation.
- The information obtained is used to improve the product or change the requirements by making improvements to the code.
In the process of testing, the specialist controls the execution of the program and creates the conditions for observing the behavior of the product, comparing reality with the expected situation.
In simpler terms, quality assurance includes quality control of all organization processes, even those that are not directly related to the product. In other words, how efficiently the sales department of the enterprise works is also within the competence of QA. Quality assurance is a learning process, the study of what works wrong and how to fix it; studying what works correctly and under what circumstances, as well as how to do your job better with each new project.
QA/QC website testing: types of testing
There are several types of testing. Let's consider the most major types in more detail.
Functional Testing. In most cases, the very first thing quality assurance engineer will face up with is functional testing: writing tests for tasks and passing these tests, Passing already written ones, updating, fixing bugs, and so on and so forth. In this case, the QA engineer is a tester. For this, the most important thing is a well-functioning head, the ability to read tasks and ask the right questions: "What if?, Suppose that...what will be?". Depending on the technology, the tester may need additional specific skills. Web development, mobile application development, software: each technology has its own hidden dangers. But, the quality assurance process does not end with functional testing, so the concept of QA is much broader than testing. Here we are moving away from trivial tests of functional requirements and moving on to analyzing requirements and documentation (searching for bottle necks in requirements and implementation), usability testing (searching for “flubs” in interfaces and functionality), performance testing, and more.
Manual Testing. In this case, quality control is carried out by a person – a tester (or QA engineer) – by modeling user actions. Special programs for checking the site are not used. When you need to spend more resources on the development of autotests than on the product itself – it is easier, cheaper or even faster to check new functionality manually. Many people think that manual testing is something simple and anyone can handle it. In fact, manual testing requires a lot of skills. Manual testers solve those problems that others cannot cope with. The manual QA tester evaluates the product as a regular user and can provide the most detailed and understandable report on the functionality.
A specialist looks not only at functionality but also at design, so he can appreciate the site’s usability. The program, unfortunately, cannot do this. Implementation of atypical scenarios is possible – a person may find a bug that the program will not find. Manual verification of atypical scenarios is cheaper than their automation. The tester can check for minor changes immediately after their implementation. However, there is a human factor – no matter how professional a tester is, he/she can make a mistake. There is no way to simulate a high load, and therefore it is impossible to objectively evaluate how the site will behave with a large number of users. And the last but not the least, manual testing takes longer than automated testing.
Automated Testing. In this case, the launch, initialization, execution, analysis, and output of the result are performed automatically using special tools. The QA tester processes the results. Here, everything varies from company to company, and the role of an auto tester can begin with a "tester who learned how to use a test framework" and end with a "full-fledged developer who automates what testers tell him." Requirements differ accordingly. In addition to testing, a good quality assurance engineer works on the development process itself whose purpose is to ensure the quality of the product, and if it suffers from flubs in the workflow, they also need to be identified and resolved. The human factor is excluded – the program cannot make mistakes through inattention and negligence. High speed of verification: the functionality for which a specialist will spend a lot of time testing can be processed by the program in seconds. A report on the test results is generated and saved automatically. While self-testing is in progress, a specialist can do other tasks. Tests can also be performed after hours according to pre-written scripts.
However, automatic tests are always carried out strictly according to the plan, while with the manual method the tester pays attention to details and may find unexpected errors. With an illiterate approach, there is a risk that the development of autotests can turn into the process of creating an application to test applications and seriously drag out. Automation requires a specialist with higher competencies than manual testing. Automation is indispensable in regression testing when a functional check is repeated after changes are made (error correction). If your goal is to get a high-quality product at the output, regression testing should be carried out even with the smallest changes in the code. Despite the fact that the effort required to make small changes is usually minimal, re-checking the functionality includes a relatively large amount of work. Automation helps out – it allows you to reduce the time for regression testing to a minimum.
There are several different levels of website testing. It should be noted that in most cases, to reduce the cost of the testing process, a number of tests are neglected, although they are done mainly by relatively small software companies. However, due to the high level of automation of the QA process, it is already quite cheap. Currently, there are a large number of QA automation tools that automate most of the stages of testing. For instance, Comparium, an online solution developed to run web page testing across popular operating systems, namely, Linux, macOS, Windows and browsers, such as Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, Mozilla Firefox. The app helps QA tester to make sure that all content of the site is accessible to the users no matter the OS or browser they use. Comparium provides the tester with screenshots portraying visual bugs (if any) in certain OS and browser configurations and sends detailed results to the email.
How to become a tester and where to start a career as a QA engineer
Any organization involved in the quality assurance process is constantly trained. The very first step is to make quality assurance an integral part of product development. So, how to become a quality assurance engineer? it’s worth starting with the immersion in the theory of quality assurance jobs. First of all, you need to learn how to use IT terms and QA/QC in particular. To do this, you need to understand what quality assurance definition means as well as with the basic concepts of software testing. It is recommended to go to specialized IT courses, as reading all the “technical Talmuds” is a slow source of information. It is much easier and faster to do this, gaining knowledge from a qualified quality assurance specialist who has read dozens of books and hundreds of articles instead of you.
In any case, a QA beginner is first of all checked for knowledge of the software testing process: what it is for, what kind of testing it is, what a bug is, how to document it and what steps you need to go through to fix it. At the beginning, you will be dealing with tests. And after you get comfortable with this work and learn a little closer how software development is built in your company, you will go to a higher level and get your share of responsibility for the product being developed.