Manual Testing Interview
And Answers Set - 4
What if an organization is
growing so fast that fixed QA processes are impossible?
This is a common problem in the software industry, especially in new technology
areas. There is no easy solution in this situation, other than:
? Hire good people
? Management should 'ruthlessly prioritize' quality issues and maintain focus
on the customer
? Everyone in the organization should be clear on what 'quality' means to the
How does a client/server
environment affect testing?
Client/server applications can be quite complex due to the multiple dependencies
among clients, data communications, hardware, and servers. Thus testing
requirements can be extensive. When time is limited (as it usually is) the focus
should be on integration and system testing. Additionally,
load/stress/performance testing may be useful in determining client/server
application limitations and capabilities. There are commercial tools to assist
with such testing. (See the 'Tools' section for web resources with listings that
include these kinds of test tools.)
How can World Wide Web sites be
Web sites are essentially client/server applications - with web servers and
'browser' clients. Consideration should be given to the interactions between
html pages, TCP/IP communications, Internet connections, firewalls, applications
applications that run on the server side (such as cgi scripts, database
interfaces, logging applications, dynamic page generators, asp, etc.).
Additionally, there are a wide variety of servers and browsers, various versions
of each, small but sometimes significant differences between them, variations in
connection speeds, rapidly changing technologies, and multiple standards and
protocols. The end result is that testing for web sites can become a major
ongoing effort. Other considerations might include:
? What are the expected loads on the server (e.g., number of hits per unit
time?), and what kind of performance is required under such loads (such as web
server response time, database query response times). What kinds of tools will
be needed for performance testing (such as web load testing tools, other tools
already in house that can be adapted, web robot downloading tools, etc.)?
? Who is the target audience? What kind of browsers will they be using? What
kind of connection speeds will they by using? Are they intra- organization (thus
with likely high connection speeds and similar browsers) or Internet-wide (thus
with a wide variety of connection speeds and browser types)?
? What kind of performance is expected on the client side (e.g., how fast
should pages appear, how fast should animations, applets, etc. load and run)?
? Will down time for server and content maintenance/upgrades be allowed? how
? What kinds of security (firewalls, encryptions, passwords, etc.) will be
required and what is it expected to do? How can it be tested?
? How reliable are the site's Internet connections required to be? And how
does that affect backup system or redundant connection requirements and testing?
? What processes will be required to manage updates to the web site's content,
and what are the requirements for maintaining, tracking, and controlling page
content, graphics, links, etc.?
? Which HTML specification will be adhered to? How strictly? What variations
will be allowed for targeted browsers?
? Will there be any standards or requirements for page appearance and/or
graphics throughout a site or parts of a site??
? How will internal and external links be validated and updated? how often?
? Can testing be done on the production system, or will a separate test system
be required? How are browser caching, variations in browser option settings,
dial-up connection variabilities, and real-world internet 'traffic congestion'
problems to be accounted for in testing?
? How extensive or customized are the server logging and reporting
requirements; are they considered an integral part of the system and do they
maintained, tracked, controlled, and tested?
Some sources of site security information include the Usenet newsgroup 'comp.security.announce'
and links concerning web site security in the 'Other Resources' section.
Some usability guidelines to consider - these are subjective and may or may not
apply to a given situation (Note: more information on usability testing issues
can be found in articles about web site usability in the 'Other Resources'
? Pages should be 3-5 screens max unless content is tightly focused on a
single topic. If larger, provide internal links within the page.
? The page layouts and design elements should be consistent throughout a site,
so that it's clear to the user that they're still within a site.
? Pages should be as browser-independent as possible, or pages should be
provided or generated based on the browser-type.
? All pages should have links external to the page; there should be no
? The page owner, revision date, and a link to a contact person or
organization should be included on each page.
Many new web site test tools have appeared in the recent years and more than 280
of them are listed in the 'Web Test Tools' section.
How is testing affected
by object-oriented designs?
Well-engineered object-oriented design can make it easier to trace
from code to internal design to functional design to requirements. While there
will be little affect on black box testing (where an understanding of the
internal design of the application is unnecessary), white-box testing can be
oriented to the application's objects. If the application was well-designed this
can simplify test design.
What is Extreme Programming and
what's it got to do with testing?
Extreme Programming (XP) is a software development approach for small teams on
risk-prone projects with unstable requirements. It was created by Kent Beck who
described the approach in his book 'Extreme Programming Explained' (See the
Softwareqatest.com Books page.). Testing ('extreme testing') is a core aspect of
Extreme Programming. Programmers are expected to write unit and functional test
code first - before the application is developed. Test code is under source
control along with the rest of the code. Customers are expected to be an
integral part of the project team and to help develope scenarios for
acceptance/black box testing. Acceptance tests are preferably automated, and are
modified and rerun for each of the frequent development iterations. QA and test
personnel are also required to be an integral part of the project team. Detailed
requirements documentation is not used, and frequent re-scheduling,
re-estimating, and re-prioritizing is expected. For more info see the XP-related
listings in the Softwareqatest.com 'Other Resources' section.
Why is it
often hard for management to get serious about quality assurance?
Solving problems is a high-visibility process; preventing problems is
low-visibility. This is illustrated by an old parable:
In ancient China there was a family of healers, one of whom was known throughout
the land and employed as a physician to a great lord. The physician was asked
which of his family was the most skillful healer. He replied,
"I tend to the sick and dying with drastic and dramatic treatments, and on
occasion someone is cured and my name gets out among the lords."
"My elder brother cures sickness when it just begins to take root, and his
skills are known among the local peasants and neighbors."
"My eldest brother is able to sense the spirit of sickness and eradicate it
before it takes form. His name is unknown outside our home."
software have bugs?
? miscommunication or no communication - as to specifics of what an
application should or shouldn't do (the application's requirements).
? software complexity - the complexity of current software applications can be
difficult to comprehend for anyone without experience in modern-day software
development. Windows-type interfaces, client-server and distributed
applications, data communications, enormous relational databases, and sheer size
of applications have all contributed to the exponential growth in
software/system complexity. And the use of object-oriented techniques can
complicate instead of simplify a project unless it is well-engineered.
? programming errors - programmers, like anyone else, can make mistakes.
? changing requirements (whether documented or undocumented) - the customer
may not understand the effects of changes, or may understand and request them
anyway - redesign, rescheduling of engineers, effects on other projects, work
already completed that may have to be redone or thrown out, hardware
requirements that may be affected, etc. If there are many minor changes or any
major changes, known and unknown dependencies among parts of the project are
likely to interact and cause problems, and the complexity of coordinating
changes may result in errors. Enthusiasm of engineering staff may be affected.
In some fast-changing business environments, continuously modified requirements
may be a fact of life. In this case, management must understand the resulting
risks, and QA and test engineers must adapt and plan for continuous extensive
testing to keep the inevitable bugs from running out of control - see 'What can
be done if requirements are changing continuously?' in Part 2 of the FAQ.
? time pressures - scheduling of software projects is difficult at best, often
requiring a lot of guesswork. When deadlines loom and the crunch comes, mistakes
will be made.
? egos - people prefer to say things like:
'piece of cake'
'I can whip that out in a few hours'
'it should be easy to update that old code'
'that adds a lot of complexity and we could end up
making a lot of mistakes'
'we have no idea if we can do that; we'll wing it'
'I can't estimate how long it will take, until I
take a close look at it'
'we can't figure out what that old spaghetti code
did in the first place'
If there are too many unrealistic 'no problem's', the result is bugs.
? poorly documented code - it's tough to maintain and modify code that is
badly written or poorly documented; the result is bugs. In many organizations
management provides no incentive for programmers to document their code or write
clear, understandable, maintainable code. In fact, it's usually the opposite:
they get points mostly for quickly turning out code, and there's job security if
nobody else can understand it ('if it was hard to write, it should be hard to
? software development tools - visual tools, class libraries, compilers,
scripting tools, etc. often introduce their own bugs or are poorly documented,
resulting in added bugs.
How can new
Software QA processes be introduced in an existing organization?
? A lot depends on the size of the organization and the risks involved. For
large organizations with high-risk (in terms of lives or property) projects,
serious management buy-in is required and a formalized QA process is necessary.
? Where the risk is lower, management and organizational buy-in and QA
implementation may be a slower, step-at-a-time process. QA processes should be
balanced with productivity so as to keep bureaucracy from getting out of hand.
? For small groups or projects, a more ad-hoc process may be appropriate,
depending on the type of customers and projects. A lot will depend on team leads
or managers, feedback to developers, and ensuring adequate communications among
customers, managers, developers, and testers.
? The most value for effort will be in (a) requirements management processes,
with a goal of clear, complete, testable requirement specifications embodied in
requirements or design documentation and (b) design inspections and code
Verification typically involves reviews and meetings to evaluate documents,
plans, code, requirements, and specifications. This can be done with checklists,
issues lists, walkthroughs, and inspection meetings. Validation typically
involves actual testing and takes place after verifications are completed. The
term 'IV & V' refers to Independent Verification and Validation.
What is a
A 'walkthrough' is an informal meeting for evaluation or informational purposes.
Little or no preparation is usually required.
An inspection is more formalized than a 'walkthrough', typically with 3-8 people
including a moderator, reader, and a recorder to take notes. The subject of the
inspection is typically a document such as a requirements spec or a test plan,
and the purpose is to find problems and see what's missing, not to fix anything.
Attendees should prepare for this type of meeting by reading thru the document;
most problems will be found during this preparation. The result of the
inspection meeting should be a written report. Thorough preparation for
inspections is difficult, painstaking work, but is one of the most cost
effective methods of ensuring quality. Employees who are most skilled at
inspections are like the 'eldest brother' in the parable in 'Why is it often
hard for management to get serious about quality assurance?'. Their skill may
have low visibility but they are extremely valuable to any software development
organization, since bug prevention is far more cost-effective than bug