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Alpha and Beta Testing in Software Testing

Alpha and Beta Testing in Software Testing

Alpha and Beta testing are two types of acceptance testing that take place at the end of the software development life cycle 🔁 Both types help to validate that the product is ready for deployment to production. Let’s dive in and understand what each type of testing represents, how to perform them, the benefits they bring, and the main differences between the two.

What Is Alpha Testing?

The ISTQB definition for alpha testing is simulated or actual operational testing by potential users, or an independent test team at the developers’ site, but outside the development organization. Alpha testing is often employed for commercial off-the-shelf software as a form of internal acceptance testing.

Alpha testing is a subset of acceptance testing, which is performed by internal team members. The tests might be performed on builds that are not yet 100% stable. It’s performed before the beta version is released. There are two phases for alpha testing:

  • The first phase is performed mainly by the development team. It includes white-box testing, and the objective is to identify major bugs that might prevent the application from performing the intended functionalities.
  • The second phase is done by the QA team, and the main goal is to identify bugs, using typical user scenarios. The tests are run in a testing environment, usually using limited sets of test data.

Because the testing takes place in a testing or staging environment, the fixes can usually be done quickly ⏰

Benefits of Alpha Testing

  • Provides a clearer picture of the software’s dependencies at an early stage.
  • Helps build confidence in the product before the release of a beta version for testing.
  • Simulates user behavior and environments.
  • Ability to spot bugs in design and functionality early on, before reaching a larger audience, i.e. when launched for beta testing.
  • Helps to understand the aspects that impact the effective launch of the application.
  • Because it uses both black-box and white-box testing methods, it provides thorough results.

Entry Criteria

There are some conditions that should be met before the alpha testing phase can start. These are:

  • All of the functionalities are ready for testing.
  • There are no known critical bugs in the application.
  • The QA build and test environment are ready.
  • The testers have good knowledge about the application under test.

Exit Criteria

The alpha test phase is considered done when:

  • All planned test cases have been executed.
  • Critical issues have been resolved.
  • No new features are to be added.
  • The alpha testing phase was signed-off.

What Is Beta Testing?

According to ISTQB, beta testing is a type of acceptance testing performed at an external site to the developer’s test environment by roles outside the development organization. Beta testing is one of the final stages of testing, and it takes place after the alpha testing has been completed ✅

It’s oriented toward collecting user feedback and confirming the product is market-ready. Beta tests are performed by a selected group of end-users, who perform their usual scenarios on a beta version of the application. User behavior is an aspect that is examined during beta testing.

The aim is to evaluate if the tested app is being used as the testers intended, or if particular features or logic need to be reconsidered. All of the collected input is forwarded to the developers, who make final adjustments and check that the product satisfies all of the requirements and expectations before releasing it to the general public.

Beta testing is an excellent way to fine-tune your product’s positioning, marketing, and communication. All of this information may then be utilized to guarantee that consumers receive the best possible application.

Benefits of Beta Testing

  • Provides direct feedback from the customers, and is less expensive than other data collection techniques.
  • Helps to discover bugs that were not detected during previous testing stages (including alpha).
  • Customer validation lowers the chance of product failure.
  • The company can use beta testing to test post-launch infrastructure.
  • Increases customer satisfaction.

Types of Beta Testing

  • Traditional beta testing: The app is distributed to the target audience, and all relevant feedback is collected. This information is then used to improve the product.
  • Public beta testing: The product is distributed to the general public via web channels, and anybody can provide feedback. Users may help promote the product by sharing information with other potential users while also supplying valuable data.
  • Technical beta: The product is sent to an internal set of beta testers, who are usually employees of the firm that develops it, and their feedback is gathered.
  • Focused beta: The product is made available to the general public in order to receive input on some of the application’s specific features. It might be any feature or functionality, with the most obvious candidates being those that are critical to the product’s success.
  • Post- release beta: The product is launched, and data is gathered in order to improve future versions.

Entry Criteria

Before beta testing begins, there are some criteria that should be met:

  • The alpha testing has been signed off.
  • The beta version of the application is ready.
  • The public documentation and a list of known issues are ready to be released.

Exit Criteria

For the beta phase to be considered successful, we should consider the following:

  • The reported bugs are fixed.
  • The feedback reports from the target group are ready.

Differences Between Alpha & Beta Testing

Alpha Testing Beta Testing
Takes place before beta testing Is the final testing stage
Is performed by the internal team Is performed by the end-users, which are real users of the product
Takes place at the developer’s site Takes place at the users’ location
Uses test data Uses real production data
Can include both white and black-box testing techniques Is usually limited to black-box testing
Assesses the quality of the application Assesses customer satisfaction with the product
Bugs are usually addressed quickly after they are found Bugs are usually addressed towards the end

Conclusions

Acceptance testing plays a very important role in the software development process and increases the chances that the end-users will be satisfied with the released product. If both alpha and beta testing are performed, or even just one of the two, then the chances are that the application will bring even more value to its users 💪

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About the author

Andreea Draniceanu

Andreea is a QA engineer, experienced in web and desktop applications, and always looking to improve her automation skills and knowledge. Her current focus is automation testing with C#.

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