Beta testing is the last important step that software developers conduct before they launch new software. Software systems at their beta stages are not fully developed. Hence, you should not expect it to be completely functional. However, it does give you a first look and a brief glimpse of what it can do for the users before its final launching in the market.
Testing a software before it is commercially released into the market is not only vital but also very critical. The released software should ensure there are no errors and bugs and the software application must work without any problems on any supported system. Beta testing enables the end-users to test the software to determine if it would satisfy their actual needs.
You should note that beta test is part of the normal developmental stage of the software system along with alpha testing to determine whether the software is acceptable or not. There are some essential differences between alpha and beta testing. It is very important to know them in detail so that you can avoid any confusion. In essence, both of them have similar goal that is to allow the end user to test the software. However, alpha testing will run in a simulated laboratory in preparation to the beta testing.
Software developers use alpha testing to check if there are any bugs or errors in the system. Beta test is almost similar to alpha testing; the main difference between the two is that limited numbers of end users who do not belong to the company that produces the software in question conducts beta testing. Users who conduct the beta testing will enable the company to find out whether the software under testing needs further improvements or not. In some cases, the software developers may provide the software for testing to anyone who wants to test it. Obviously, the software developer will be too happy to get as many numbers of feedbacks as possible from potential users.
Software developers refer both alpha and beta tests as immersion test because they do not use the most basic tenets of testing for these procedures. Instead, both of these tests are conducted in an external environment to see whether outside situation will have an impact on the efficiency of the software or not. Alpha and beta tests will also determine whether it would indeed be useful to their potential clients. In essence, beta testing is a critical procedure that allows the software developers to test their products under field conditions and by the people who actually use them.
How to Use Beta Tests
Beta tests are the most critical tests that help the software companies to make an objective test of their product’s ability to perform under variable conditions. If the developed software is reported to have several bugs or issues at hand, then the software developers will need to introduce further modifications to the software. Any bugs, errors or problems noticed during the beta tests will have something to do with the functionality and architecture of the software. Therefore, software developers will need to work quickly to collect feedbacks from different testers so that they can correct possible errors, eradicate any bugs and make the product viable, stable and robust before introduction for global market.
In spite of foolproof testing procedures, developers may still need to make necessary modifications to the software and conduct regression tests. Usually, software developers conduct regression tests at an earlier phase of software development. However, it is still necessary to employ this procedure, because modifying any software may cause regression in any of the previous functionalities. It is possible to conduct a regression test at any time during the developmental phase; in almost all cases, an automated process will allow the tester to conduct the test with least hassles.
In practice, release notes come together with the beta version of the software. It will give you many bits of necessary information about the software. Some of the most common information that comes along with the beta version is the accurate version number of the beta version, the list of changes that were carried out compared to the previous version, and the description of determined problems, and other related information. The release note will also contain the necessary technical and system requirements that are required to conduct the beta test.
However, you will still need to know about some necessary steps before conducting the beta version tests. Initially, you will need to download and install the software on your system and spend some time to know and understand about the basic features so that you can give accurate feedback. The next essential step is to create a report of all bug and errors that you might encounter while operating the software product. In addition, you should also inform the software developers of any configuration problems in the software system. This will allow the software developers to address configuration concerns and make the product problem-free before releasing to the market.
However, you should remember that the beta version is not the final version of the product. Thus, no company can provide any guarantee on the security of the product tested. In some instances, there have been instances of beta version software disrupting the computer systems and eventual loss of data and information stored in such systems. However, beta testing is still the only recognized testing process designed to test the software before its release to the market. Beta testing provides many benefits to the software developers as it is more practical and future users will conduct such tests which lend an air of authenticity to the efficiency of the product.
Beta Testing – Advantages and Pitfalls
Beta testing is a unique testing process that helps software developers test a particular software product before its final release to the market. Beta testing offers several, unique advantages to both software developers and users. Here are some of the most significant benefits of using beta testing:
- For users, the most significant benefit is that they can be the first of the few to get access to many latest and modern software products before they arrive at the market.
- User’s opinions and test reports are invaluable because software developers can use them to improve the quality of software products tested.
- In addition, you can expect to get free technical support for any issues that concern your system, when you are using the beta software on your computer.
- Communicating with other beta users is also possible, so that you can get more in-depth information about the different software products that are out in the market today.
- Some software developers offer free versions of software tested to recognize your efforts of time, money and energy
- However, you should know and study advantages offered by the software developers before conducting the beta tests.
The main purpose of conducting beta testing is to find out if the software designed can function in a proper manner. Thus, you should report any problems that encounter while testing the product through beta testing. There are many simple steps that you should know so that you can provide the best possible suggestions to the software developer.
Reporting on beta tests is very important. To report any problems, you should create a comprehensive description of all the problems you faced while running the tests. It means that you should know how to describe the errors and bugs that occurred by themselves on your computer system. Accurate and specific reporting is mandatory because the software product designed and created is very complex and software developers will spend a lot of time and money to create their products.
Hence, they should know the exact sector where the problem lies. You may also need to describe the events that caused the problem and the details of the hardware used to test the software. Beta testers can send their reports to the software developers either through emails or through the server. You can even discuss about any problems in the forum created and hosted by the software developer.
Why is Beta Test Important?
Beta testing is one of the most important and mandatory tests that one will need to undertake to ensure that the software is safe and completely free from errors. Beta testing offers many benefits to the software developers too.
- The most important one relates to the advanced details like understanding user needs, requirements and demands from the software.
- It is also possible to know the pulse of the software users like what features they like , why they use the product and how they use it.
- Software developers can provide their software products to end users to expose them to real life usage. This will help software developers to determine whether the product can withstand the different configurations of the end-user computers.
- Beta testing at the user end will also help software developers test the product under different conditions.
- Beta testing will also help the software developers to know and understand end user opinion and experience.
- Software developers will also understand whether the end user benefited from the features included in the software.
- Software developers may also get a chance to estimate the possible profit levels based on the feedback received by the end users.
All these benefits and advantages point out to the critical importance of beta testing in the designing of software systems. Some of the software products that you see today have seen several beta testing stages just to ascertain that the software is indeed safe and secure for everyday usage. In nutshell, software developers should conduct beta testing for their products. Beta testing is very easy to conduct and it will provide software developers an opportunity to further improve their products to enhance the overall effectiveness and user-friendliness. Beta testing is perhaps the most important aspect of a software development cycle.