In software industry and according to Microsoft Inc, the term smoke testing defines the process of ascertaining or validating code changes before the changes are introduced into the product’s source tree.
Once you make the code reviews, smoke testing will become the most useful and cost effective testing method for finding out and fixing defects in the software. These tests can confirm changes in the codes as expected and ensure that the changes do not bring about a state of instability to the entire build.
Smoke testing involves running a series of tests before entering into the full scale testing of the application that is under development. The main objective behind smoke testing is to know whether the essential functions of the applications are working or not. In case they are found to be not working, additional modifications and changes are introduced before the application can proceed to other tests.
Such modifications may need to continue until a time when all essential functions go through the smoke test. Smoke test can be an invaluable tool that helps you conserve precious time, energy and money; if any of the software feature fails smoke test, then the developers need to think of additional modifications to the application.
Testers use smoke test from time to time especially during development phase. It will also help you hasten and improve the software developmental process and reduce the timeframe for development. You can also perform smoke testing at the first phase to ensure that the particular product does not turn a failure.
Smoke Testing Advantages
Software development industry also uses smoke test. It acts as a prerequisite test before conducting any other tests. Using smoke testing at the first stage of the software development will help you reveal the errors and possible failures on the software. A big failure or breakdown will help the developers decide whether they need to discard the project or not. It may also provide them invaluable clues on the types of modifications that can repair the anomaly.
But aside from software development, smoke testing can be used in many other fields including in the areas of electronics, plumbing, and even woodwind repair. For example, smoke tests conducted in plumbing will measure the actual passage of smoke that passes through the pipe. In case of any leakage, the plumber could easily see the smoke coming out of the pipe.
In an electronic industry, smoke testing helps the engineers to find out whether a circuit works or not. They will also be able to determine if the wiring is placed correctly or not. In case the engineers have made a mistake then smoke will appear from the circuit. In fact, the term smoke testing took its birth in the hardware industry.
Role of Smoke Test in Software Development
The term ‘smoke’ test is metaphorical when used in software testing. Software developers perform smoke test on new programs. Automated tests can help them build better software applications. Smoke tests can act as validating tests for the embedded codes when there are some modifications or changes to the application architecture. After validation, you can integrate the changes into the final code collection. You also need to run the test again to validate the entire code set and to find out, if there are other errors that need an immediate fix. Smoke testing is cheaper and is result oriented.
Build verification test is another name for smoke testing. Both of these tests are shallow and wide in their perspective. The tester who works on the program should look into all possible sectors of the program without having a deep understanding of how the software application works.
There is really no need for the tester to know how the entire process flows, he only needs to know if the particular software does what it is supposed to do. In case, when the software application fails, then you can safely assume that it is indeed a failure and you just cannot proceed further on testing.
Implementing Smoke Testing
Generally, quality assurance section develop and run the actual test on all new software applications. Test cases come to use while testing the functions of software. In fact, these tests are not simple and low-level tests, they consists of almost 30 different high-level cases that every software applications will pass.
In addition, there are strict and stipulated needs for the application to pass through the smoke test. Obviously, this test is the first test that a software application undergoes in its life cycle. If there is a failure, you can assume that there are problems in the developmental process. In reality, a team of software engineers works on the software project and each of them will need to use the test to pass the code sets.
The quality assurance department should ensure that their project should not undergo additional testing unless the previous failures undergo serious changes from the developmental team. You may also wish to run the test in an automatic mode. This mode can speed-up up the process of testing so that you can conserve precious time to market.
A given software system can fail at times. It could happen in a typical team based development environment. Peer pressure and constant evaluation can help prevent this possible failure. However, the team as a whole can work to solve many problems of software development. To create an error-free software application, you may need to fix all major functionality defects and errors in the initial stages of the project; smoke testing will come to your help to check certain phases of software applications.
Smoke testing does provide lot of benefits to the software development team. First, it can expel all those software applications that lack the potential to reach the market. In this way, software engineers can easily reject those software projects that are still in their early stages of development. If they find some errors in such projects, they can either modify it or reject the whole project. With smoke testing, you can conserve time and money as it passes the application for other future tests.
In addition, this test also allows software developers to learn different aspects of the program that needs further improvements. They will also be cautious in the future and avoid making similar mistakes again. Smoke testing at an earlier stage will help you avoid major modifications and changes to the core design of the applications.