What is Alpha Testing? [Features, Pros, and Cons]

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What is Alpha Testing? [Features, Pros, and Cons]

Sameeksha Medewar
Last updated on June 23, 2022

    Today, every software development organization strives to provide high-quality software products and services to its customers. They perform testing on the software products to ensure that they are defect-free and conform to the specified requirements and quality standards. However, they carry out software testing at different levels so that they test each and every aspect of the software products.

    There are four different levels of software testing that are as follows:

    • Unit Testing: This type of testing tests each component of the software product individually for its correctness.
    • Integration Testing: Integration testing logically combines tested components and tests the interaction between the combined components.
    • System Testing: This type of testing checks the entire system as a whole to ensure that it functions properly.
    • User-acceptance Testing: In user-acceptance testing, the real users or clients of the software product test it to determine whether it functions as intended.

    Among the various types of user-acceptance testing, alpha testing is the one that is carried out before the final release of the software product to identify any potential bugs and errors.

    Through this blog post, we will help you become familiar with alpha testing, along with its advantages and disadvantages. So, let us start our discussion!

    What is Alpha Testing?

    It is a type of user-acceptance testing where the testers check the software product to identify bugs or errors before its final release. They carry out testing when the software product is almost in a usable form but is not made available to its intended users.

    The primary purpose of this type of software testing is to determine bugs or errors that testers missed in the previous levels of software testing. It also involves fixing those bugs or errors before releasing the software product to the real users.

    Moreover, in-house software engineers or the Quality Assurance (QA) team are responsible for carrying out this type of user-acceptance testing.

    There’s another popular type of user-acceptance testing known as beta testing. Prior to beta testing, software engineers or the QA team performs alpha testing. It is the final type of software testing performed on the software product before releasing it.

    Objective

    The following are the primary objectives of alpha testing:

    • Understanding the software product from the end user's perspective.
    • Refining the software product by finding and fixing the bugs or errors that the testers left uncovered in the previous levels of software testing.
    • Gaining better insights into the software product before making it live in the market.
    • Uncovering defects that may occur due to the misbehavior of the software product.

    Features

    The following are the salient features of alpha testing:

    • It is a type of user-acceptance testing that takes place after unit testing, integration testing, and system testing.
    • In-house developers or software engineers carry out this type of testing at the end of the software development process, i.e., before releasing the software product.
    • This type of testing does not involve end-users.
    • The QA team or in-house software engineers leverage white-box testing as well as black-box testing techniques to perform alpha testing.
    • It ensures that the software product has the maximum possible quality before releasing it to the market.

    Phases of Alpha Testing

    There are two phases in this type of testing that are as follows:

    • First Phase

    The first phase of alpha testing involves in-house developers or software engineers. Here, they leverage hardware-aided debugger or debugging software to test the software product and find bugs, errors, crashes, and missing features.

    • Second Phase

    The second phase involves the quality assurance (QA) staff that carries out additional testing on the software product. Also, they leverage the black-box and white-box testing techniques to test the software product.

    Alpa Testing Process

    The following are the steps involved in alpha testing:

    • Requirements Review : This step involves reviewing the functional requirements of the software product.
    • Test Development: It involves developing an effective test plan and test cases.
    • Test Case Execution : Executing the test cases according to the test plan.
    • Loggin Defects: Logging the bugs or defects found in the software product.
    • Bugs Fixation: After identifying and logging bugs, there comes fixing those bugs and making the software product ready to go live.
    • Retesting: After all the bugs are fixed, the software product is tested again to ensure that there are no bugs.

    How Does Alpha Testing Work?

    This type of software testing requires a separate system in the test lab environment. Initially, the project manager assigns a team of developers with the task of defining specific goals for testing.

    Later, the manager integrates those goals with the evolving project plans. The QA team then creates a detailed test plan and test cases. They execute the test cases and identify potential problems. Though this type of testing is not entirely functional, the QA team tests everything available to it.

    Furthermore, after executing the test cases, the team of developers works on fixing the defects or errors found. Once fixed, the system again undergoes testing to ensure it is free from defects.

    When to Perform?

    Usually, the software engineers and the quality assurance (QA) team perform alpha testing on the software product at the end of the software development process, but before the final release. They perform it before beta testing, which is also an integral part of user-acceptance testing.

    While performing this type of testing, we can add any missing functionalities to the software product or make changes to the existing functionalities. It is performed at the developer’s side and does not involve end-users at all.

    Entry and Exit Criteria

    The entry criteria define the conditions that the software product should satisfy before carrying out testing. On the other hand, the exit criteria define the conditions that the software should meet after the testing process is completed.

    The following are the entry and exit criteria of alpha testing:

    Entry Criteria

    • Software and business requirement documents.
    • Test cases for the entire software product.
    • The test environment is set up for executing the test cases.
    • Tool set up for defect logging test results update.
    • Requirement traceability matrix (RTM) to make sure that each requirement is covered.

    Exit Criteria

    • The test execution results of all the test cases.
    • Delivery of test status report.
    • Cover all the major and critical functionalities of the software product.
    • All the logged defects get fixed.
    • The development team has performed retesting.
    • Sign off from alpha testing.

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Alpha Testing

    Let us now discuss the advantages and disadvantages.

    Advantages

    • It discovers critical defects or errors that may arise when the product goes live.
    • It provides better insights into the reliability of the software product.
    • Since this type of testing uncovers most of the defects, customers feel satisfied with the software product after its release.
    • It significantly improves the quality of the software product.

    Disadvantages

    • This type of testing only covers business requirements.
    • If there are any defects left in the functional testing, this type of testing does not uncover them since its primary aim is to test the software product for its usability.
    • There may be cases where in-house developers and the QA team may ignore minor defects due to strict deadlines.
    • It is not ideal for small projects.

    Conclusion

    Alpha testing plays a crucial role in ensuring the delivery of defect-free software products. It takes place at the end of the software development process and before the final release of the software product.

    Moreover, it has the ability to uncover potential and critical defects that the testers left uncovered in the previous levels of testing. It provides the development team with the confidence that they are delivering quality and defect-free software products.

    We hope this article has helped you gain better insights into alpha testing. Still, if you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments section.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. What is Beta Testing?

    Beta testing is also a type of user-acceptance testing, where a small group of end-users tests the software product to verify its performance, usability, correctness, and completeness.

    2. What is the difference between alpha and beta testing?

    The team of in-house software engineers or developers or quality assurance professionals carry out alpha testing, while a small group of the software product’s real users performs beta testing.

    3. What comes first Alpha or Beta testing?

    Alpha testing comes before beta testing. The former is performed by the people inside an organization, whereas the latter is performed by real users.

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