There are so many software testing steps, techniques and philosophies that it can be difficult to understand all the nuances. One particular area of confusion for many testers getting ready for their ISEB/ISTQB Foundation exam is the concept of alpha and beta testing. Generally speaking, alpha and beta testing occur after the formal test plan has been successfully completed. These activities represent additional steps in the overall testing process.
Alpha testing is executed after completion of the formal test plan, but before the software is deployed in the market, and this can encompass white box as well as black box testing. The purpose of alpha testing is to measure real users’ abilities to use and navigate the software application, and this is typically performed by internal employees and done in a lab environment so that user actions can be measured and analyzed.
Beta testing comes after alpha testing and primarily utilizes black box tactics. Beta testing is where real users outside the organization are solicited to play around with the software. This is normally the final “check and balance” system before the software is released en masse, although sometimes the beta version of a software application is released to the general public during this phase. This process helps identify and mitigate defects that were missed during the formal test plan, and helps configure the customer support resources and processes that will be needed post-launch.
Both alpha and beta testing are critical components of the overall software testing process. Beta testing has the additional benefit of potentially generating pre-launch hype for the product. Many early-adopters jump at the opportunity to participate in a beta test because they want to be on the cutting edge of technology. If these people like the product, they will start to talk about it which can help create a nice buzz prior to the general release.
Filed Under: Software Testing