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What is alpha testing in software testing?

Dian Us Suqlain

Software testing consists of various techniques and tools we can use to evaluate and analyze the quality of a software program and determine its results and outputs through several use cases.

Alpha testing is an example of a software testing technique that involves checking those bugs and errors that were not identifiable in the previous tests.

We apply alpha testing at the last stages of producing a software application, when all unit tests, functionality tests, and integration tests have already been completed. Alpha testing is performed when the application is in its acceptance testing stage, of which alpha testing is a key part.

Alpha testing is performed by the in-house testers who developed the software, the quality assurance (QA) team, and the product management team.

Software testing stages

Why is alpha testing necessary?

As defined earlier, the main aim of alpha testing is to identify and fix those bugs that were not found in the previous tests. Another aim is to get an understanding of how it feels to use the software in its entirety before releasing the software to the public for beta testing. Alpha testing refines the applications by removing such errors and identifying where improvements can be made.

Advantages of alpha testing

Alpha tests help with the following:

  • Ensures that the user gets a smooth flow using the system.
  • Refines the applications by identifying bugs and errors before actual deployment.
  • Real-time management of the product.
  • Ensures the quality of the software product.
  • Analyzes and validates the software product’s quality, functionality, performance, effectiveness, etc.

How to perform alpha testing

Depending upon the size of the software product, alpha testing steps may vary, but they have some characteristics in common:

  1. Properly review the design specifications.
  2. Understand the product’s functional requirements.
  3. Develop a detailed test plan and test case.
  4. Execute those plans and cases to identify bugs and errors.
  5. Run tests and resolve those bugs in production at the earliest opportunity.

We should conduct short test cycles for small-scale products, but for large-scale developments, the test cycles may vary. Each test cycle lasts for one to two weeks.

Phases in alpha testing

Alpha testing involves two phases for both large and small-scale products.

  1. First phase: The software developers perform the first phase of alpha testing. A tester uses debuggers to analyze bugs and defects during execution.

We need to identify the actual warnings, bugs, errors, and other defects that would create issues for the users later on.

  1. Second phase: In this phase, a Quality Assurance Engineer (QA) performs tests using behavioral techniques, i.e., black-box testing and white-box testing.

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