Feature Testing – What is it, and why is it important?

Marlena Walburg

The quality assurance process is an integral part of developing and delivering good software. It is certainly not a trivial matter, and also, the success of your digital product relies heavily on it. There are many types of tests performed by QA specialists. Today we will focus on Feature Testing.

Have you ever heard of it? If not, then be sure to read on. We explain what Feature Testing is, what advantages it has, and why it is relevant from the business point of view.

What are the four types of testing?

First, a little information about the types of tests performed in the Quality Assurance process: there is a general distinction between the four levels of testing. Based on the ISTQB Certified Test Foundation Level syllabus, these are: 

  • Unit Testing – Checks if the functionality of a specific section of code, usually at the function level, is working as expected.
  • Integration testing: Checks the interfaces between components against the software design and aims to reveal defects.
  • System Testing: Tests a fully integrated system to verify that the system meets its requirements.
  • Acceptance Testing: Conducted to determine if a specification or contract is met. Such tests are carried out concerning the user’s needs, requirements and business processes to determine whether the system meets the acceptance criteria and allows authorised entities to accept the system.

Tests are often grouped into one of these levels by where they were added in the software development process or by the level of detail of the test.

What is feature testing?

Let’s start with the very concept of features. Features are changes that add new functionality or significantly modify existing functionality. They should be designed to be helpful, practical and intuitive. Applications consist of many such elements that must interact with each other to work well. In addition, users may use specific functions in unexpected ways, causing incredible system responses. For these reasons, you must test the new features before you commit to software. It is where Feature Testing comes in. When making changes to a software system to add new features or modifications to existing features, you must verify that the software is functioning correctly and meets all intended specifications.

How do you test new features?

There are different approaches to testing new features. These can be alpha, beta, A / B tests. You literally have to play with the new feature and try out various expected and unexpected scenarios. You need to observe the effect to see if it is as expected or if it has any side effects.

How to perform Feature Testing?

  • The team should start testing a function with a primary activity – getting to know and understand the function itself, its real purpose. To a large extent, it is based on cooperation between QA specialists and developers. Developers see how the implemented function works; they know the requirements and are aware of potential problems on which the quality control must focus. Testers should discuss the topic with the developer before testing.
  • To thoroughly test the software features, testers should develop all possible test cases before proceeding to the actual process to test each feature exclusively. The creation of such materials will enable adequate coverage of functions and help in better detection of defects and errors in the software functions.
  • Before testing, the QA team should collect all the data needed for testing and positive and negative test cases to verify borderline cases.
  • It is crucial to formulate test scenarios. Final testing should include new features and regression testing of the entire application.
  • Having all the data, test scenarios and knowledge of the system and its dependencies, the QA team should try out all the optimistic, negative, expected and unexpected scenarios that the user may execute. Testers should know how the feature is implemented in the software to find bugs easier and fix them quickly.
  • For the best results in terms of functionality and specifications, feature testing is best implemented in the early stages of development.

Feature Tests vs Integration Tests vs Unit Tests

Above, we have briefly mentioned what both unit and integration tests are. Unit tests are typically written by programmers who work on the code to ensure that a specific feature works as expected. These reference tests verify the functionality of a particular section of code, usually at the function level. It is generally at the class level in an object-oriented environment, with minimal unit tests involving constructors and destructors. Unit testing is designed to eliminate design errors before code is transferred to further testing. This is standard software quality assurance. 

Integration testing is any software testing that verifies the interfaces between components against the software design. Software components can be integrated iteratively or altogether. Thanks to such tests, defects can be detected in the interfaces and interactions between integrated components. 

Let’s quickly summarise:

  • Unit tests check that a single piece of code works well. They are executed by the developer every time a new class is written, any bug is fixed, or functionality is changed.
  • Integration testing verifies that when one or more units are integrated, they are working correctly. They are performed when any new unit is integrated into the system or when an already existing unit case is updated. They are carried out by testers / QA specialists.
  • Feature testing is testing functions as a real user would do. These tests are also performed by testers / QA specialists. Feature testing is an end-to-end test and is performed when a new feature is added to the software or an existing feature is modified.

Advantages Of Feature Testing

The quality assurance process is an indispensable element of software development. The function tests themselves have several advantages, see:

  • Detecting bugs before they hurt – Feature testing is one of the best ways to test your application and avoid losing money and discouraging users. By performing function tests, developers can continuously improve the quality of the final product and provide products with a satisfactory user and business functionality.
  • It affects the high quality of the software – testing software at every stage of development, and its various elements allows us to deliver a really high-quality product.
  • A better understanding of the functions and the entire product-testing functions requires in-depth familiarisation with the documentation, the current state of the application, and its structure. After all, the new feature should be a consistent part of the application. Due to this, getting to know the product characteristics, everyone is on the same page, both the development team and stakeholders.
  • It allows you to check various software configurations and test any of its elements.

Why is feature testing important?

As you may have noticed, Feature Testing is a very beneficial move. It has a significant impact on the quality of the product that users will receive. To ensure that before the new functionality is released, it will be thoroughly checked in various use cases. Therefore, Feature Testing is a practical way to avoid releasing a defective product and failure, which is crucial for every business.

What is the future of testing?

A moment to think about the future of testing at the end: as in other new technology sectors, ever faster, better, and more solid results are expected. Fortunately, new solutions that meet these needs appear now and then. Machine Learning is assumed to enter the area of testing to help streamline and accelerate QA processes. If we can teach the machine the needs and requirements of its users, testing will be more effective than ever. ML can also improve test automation. Artificial Intelligence and the application of intelligent analytics to the most critical decisions in the testing process and its optimization will also be more and more powerful.

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