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What are Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Testing [Pros and Cons Included]

alpha testing

Have you ever wondered what the terms alpha and beta meant in software testing? And what about the gamma? Well, alpha (α) and beta (β) are the first two letters of the Greek alphabets, and may be that’s the reason why they are termed as the first and second phase of software testing. These terms originate back from the time the first commercial data processing machines were used. The hardware first went through an initial alpha test for testing the preliminary functionality of the product. Then came into existence the beta test which included people other than the developers to verify the end-user functionality.

app testing

Let us understand each aspect of all of the 3 software testing phases:

 Alpha Testing

Alpha testing is a type of internal testing performed for Commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) by a highly skilled group of testers and engineers at the developing site to find bugs that were initially not found. This dedicated team observes the products behavior and notes down the differences.  It usually involves testing the product by imitating the real user environment by carrying out tasks that an actual user might perform. Once the software passes the alpha test, it is considered fit to be used for the next phase, i.e. beta testing.

The term ‘alpha’ can be differentiated based on the projects it is used for. In case of a web application, alpha testing can be interpreted as an online application that has access via personal invitation, to gather initial feedbacks from the users for improvement and bugs.

Pros of Alpha Testing

  1. Primarily used as usability testing which is done by internal developers who develop the app or by the testers
  2. Critical issues or fixes can be addressed by developers immediately in Alpha testing
  3. This is one of the fast ways of getting the approval from the customer before proceeding to the process of delivery
  4. Any major or minor changes, which might have been missed in the requirement gathering phase, can be fixed at this stage itself

Cons of Alpha Testing

  1. Data presented by the customer usually doesn’t represent the actual data. Data created by testers/team might need a pre-approval from the customer
  2. Since alpha testing is just the usability testing, reliability and security is not performed
  3. The key users of the system deployed by the customer might not be the actual system users in reality and may be unaware about the working of it

Beta Testing

The Beta testing basically deals with imitating the end users input to ensure release readiness. It’s considered as the last stage of testing and includes distributing the products to beta test sites and individual users. Some other tests may also include testing a free trial of the product downloaded from the internet. The product is then tested by users in real time to find bugs that are left to be fixed. It is also used to determine the quality of the product.

Beta testing also includes many sub tests if required, for some software’s, particularly for PC games. These tests are known as Open beta tests and closed beta test. The closed beta test is followed immediately after the alpha test ends and is limited to only a few selected beta testers. The latter that includes testing by the general public is then known as the open test.

Pros of beta testing

  1. This testing helps in identifying the gaps between the actual implementation and the requirement gathering. This may add/remove few requirements
  2. Any requirement which may not have been captured initially in the contract is worked upon thereby reducing the product failure risk via customer validation
  3. The Beta test ensures the application runs in a real business environment with live data
  4. The after-sales service requirements may be identified in beta testing. Any support required for the future implementation can be understood and arranged accordingly

Cons of Beta testing

  1. Finding the correct beta tester or a group of testers can sometimes be difficult
  2. Since the testing is carried out in real time environment, you cannot have any control over the testing mechanism

Gamma Testing

Many of us have been turning around the term ‘Gamma’ thinking about its importance. It is the third and final testing phase just before the release of the app.

Since being the final phase of the testing, Gamma does not include any enhancements and changes to be made to the product, only the part of the code that is wicked or tending to affect the performance of the product can be changed. It validates the performance and functionality of the product making sure the product is completely ready for use by the end user.

Pros of Gamma testing

  1. You can be assured of the safety and functionality of your application just before its market release. It does not bring any chance of modification and changes unless the identified bug is of high importance.
  2. This testing is done directly without any in-house testing being repeated. Hence, saves a lot of time
  3. You can be well sure about the applications readiness, fulfilling all the requirements stated by the customer

Cons of Gamma testing

  1. There is very limited scope for the team to update or change the code, and if there is any, it might hamper the applications performance
  2. Due to heavy deadlines, increasing pressure and shorter development cycles, many organizations tend to skip the Gamma testing phase

Conclusion

Software testing is as important as any other process of the software development. It not only helps you gain confidence in your build, but also ensures a flawless experience for the market. So next time, don’t forget to do your homework about alpha, beta and gamma testing for improved quality.

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