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What is Smoke Testing, Pros & Cons, Differences with Sanity Testing

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Smoke testing is an initial step to examine whether a software code demonstrates stability to go further into the testing life cycle or if the testing should be abandoned to go back to fixing developmental flaws.

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Tagged as an initial test, this procedure gets its name from the electronics industry highlighting the non-emergence of smoke from a component that is connected to a switch. A smoke-free phenomenon is an indication of a passed test. Taking a cue from hardware testing, smoke testing when used in relation to software programs is ordained to check the critical functionalities of a software program. Providing a holistic view of the hygiene of the entire software project, smoke testing entails upon a process teamed with a systematic approach, the details of which are explained as under.

 The Process

A set of preliminary tasks has to be performed before initiating smoke testing. It is important to create some test cases that should be executed before embarking on the actual step to check whether the critical functionalities of the code are in tandem with the laid specifications. These test cases are scripted in such a way that an overall stability of the code’s functionality is ascertained without delving deep into the finer details. Identified as a cost-effective mechanism that can unveil and fix defects in software codes, smoke testing goes a long way in integrating error-free codes so as to essentially build a solid software code.

Guidelines to Proceed with Smoke Testing

  1. Always in Close Interaction with the Developer

In order to effectively conduct smoke testing, the interdependence between a developer and a tester takes center stage. Testers have to work in sync with the developer who will throw light on the reasons behind a code change. A developer will be the right person to provide all the information about the features of the technology being used. He will also be able to throw light on the implications a code change will have on the functionality of the entire system.

  1. The Importance of A Code Review

Coming as a pre-requisite to a smoke test, the importance of a code review cannot be undermined. Reviewing the code is a well-informed attempt to ensure that the code is free from defects and errors of commission. Basically, to unearth weak areas of a code, results of this code analysis will sound the clarion to either halt the testing process or to go ahead with rigorous tests.

  1. Private Binaries To be Installed on A Bug-Free Build

It is a common mistake to test mismatched binaries. A solution to this would be to include all the updated binaries under a test build. Debug binaries should be installed for all the files that are to be tested, for the testing procedure to be conducted on a bug-free and clean build. This way, one can arrive at valid smoke test results.

  1. The Creation of Daily Builds

The primary motive of different teams working on a huge software project is to always stay in sync with each other. And it is through a dedicated practice of creating daily builds that will ease this problem of any one of the teams going off at a tangent. Encouraging team members to be on the same page at all times, this process of daily smoke testing builds will ultimately pave way for superior quality and stable software codes.

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Primarily driven by an intent to incorporate error-free changes to the code that will not jeopardize the stability of the entire software project, the above mentioned steps will help developers deliver solid codes to their clients.

Pros and Cons of Smoke Testing

Smoke testing is practiced by developers to unearth major issues before the code is passed on to the testing department. Testers also engage in smoke testing as part of a preliminary move that precedes their detailed testing routine.

Let’s check out the advantages and disadvantages of the same.

Advantages

  1. Early Detection of Software Inaccuracies – A Multi-Savior

Especially meant to blow the lid off major flaws in a software code, smoke testing offers a bird’s eye view of the stability of the code, without going into the finer details. Touching upon all the important features of the product, the outcome of this test becomes a guiding light to either opt for other tests or to stop the testing process so as to fix the major flaws in the application. Taking it back to the developer, this type of testing can make its presence felt with new or updated software applications.

Time and effort of the developers are the major determinants of the stability of a product. And it is through this testing that both these components can be saved when a major software inaccuracy is encountered and notified, teamed with a substantial cost saving. A stitch in time saves nine. In line with this maxim, an early detection of errors will prove to be a purse-friendly option compared to the one that was discovered at one of the final stages of the software development life cycle.

  1. Detection of Integration Issues Early On

Software codes are produced by different teams working independently with a great deal of interdependence between them. Ordained to deliver their responsibilities in line with the instructions of a team lead, there can be issues concerning integrating pieces of software code to become an integral part of a huge software project.

An integration error in one software program can play havoc with the entire project. Thus it pays for team leads to keep a watchful eye on a probable incompatibility between the different software codes. Smoke testing comes into the picture by highlighting such integration issues while paving way for smaller and easy-to-manage integration issues.

  1. A Perfect Retort to “Poor Quality”

A regular smoke test of the entire software code will help keep the damages of “low quality” at bay. Instead of resorting to knee-jerk practices of testing, it is an intelligent move to validate the code on a daily basis. This will help maintain the quality of the code thereby saving a lot of time that would be consumed to resolve huge quality issues.

Disadvantage:

The prime disadvantage of smoke testing is linked to its basic premise. Identified as a testing procedure that is not meant to dig deep into flaws, this is a simple yet necessary practice to uncover major flaws of a software code.

Understanding the Differences between Smoke Testing and Sanity Testing

Identified as two confusing terms attached to the domain of software testing, smoke testing and sanity tests demand a detailed explanation. All for the sake of acquiring an in-depth knowledge of these two practices, let us now get into the technical definition of these terms. Next in line will be a list of differences between these two topics for a comprehensive understanding of the fundamentals and their scope of influence in the domain of software testing.

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 Smoke Testing

Also called as “Build Verification Testing”, smoke testing is a practice to uncover major functional inaccuracies pertaining to a software program. Essentially conducted to check the overall efficiency of a code, this testing is subjected on the built software before actually passing it through a series of rigorous tests.

The primary aim of smoke testing is to weed out evidently inconsistent applications that can play havoc to the final execution of a software project. This mechanism employed by developers is in line with attempting to save the time of the QA team to install and test a faulty software application. It is through a regular verification of test cases that developers and testers can assess the critical functions of the system, ensuring that quality is not compromised at any stage of the software development life cycle.

 Sanity Testing

Moving on to the description of sanity testing, this is a test method that is performed on a software build which has already been subjected to minor code changes. Typically meant to reinstate the fact that bugs have been identified and fixed in the updated version, a passed code through sanity testing speaks volumes of the program staying in sync tune with the expected functionality. On the flip-side, a failed test calls for the rejection of the software build. Done at the right time, this move will substantially save the time, cost and effort in setting up a series of rigorous tests. 

Bringing Out the Sharp Contrast between Smoke Testing and Sanity Testing

  1. The Basic Premise

The primary objective of smoke testing is to authenticate the stability of the code. A successful smoke test will hence wave a green flag to proceed with other rigorous tests.

Sanity testing majorly focuses on providing reasons to proceed with stringent tests, basically attaching a strong rationale of the tested system.

  1. Scope of the test:

A smoke test is primarily meant to uncover major flaws that will hamper the successful execution of a software code as part of the entire software project.

Sanity testing on the other hand is conducted to validate a new functionality to check whether the intended and specified requirements are met or not. It is also a technique that highlights a bug-free code.

  1. Developers or Testers – Who Perform These Tests?

Smoke testing is conducted either by a developer or a tester. Alternatively, it is only testers who are ordained to perform sanity testing.

  1. Documentation

Developers and testers employing smoke testing have supporting documents in favor of their inferences.

Speaking of sanity testing, this is an undocumented form of testing, without any written test cases or test scripts.

  1. The Purview

Smoke testing is a part of Regression Testing.

Sanity Testing is a portion of Acceptance Testing.

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  1. General V/s Specialized Testing

Looking into the entirety of the system from beginning to end, smoke testing is a comprehensive mechanism throwing light on the overall stability of the software code.

Concentrating on a specific function or component of the total system, sanity testing ensures the specialized well-being of the component in question.

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