Release Testing Tutorial: A Comprehensive Guide With Examples And Best Practices

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  • Release Testing Tutorial: A Comprehensive Guide With Examples And Best Practices

OVERVIEW

Release testing involves coding practices and testing strategies to ensure that software application releases are ready for end-users. It aims to identify and eliminate errors and bugs in software products before they are shipped.

A release is the distribution of the final version of a software product or application, and release testing ensures this final version is delivered flawlessly. With the increasing complexity of software products, release testing has become important to ensure that new features and updates are deployed confidently and have less impact on the end-user experience.

QA teams can serve as good advocates for release practices since they often sit at the intersection of code, users' needs, and management. Also, they can use their skills to improve release processes to benefit end-users.

What is Release Testing?

Release testing is the process of verifying that a particular release of a software product meets the specified requirements and is ā€œready for releaseā€ to the end users. It is performed to identify any bugs, defects, or issues that may have been missed during the development process and to ensure that the product is of high quality and meets customer expectations before it is made public. By performing release tests, one can make sure that the system delivers its designed functionality and performance and does not fail during execution.

This type of testing typically includes regression testing, acceptance testing, and other types of testing to validate the functionality, performance, and overall quality of the software product. It is typically a black box testing process where tests are derived from the system specifications. So, we can consider release tests a form of system testing with essential distinctions such as:

  • It is performed by a separate team that has yet to be involved in the system development.
  • System testing done by the development team should focus on discovering bugs in the system, i.e., defect testing. In contrast, the motive of release testing is to check that the system meets its requirements and isā€œready to be live in production.

Why perform Release Testing?

Letā€™s look at why it is vital to perform release testing and what key objectives it is trying to achieve.

  • The primary goal of a release test is to verify that the software functions as intended and meets the specified requirements.
  • Identify and resolve issues or bugs impacting the software's performance and functionality.
  • Ensure that the software is compatible with different operating systems, hardware configurations, and other software products and platforms.
  • Evaluate software's performance under various conditions, including peak usage and stress testing.
  • Verify that the software meets desired security and data privacy requirements.
  • Improve the reliability and stability of the software.
  • Minimize the risk of customer complaints and increase customer satisfaction.

History of Release Testing

The history of release tests can be traced back to the early days of software development when the software was developed and released in a more ad-hoc manner. With the evolution of software development methodologies, the focus on quality and customer satisfaction increased, leading to the formalization of release tests as a critical step in the software development process.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, as software became complex and widespread, release testing became an increasingly important part of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). This was also the time when Agile development methodologies started to gain popularity, emphasizing the importance of frequent releases and rapid feedback from end-users.

With DevOps and continuous delivery, the role of release tests has continued to evolve, becoming more integrated into the software development process and more automated and data-driven. Today, release tests are considered a critical component of software development that ensures that software products meet customer requirements and expectations and are delivered with high quality.

Benefits of Release Testing

One of the crucial aspects of a software project is releasing it into the global market. Even good-quality software can have problems due to a lousy release management process. A release test helps you improve the software quality and reduce risks associated with post-release.

Here are a few benefits of it.

  • Increased user satisfaction: A well-tested software product is likely to have fewer issues and is more likely to meet the needs and expectations of users, leading to increased customer satisfaction.
  • Improved quality: It helps to identify and resolve any issues or bugs in the software before it is released to the public, resulting in a higher quality.
  • Reduced risks: By finding and fixing issues in the testing phase, release tests minimize the risk of user complaints, lost business, and damage to the organization's reputation.
  • Cost savings: Fixing issues in the testing phase is typically less expensive than fixing them after the software has been released to the public.
  • Better performance: It helps to ensure that the software performs as expected under various conditions, leading to a better user experience.
  • Improved collaboration: Release tests often involve collaboration between different teams and departments, leading to improved communication and teamwork.
  • Better planning: It lets us identify the necessary resources, schedules, and tasks required for a successful software release, leading to better planning and project management.

When should you do Release Testing?

Since release testing aims to ensure the delivery of the highest quality software, it should be conducted at the end of the software development cycle, just before the software is released to the market.

It is recommended to perform release tests as close to the final release date as possible so that any issues discovered are resolved, and one can confidently ship software to the public.

This also helps to minimize the risk of customer complaints. In addition to performing release tests just before the final release, it is also recommended to perform regular testing during the development process to catch issues early and minimize the risk of costly bugs. This can include functional testing, performance testing, security testing, and compatibility testing, among others.

Types of Release Testing

Several types of release tests can be performed to validate a new release of a software product.

  • Functional testing: It focuses on verifying that the software product functions as expected and meets the customerā€™s requirements. This includes testing individual features and functionality, as well as testing the software product.
  • Performance testing: This type of testing focuses on evaluating the software product's performance, scalability, and reliability under load. This includes testing the software product's response time, resource usage, and stability.
  • Security testing: It evaluates the software product's security features and vulnerabilities. This includes testing the software product's authentication, authorization, and encryption features and testing for potential security exploits.
  • Compatibility testing: This type of testing focuses on evaluating the software product's compatibility with other systems, software, and hardware. This includes testing the software product's compatibility with different operating systems, browsers, and devices.
  • Usability testing: It focuses on evaluating the software product's usability and user experience. This includes testing the software product's user interface, navigation, and overall ease of use.
  • Regression testing: This type of testing focuses on verifying that changes made to the software product as part of the new release have not introduced new defects or impacted existing functionality.
  • Automated testing, unit testing, and end-to-end testing: These are all important components of the release test phase, each with its specific focus and objectives.
  • Automated testing: This technique uses software tools and scripts to perform testing tasks automatically. Automated testing can include various testing activities, including functional testing, performance testing, security testing, and others. The primary benefit of automated testing is that it can be performed more quickly and consistently than manual testing and can help to identify issues earlier in the software development process.
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  • Unit testing: Unit testing refers to the testing of individual components or modules of a software product. The objective of unit testing is to validate that each component or module works as expected and meets the requirements and to identify and resolve any defects early in the development process. Unit testing is typically performed by developers and is an integral part of most software development methodologies.
  • End-to-end testing: End-to-end testing refers to testing the software product, from start to finish. The objective of end-to-end testing is to validate that the software product integrates and works correctly with all its components and systems and that it meets the customerā€™s requirements and expectations. End-to-end testing typically involves testing the software product in a release test environment that is representative of the production environment.
  • These types of testing are all important components of the release testing. The specific types of testing depend on the software product, the customer requirements, and the software development methodology being used.

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    It provides an online device farm of 3000+ real browsers, devices, and operating system combinations to test your websites and mobile applications. With LambdaTest, you can perform functional testing, end-to-end testing, browser compatibility testing, unit testing, and more.

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Steps to perform Release Testing

In this section, we will look at the general steps to perform release testing.

  • Prepare a Test Plan: Define clear objectives and expectations for the release test process and establish a detailed test plan that outlines the testing process and timeline.
  • Define Acceptance Criteria: Clearly define the acceptance criteria for the software release and make sure that these criteria are consistently applied during testing.
  • Selecting the Right Testing Environment: Select an appropriate testing environment that simulates the actual production environment as closely as possible.
  • Test Data Preparation: Prepare test data to be used during testing, ensuring that the data is representative of the types of data that will be used in the live environment
  • Test Case Design: Design and develop test cases that cover all the important functionalities and features of the software and prioritize these tests based on risk and importance.
  • Test Execution: Perform test execution, either manually or using automated testing tools, and record the results of each test.
  • Defect Management: Having a proper defect management process helps you manage and track any defects discovered during testing, including prioritizing and resolving them on time.
  • Test Report Generation: Generate a test report that summarizes the results of the testing process, including the number of test cases executed, the number of defects found, and the overall status of the software.
  • Final Release Decision: Based on the testing process results decide whether the software is ready for release or if additional testing or remediation is required.
  • Steps to perform Release Testing

Understanding the Release Test Environment

One crucial step in release testing was selecting the testing environment. A release test environment is a dedicated environment to validate a new software product release. It simulates the production environment as closely as possible to create a production-like environment.

A typical release test environment includes the following components:

  • Hardware and software infrastructure is like the production environment, including servers, network configurations, and databases.
  • Test data that represents the data that would be present in the production environment
  • Test cases and test scripts that are designed to validate the new release against the customerā€™s requirements and expectations
  • Automated testing tools and frameworks that can be used to run tests and collect data on the performance of the software product
  • The release test environment should be isolated from the development and production environments to prevent unintended interactions or impacts on the other environments. Additionally, the release test environment should be regularly updated and maintained to ensure that it remains representative of the production environment and can provide accurate results.

Role of Configuration Management Database

A Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is important in the release test phase by providing a comprehensive view of the IT infrastructure and its components. This information can be used to ensure that the new release of the software product will be compatible with the existing IT infrastructure and meet the customerā€™s requirements and expectations.

During the release testing phase, the CMDB can be used to

  • Validate the system configurations: The CMDB can validate the system configurations, including hardware, software, and network components, to ensure that the new release will be compatible with the existing IT infrastructure.
  • Identify the potential impact of changes: The CMDB can be used to identify the effects of changes to the IT infrastructure, such as introducing new software components or updating existing components. This information can be used to minimize potential risks and to ensure a smooth transition to the latest release.
  • Track changes to the IT infrastructure: The CMDB can track changes to the IT infrastructure, such as additions, deletions, and modifications to hardware, software, and network components. This information can be used to support the release test process and ensure that the IT infrastructure is updated and maintained accurately.

In summary, a CMDB provides a centralized repository of information that can be used to manage an IT environment's configuration and change process, including software releases, and support the testing process by tracking changes and the potential impact of the new release.

Pre-Release and Post-Release Testing

Pre-release and post-release testing are two distinct phases of the software release process. Each of which has its own set of objectives and testing activities.

  • Pre-release testing
  • It takes place before the new release of a software product. This testing is typically performed in a release test environment and includes functional, performance, security, and other types of testing as needed.

    To ensure the quality of the product, the team needs to ensure that the newly developed features do not impact the existing ones and that the old features still work as expected. Because of that, before every release, it is crucial to do a regression test and confirm that the new and the old features work together in the best way possible.

  • Post-release testing
  • It takes place after a new release of a software product. Post-release testing aims to monitor the software product's performance and functionality in the real-world production environment and identify any issues or defects that may arise after the release.

    This testing typically includes monitoring the software product's logs, performance metrics, and error reports and conducting additional testing to identify and resolve any issues.

    Pre-release and post-release tests are both important components of the software release process, helping ensure that software products are delivered with high quality and meet customer requirements and expectations.

Release Testing and Application Lifecycle Management

Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is a software development approach that provides a systematic and integrated approach to managing software development projects. A release test is an important component of the ALM process, ensuring the software product delivery meets the customerā€™s requirements and expectations.

Integrating release tests into the ALM process helps.

  • Improve software quality: A release test helps identify and resolve defects early in the development process, which can help improve the overall quality of the software product.
  • Reduce risk: It helps mitigate the risks associated with releasing new software products by identifying and resolving potential issues before the software is released to production.
  • Streamline the development process: It can be integrated into the ALM process, providing a systematic and automated approach to testing, which can help to streamline the development process and reduce the time and resources required to complete the testing process.
  • Enhance collaboration: Release tests can be performed by cross-functional teams, including developers, testers, and operations personnel, which can help to enhance collaboration and communication between these teams and improve the overall efficiency of the development process.

ITIL, Puppet, and Release Testing

Information Technology Infrastructure Library or ITIL is a set of best practices for IT service management, which provides a framework for delivering high-quality IT services. It describes the means and procedures to achieve a minimum level of competency toward compliance and measuring improvement. For release testing, ITIL service validation and testing are geared towards ensuring that the releases comply with customer expectations.

Also, it ensures that the IT infrastructure supporting the system is adequate and able to support the system. It consists of a set of procedures that ensure that the aspects of the ITIL are tested and evaluated on all levels using measurements known as Key Performance Indicators. So, applying the various constituent tests will ensure that only components that meet strict criteria are deployed into the release phase.

Puppet is an open-source configuration management tool that can automate and manage IT infrastructure and services deployment. It can play an important role in the release test phase by automating the deployment of new software releases and ensuring that the IT infrastructure is updated and configured accurately. Puppet has been a common name with respect to system development and ITILs. It is hugely credited for making the release testing and debugging processes easy. It simplifies system administration, eventually making system agility a reality.

The way it works is if the system encounters a syntax error with the configurations, it gives a relevant file name and line number to correct the error at hand immediately. With respect to the overall configuration, it provides detailed output, which ensures the administrator figures out if the configuration drifts from its intended format.

Integrating ITIL and Puppet in the release test phase can help:

  • Improve the release process: ITIL provides a structured and systematic approach to IT service management, while Puppet automates the deployment of new software releases, helping to improve the overall efficiency of the release process.
  • Automated testing: Puppet can automate various aspects of the release test process, such as deploying test environments, executing tests, and collecting test results. This can help to reduce the risk of manual errors and improve the efficiency of the testing process.
  • Configuration management: ITIL provides guidance on configuration management, which can be integrated with Puppet to ensure that the right software versions and configurations are tested, deployed, and managed throughout the testing process.
  • Ensure consistency: Puppet can help ensure consistency in deploying new software releases by automating the configuration and deployment process and reducing the risk of manual errors.
  • Streamline testing process: The integration of ITIL and Puppet in the release test phase can help to streamline the testing process by automating the deployment and configuration of the test environment.
  • Improve collaboration: ITIL provides a framework for collaboration between cross-functional teams, including developers, testers, and operations personnel, while Puppet automates the deployment process, reducing the need for manual intervention and enhancing collaboration between these teams.

Modern Release Testing

Modern release testing refers to the latest practices and tools used for testing software releases in a fast-paced, ever-evolving technology landscape. Some key features include

  • Agile and DevOps: Modern release testing is often integrated into an Agile and DevOps development process, emphasizing speed, collaboration, and continuous delivery.
  • Test automation: Automated testing is a crucial aspect of modern release tests, focusing on automating as much of the testing process as possible to reduce manual effort and increase efficiency.
  • Cloud and virtualization: Modern release tests often use cloud computing and virtualization technologies to create flexible, scalable, and cost-effective test environments.
  • Continuous testing: It emphasizes the need for continuous testing, with regular testing activities integrated into the development process to ensure that the software product is always in a releasable state.
  • Testing in production: Modern release testing often includes testing in production, focusing on monitoring and testing the software product in a real-world environment to identify and resolve any issues before they become critical.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: It may also utilize Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies to automate complex testing tasks and improve the overall quality and efficiency of the testing process.

Modern release testing emphasizes speed, automation, and continuous testing to ensure that software products are high quality and meet customer requirements and expectations.

Production Release Testing with Feature Flags

Release testing in production with feature flags is a software development practice that allows new features to be tested in a live production environment while minimizing the risk to end users. Feature flags are a mechanism for controlling the deployment of new features in a software product. They allow developers to deploy new features to a production environment while keeping the feature hidden or inaccessible to end-users until it is thoroughly tested and ready for release.

Using feature flags in release tests in production can provide several benefits, including.

  • Minimizing risk: Feature flags allow developers to test new features in a live production environment while keeping the feature hidden from end-users until it is thoroughly tested and deemed ready for release. This minimizes the risk of potential issues affecting the end-user experience.
  • Improved feedback: Testing new features in a live production environment allows developers to gather real-world feedback on the functionality and performance of the new feature, which can be used to refine and improve the feature before it is released to all end-users.
  • Faster time to market: By testing new features in a live production environment, developers can identify and resolve any issues early in the development process, which can help to reduce the time and resources required to complete the testing process and improve the speed to market.
  • Better end-user experience: Feature flags allow developers to test and refine new features in a live production environment, which can help to improve the overall end-user experience by ensuring that the software product is of high quality and meets customer requirements and expectations.

Release testing in production with feature flags provides a mechanism for controlling the deployment of new features in a software product, minimizing the risk to end-users and providing improved feedback, faster time to market, and a better end-user experience.

Post-Launch in Release Testing

Making post-launch a part of the release test process involves incorporating post-release monitoring and testing into the overall software development and release process.

Here are some steps that can be taken to make post-launch a part of the release testing process:

  • Define clear post-launch objectives: Identify what you want to achieve with post-launch monitoring and testing, such as identifying and resolving any issues that impact the end-user experience, gathering feedback from end-users, and improving the overall quality and performance of the software product.
  • Establish a post-launch testing team: Assign a team responsible for post-launch testing, who will be responsible for monitoring the software product in a live production environment and testing any new features or updates.
  • Implement post-launch monitoring tools: Use tools such as log analysis, performance monitoring, and error tracking to monitor the software product in a live production environment and identify any issues that need to be addressed.
  • Integrate post-launch testing into the development process: Incorporate post-launch testing into the overall development process, ensuring that it is a regular part of the testing and release cycle.
  • Provide regular updates and feedback: Regularly communicate with end-users, stakeholders, and the development team about any issues identified during post-launch testing and any steps being taken to resolve them.
  • Continuously improve the process: Continuously review and improve the post-launch testing process to ensure that it remains effective and efficient and meets the needs of end-users and stakeholders.

How to perform Post-Release Testing?

In this section, letā€™s look at the steps to carry out post-release testing.

  • Define objectives: Clearly define the objectives and expectations of post-release testing, including what aspects of the software will be tested and what data will be collected.
  • Use a staged rollout: Consider using a staged rollout approach, where the software is first released to a small group of users for testing and feedback before being released to a broader audience.
  • Monitor key performance metrics: Continuously monitor key performance metrics, such as response time and error rates, to quickly identify and resolve any issues that arise after the release.
  • Test in a controlled environment: Create a controlled testing environment that stimulates the production environment as closely as possible to minimize the risk of impacting live clients.
  • Incorporate automated testing tools: Use automated testing tools to perform tests quickly and accurately, and to minimize the risk of human error.
  • Get user feedback: Encourage users to provide feedback on the software and use this feedback to identify and resolve any issues that arise after the release.
  • Have a rollback plan: If necessary, have a plan in place for rolling back the release to minimize the impact on live users or customers and minimize downtime.
  • Communicate with users: Regularly communicate with users to keep them informed about the status of the software and any issues that may arise.

By following these steps, organizations can effectively perform the post-release test while minimizing the impact on live end-users, ensuring a smooth and successful software release.

Conclusion

Release testing includes several software tests such as unit testing, smoke testing, regression testing, etc. Emerging modern testing practices align with Continuous Integration And Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) and DevOps. For instance, teams have begun testing small batches of functionality in production.

An ideal testing strategy would be optimizing for speed, stability, and user experience. In other words, you want to deliver the code as fast as possible while maintaining high application performance and providing a top-notch experience to customers. Running production tests with feature flags can help development teams maintain that perfect balance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is release acceptance testing?

The release acceptance test, also called the build acceptance, or smoke test is conducted for each development release to ensure that the build can undergo further testing. This test suite usually includes entrance and exit test cases that test the application's mainstream functionalities.

What is the difference between release and user testing?

Before shipping software applications, the release test validates a complete software application or system. On the other hand, user testing is a technique where system users validate the system in their environment.

How do you plan a release test?

Here are the ways to plan a release test: Analyze the software product you're testing, decide on your testing strategy, establish the test objectives and pass/fail criteria, create a test environment, and execute your test plan.

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