You’ve done it—you’ve finally updated your system’s user interface (UI) after spending months working on it. Or, maybe you fixed an urgent, major bug causing massive outages. Perhaps you just patched a small bug that’s been bothering you for months.
Whatever updates you’ve made to your system, you need to make sure that the fix doesn’t cause unexpected problems elsewhere—that’s where regression testing comes in.
What is Regression Testing?
Regression testing is an approach to software testing that confirms or denies a system’s functionality after applying changes to it, ensuring that your change hasn’t created new, unintended bugs somewhere else in the system.
Oftentimes, regression testing is viewed as a small step in the overall development process—if it’s even remembered at all—but it’s so much more valuable than that. With every change you make to the code, you can potentially change other parts of the code that were dependent on that line.
For example, imagine you have a software company that works in the education and learning field. You might have a software application that allows teachers to add, save, delete, and refresh their course materials in an online learning tool. The company has decided it’s time for the UI to be refreshed, and your developers work to create a cleaner UI for months. You test that the UI looks as intended and then release it.
But, after the new version is released, you start getting reports from frustrated teachers that they now can’t delete old or inaccurate materials. This is what we would call a “regression bug.” It happens when a piece of code is dependent upon another piece of code that was either removed or modified in some way for another update (in this case, the old UI).
By integrating regression testing into your processes, you can avoid situations like this entirely.
When Should You Use Regression Testing?
Besides large updates like those in our previous examples, developers should ideally perform regression testing after making any changes to the code—no matter how big or how small. There might be many functionalities that are dependent on that code, so anytime you make a change, there should always be regression testing as a way to ensure total functionality.
Unfortunately, with the demands placed on many development teams, performing regression testing at this frequency might not be feasible. If not, teams should strive to use this type of testing at regular intervals, whether it’s after implementing every change, at the end of every week, or on a biweekly basis. The more often you perform regression tests, the better. It allows for issues to be discovered and resolved that much faster, ultimately keeping your customers happy.
Limits of Automated Regression Testing
Automated regression testing can be a powerful tool when used correctly. It helps to test more faster, while also ensuring that that it’s done accurately. Like everything in the testing space, it’s not without nuance. The quality of regression tests depends on the quality of their design. It’s all too easy to design a test poorly when you don’t know what bugs you’re looking for.
In our education and learning example, it might be obvious to test that teachers can delete content. But something that might not be so obvious would be if students can still access the removed content. With automated testing, it would be all too easy to overlook this in the test design phase.
To avoid succumbing to the pitfalls of automated regression testing, development teams should look to combine automated testing with crowdtesting to ensure no issues slip through the cracks.
How Crowdtesting Can Help
While automated tests can handle more obvious tests as well as more manual, repetitive tests, crowdtesting can bring its own set of unique benefits to the table. With crowdtesting, you can harness the power of dozens—if not hundreds—of people to deal with the more volatile and subtle tests. By setting up automated tests to deal with larger issues, you can use the power of the crowd to find masked defects. Only humans can truly understand human behavior, making them uniquely able to detect issues that machines aren’t capable of catching.
Another added value they bring: they can suggest ways to make improvements. This saves a great deal of unnecessary coding time during further development.
In our learning and education example, a crowdtester would not only point out that students can still access the deleted content, but might have ideas for fixing the problem, like editing permissions.
By working with crowdtesters, organizations can gain a broad-spectrum review of their software, increasing confidence every time you ship, saving time and money for development teams.
Best Practices in Regression Testing
In summary, companies need to keep three things in mind when performing regression tests:
- Maintain a schedule: Create a realistic testing schedule that your team can maintain throughout the software development life cycle, so that your product is always functioning at its best.
- Use automated testing: For more obvious tests and manual, repetitive tasks, take advantage of automated testing in order to cover more ground, test faster and more accurately.
- Harness the power of the crowd: When used in conjunction with automated testing, crowdtesting can prove invaluable to your workflows. By working with the crowd, you can uncover and fix flaws that might otherwise have gone unnoticed in automated tests.
No matter how big or small your system update is, regression testing is crucial to ensuring software functions properly and, even more importantly, to keeping your customers happy. By integrating both automated regression testing and regression testing performed by the crowd into your regular routine, you can outpace the competition and maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Reach out to us here to see what crowdtesting can do for you.