Test Environment for Software Testing

Setting up test environments introduces many new struggles, like how to manage all these environments. It’s often difficult to create an exact replica of your production environment. Besides that, manually creating those environments requires a lot of time and effort from the testing engineer.

What is Test Environment?

A test environment can be defined as a test setup comprised of software, hardware, firmware and necessary network configured. It is a test bench where all the tests are performed, it consists of all the required infrastructure to perform the tests. The idea behind the test environment is to replicate the production environment as much as possible.

This helps in identifying the issues (if any) during the tests. A tested is a part of a test environment that is specifically configured according to the requirements of a particular application. Most of the tests happen on the testbed itself. It is a combination of both test environments as well as test data.

What Is a Test Bed?

A test bed is a test environment that has been prepared with test data. The test data helps you verify test cases that require a certain data setup.

For example, let’s say you want to test whether a specific function creates invoices for sales data that is present in a specific database. Since we need to prepare the database with data, this test environment is considered a test bed.

In fact, the difference between a test environment and test bed is quite small, but it’s important to know the nuance between both terms.

What Is a Staging Environment?

On the other side, we often find a staging environment.

A staging environment replicates the production environment that will host the live version of your application. It’s crucial that your staging environment is an exact replica of your production environment.

Often, this can be achieved by having very detailed documentation. It should describe all the needs and correct configuration for your production environment.

Key Elements for Creating a Test Environment

As I said in the introduction, creating the right test environment requires many elements. Here’s a list of requirements you’ll have to complete when creating test environments:

  • Create test data and insert to test environment (test bed)
  • Set up database
  • Configure the environment
  • Select the right hardware and operating system (e.g. evaluate the difference between running application on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10)
  • Configure the network (e.g. cross-origin resource sharing)

The most important step is to document all actions. This is key for other users to be able to replicate the environment. Additionally, detailed documentation enables the testing engineer to set up different test environments, such as staging and production environments.

List of things require in Setting up the Test Environment.

  • Software product, on which testing needs to be performed.
  • Operating system, Testing Server and Database.
  • Test Data and Data configuration.
  • Network connectivity and configuration.
  • Hardware devices such as machines or PCs.
  • Test Framework and tools like automation tools and debugging tools.
  • Licensing.
  • Third party software or other software for user purpose.
  • Interfaces between the system and applications.
  • Specific devices such as simulators.
  • Documentation such as user manual, etc.
  • Knowledge of customer’s and business requirements.

Process of Software Test environment setup

The test environment requires setting up of various number of distinct areas like,

a. Setup of Test Server

Every test may not be executed on a local machine. It may need establishing a test server, which can support applications.

b. Network

Network set up as per the test requirement. It includes,

  • Internet setup
  • LAN setup
  • Private network setup

c. Test PC setup

For web testing, you may need to set up different browsers for different testers. For desktop applications, you need various types of OS for different testers PCs.

d. Bug Reporting

Bug reporting tools should be provided to testers.

e. Test Tool

If it is Automated Testing then Test Tool and other Supported software for Test Automation

Top 5 Factors of Test Environment

The test environment consists of certain factors and characteristics that are needed for testing. It would require people throughout the spectrum of software development as the software should be ideally error-free and test cases should be created in such a way that all areas are covered.

1. Servers and Databases

Servers play an important role in the test setup. Many times it so happens that the set up is a specific geographic location and it should be used by many people all over the world as most of the tests cannot be done on their local machines. In cases like these, a test server is set up and it can be used by everyone. Databases are used to store huge datasets, in this case, test results from the tests to be referred to in the future if needed.

2. Testing Personnel

Testing environment setup involves different types of people like:

  • Developers who develop the software.
  • Testers to test the software.
  • The system admin provides backend support.
  • All the categories mentioned above create test cases to find out all possible bugs and defects.

3. Network

The network is very important as there is no data transfer without it. Testing involves a lot of data (inputs, simulation data, etc.). Having a proper network, Internet, LAN setup or any private network is essential for a test environment.

4. Bug Reporting Tool

Reporting the issues and bugs is as important as finding them. A proper logging tool should be used by the test environment so that the developers know all the issues present and fix them. There are many open-source and licensed bug reporting and managing tools like Bugzilla, JIRA, RTC, etc.

5. Test Environment Management

Test environment management maintains the testbeds so that they are always in the right condition to perform tests.
This involves setting up testbeds based on the demands of the test teams. Setting up a central repository of all the needed and supporting software and keeping them up to date with version control. This also documents all the setup details, various tests executed and the results. This helps in designing the test cases in the future. The test results can be used as a reference in fixing the bugs as well.

Advantages of Test Environment

  • This testbed is a big advantage for software that has legacy code and minor additions, fixes as the majority of the code remains the same. Tests have been set up already and reusing the existing ones saves a lot of time.
  • Reduces production costs by finding the bugs in the early stages.
  • Covering all scenarios for testing increases software reliability. It also helps in finding out missing implementations of software.

Disadvantages of Test Environment

  • In today’s agile work process, requirements keep changing all the time. As the software and its logic changes, testing has to be done all over again from the start. This is a disadvantage to any software development cycle that is iterative
  • Continuous maintenance and effort are required as predefined tests are not applicable. Tests have to be written every time.
  • Tedious to test all possible scenarios like out of bound testing, regression testing.