Alpha and beta testing are important testing phases for success of any software release. Both these testing techniques have saved thousands of dollars to large scale software releases for companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft.
The purpose of this article is to educate you on these testing terms and how you can use these techniques to earn some extra income or even to get a full time testing job. Freshers can put beta testing experience in resume to make it stand out from the crowd.
Read on to know more..
What is Alpha Testing?
This is a form of internal acceptance testing performed mainly by in-house software QA and testing teams. Alpha testing is the last testing done by test teams at development site after the acceptance testing and before releasing the software for beta test. Alpha testing can also be done by potential users or customers of the application. But still this is a form of in-house acceptance testing.
What is Beta Testing?
This is a testing stage followed by internal full alpha test cycle. This is the final testing phase where companies release the software for few external user groups outside the company test teams or employees. This initial software version is called as beta version. Most companies gather user feedback in this release.
The simple definition of beta testing – testing carried out by real users in real environment.
Though companies do rigorous in-house quality assurance from dedicated test teams, it’s practically impossible to test application for each and every combination of the test environment. Beta releases make it easier to test application on thousands of test machines and fix the issues before releasing the application publicly. The selection of beta test groups can be done based on company needs. Company can either invite few users to test the preview version of the application or they can release it openly to try by every user.
Fixing the issues in beta release can significantly reduce the development cost as most of the minor glitches get fixed before the final release. Till now many big companies successfully used beta versions of their most anticipated applications. E.g. Recently Microsoft corporation released Windows 7 beta and based on feedback from thousands of users they managed to release a stable OS version. In past Apple also releases OS X beta in public and fixed many minor issues and improved the OS based on user feedback.
Related Useful Terms:
Beta Software – Preview version of the software released to the public before final release.
Beta Version – Software version releases in public that include almost all of the features but not development complete yet and may still have some errors.
Beta Testers – Testers who work on testing beta version of the software release.
How Companies Can Make Beta Test Successful
- First decide on how many days you want to keep the beta version available for testers
- Identify ideal user groups to perform this test – Either limited group of users or in public
- Provide clear test instructions (user manual)
- Make the beta software available to these groups – Gather feedback and defects
- Based on feedback analysis decide which issues needs to be fixed before final release
- Once the suggestions and defects are fixed, again release the changed version for verification to the same groups
- Once all tests are complete do not accept any further feature change request for this release
- Remove the beta label and release the final software version
How to Get Started As a Beta Tester
Once your application as a beta tester is accepted by a company follow these steps:
- Download and read the software requirement specifications, known defects and modules to test
- Download and install the beta software
- Start testing
- Prepare the bug report for the issues found in the application
- Also note down your suggestions/feedback about the application to improve the user experience
- Submit the bug report and feedback to the company
Adding Beta Testing Experience in Your Resume
Many entry level candidates complaint about not getting real-time testing experience on software projects. Testing beta releases is the best opportunity for freshers to show their skills and also to get hands-on experience on real projects. You can even put this experience in your resume with details (like project, project description, test environment etc.) about the beta application you tested. This will definitely catch the employer attention especially when you are a fresher seeking job in software testing field.
How to Find an Opportunity as a Beta Tester
Option 1: Get software testing experience
Let’s take an example of Microsoft. You can apply to become a beta tester for Microsoft. If you check these opportunities at Microsoft there are currently more than 40 beta software available for testing. Microsoft corporation is accepting defects and suggestions for these products. This is a huge opportunity for you. Browse this list, select a product and start testing it locally. Use all your testing skills to find and log defects. Who knows – this might even land you the job of your dreams in any of such companies offering beta versions to test. You can also find some more beta application testing opportunities here and here.
Option 2: Make some extra money
Some companies even pay you money to test their beta applications. Video game testing industry is one of the best starting point for paid beta testing opportunities. Most video game companies pay decent amount to beta testers for testing beta versions of their video game releases. But be careful before making any investment as there are many scam sites asking money to join as a game tester. Before making any commitment make sure you investigate the site carefully. You can also find real jobs as beta testers on some career sites like careers.org and simplyhired.
I mentioned the second option as just one of the opportunities for you but my main purpose is to educate you on beta testing opportunities you can use to improve your testing skill on real-life projects and the experience to put in your resume to get your dream job.
Over to You:
Have you ever tried to test beta software versions and logged any defects? Do you know any other opportunities/places where your fellow testers can find beta software for test? I would appreciate your help on this.