The success of any software in the market depends on various factors. These include the ability to meet specific objectives, delivering superior user experiences and level of security, and ensuring compatibility across platforms, among others. Today’s tech-savvy users want their software applications to work seamlessly across digital environments. The environments may include devices and their resolutions, browsers, operating systems, and networks. And to ensure the flawless functioning of any software application across digital environments, they should be subjected to compatibility testing.
It is a type of non-functional software testing intended to check whether the software is capable of working across IT environments such as computing devices, various hardware configurations, browsers, operating systems, applications, and networks. It can be of various types depending on the specific computing environment.
The customers use a plethora of devices to access the internet and its various services. Generally, the devices used by them are of different make with various software and hardware configurations. For any software to be accepted by the customers, the same should function irrespective of the computing environment. For example, if a mobile application works well on the Android platform it should work equally well on an iOS platform. One of the reasons for any software application to lose its appeal in the market is its inability to work flawlessly across all digital environments.
It is only by subjecting a software to rigorous and comprehensive compatibility testing services that its functioning across environments can be assured. In its absence, the application may develop performance issues like latency, unresponsiveness across device platforms, and less throughput. If such issues are not addressed before the release of the application, the customers may stop using the software altogether.
There are various types of compatibility testing depending on the application’s operating environment:
- Hardware: In this type of testing, the software is checked whether its various features and functionalities function flawlessly across all hardware configurations including processor, memory, etc.
- Cross Browser: In this compatibility test plan, the software’s performance is tested across browsers such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.
- Software: Here, the software is tested for its compatibility with other software such as MS Word, MS Excel, MS Outlook, or VBS.
- Network: The software’s performance is validated across networks against various parameters. These include bandwidth, capacity, operating speed, and throughput.
- Operating System: The software is checked to ascertain whether it runs seamlessly across all operating systems and their versions. These include Windows, macOS or iOS (for mobile,) Android (for mobile), and Unix.
- Device: The software is checked for its performance across devices and their components such as USP ports, scanners, printers, and other media devices.
- Software version: Every higher software version includes new features, functionalities, and added capacity. It is not always the case that a software working flawlessly on the lower version of an operating system or browser is likely to perform similarly on the latter’s higher versions. Hence, for any software compatibility testing, it is important to check if the software is functioning seamlessly across all OS and browser versions – Windows 7 and 10 etc.
Again, software compatibility testing can be of two types – backward and forward.
- Backward compatibility testing: Here, the software is tested for its performance on the older versions of the operating systems or browsers.
- Forward compatibility testing: The software is tested for its performance on the newer versions of the operating systems or browsers.
- At the outset, the testers define the platforms or environments within which the software under testing is expected to function.
- The testers should know the expected behavior of the software under different environments and configurations.
- The environment to be set up for testing should include different devices, networks, hardware configurations, and platforms.
- If real environments cannot be set up then emulators or virtual environments can be created.
- Run the tests to identify and fix the bugs. Conduct retesting of the fixed codes to check if they are working fine.
It is only by employing compatibility testing in the SDLC that the functionality and performance of a software application across digital environments can be assured. Unfortunately, many organizations ignore this type of testing without realizing its benefits and suffer the consequences.