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What’s the difference between Alpha and Beta testing? This post will explain what they are, the benefits of both, and how to choose when it comes time.
Alpha testing is when there are a handful of testers in-person or online looking for bugs or glitches. This testing usually occurs a month or two before the release of a new product. The point of Alpha testing is to give the testers a chance to report problems before they become widespread, saving developers from fielding support questions and bug reports from thousands of users. This type of testing is usually done with a small group of dedicated users or highly interested individuals, often from within the studio developing the software – who may have been involved in earlier stages of development for input.
The Beta version is usually released to a larger group for testing, with the purpose being to find major bugs that weren’t caught by alpha testing. Some betas can also be used as a demo or a trial run before the final release. Usually, the Beta version will be released a little before the full version for testing purposes, to give more time for bugs or other issues to be fixed.
Beta testing happens before any new software is released to the public — instead of finding errors, this team does it all.
What’s the difference between Alpha and Beta testing?
1) Testing teams
Alpha testing is done by internal testers hired by the company releasing the software. Beta testing is done by independent testers hired by the company, but they are given more freedom than alpha testers.
2) Difference in test environment
Alpha tests are generally conducted in-house or online, while beta tests are conducted more publicly, on an actual field. Alpha tests usually do not break down to specific function areas within a program. Beta tests often do.
3) Difference in location
Alpha tests are commonly done on the developer’s location, and they may be conducted in-house, with the software provider’s employees using the software company’s equipment. Beta tests are done on an independent field typically at a testing company.
4) Difference in intention
Alpha testing is used to test out bugs and glitches, while beta tests are used to make sure the software works as designed.
5) Difference in test approach
Alpha testers focus on finding coding bugs and low-level working of the application but usually do not run into issues that require them to recall previous knowledge of application programming or technology review. Beta testers, on the other hand, need the ability to go back and review their work because they’re more familiar with certain technologies.
Are there different types of beta testing?
Yes. Beta testers fall into two categories: internal and external. Internal beta testers are full-time, internal employees of the software company releasing the software. External beta testers are independent contractors working for the software company that is releasing the program.
What’s the difference between external and internal beta testing?
1) External beta testers offer objectivity since they’re not always working for the company releasing the program, but internal beta testers can be biased to think that their product is better than what it actually is. This can make it difficult to get honest feedback since no one wants to be told their work stinks — especially if they’re working hard on something they feel passionate about.
2) Internal beta testers can be more difficult to track down than external beta testers, who are usually just looking for a job and keep in touch with their former employer. Internal beta testers may be more willing to talk openly with the software company because they’re happy they’re employed working on something they like.
3) Internal beta testers usually work inside the company and know what’s going on behind the scenes, while external beta testers often don’t know any details about what goes on during the software development process and sometimes have no idea whatsoever about what their testing will be like. This can make finding a source of quality feedback difficult.
Advantages of Alpha testing
1) Internal testing can speed up the process of finding bugs, since it is done in-house. External testers doing beta testing might not be available when needed to test with certain technology or software.
2) An internal tester is more familiar with certain technologies than external testers, who may not be sure what to look for in certain areas of the software program.
3) Internal testers feel they are part of the team and want the program to succeed just as much as anyone else on that team.
Advantages of Beta Testing
1) Because beta testers are independent and not employed by the software company, they can provide a more objective point of view than internal testers. This kind of feedback is invaluable for any software company.
2) Beta testers can work on their own time at their own location, so there’s little overhead expense on the part of the company. Businesses that want to test their software with a lot of people on a budget can benefit from using beta testers.
3) Beta testing catches errors that only occur when the program is used in different environments by different people on systems with different configurations. Tests performed on one system might not reveal errors that happen when software is used on other systems and configured differently.
4) Beta testers can provide feedback on all aspects of software development. They can offer insights into how to make the software easy to use and what features are most useful, among other things.
5) Beta testers get a sneak peek at new software before it’s available on the market, so they can get a leg up on their competition. This is a big reason why companies use beta testing.
Disadvantages of Beta Testing
1) A poor beta test can turn some potential customers away from a company’s software program, while a good test may attract new business that turns into profits for the company. Poor beta testing results in hard feelings all around, while good beta testing results in happy clients for life.
2) The time commitment for beta testing tends to be greater than that of alpha testing. The time required to review applications, equipment, and learn different computing languages can take up much of a beta tester’s in-office time.
3) Beta testers must be able to work in a team atmosphere in order to get the most accurate results. It’s also important that they stay on the same page to avoid any potential conflicts about what constitutes an error or glitch in their programs.
4) Beta testers need to be familiar with the software before using it for software testing, so it’s necessary for them to have previous knowledge of how to use the program or how it works before starting their tests.
5) Beta testers must possess the skills to keep the program’s bugs and glitches in mind while they’re reviewing it, so they can return to it later for more testing.
6) Beta testing involves a lot of communication between the testers and company staff, which can sometimes lead to disappointment if there’s poor communication between testers and staff members about what beta testing involves.
Which one should you choose?
While internal testing is more efficient, external testing may yield results that are more reliable. If you’re just starting out with software development, use internal beta testers. As you become more experienced, you can then use external beta testers.
New applications can be hard to appeal to end-users, but by conducting both alpha and beta tests, it might have a better chance of winning over clients who are already familiar with the application. Beta testing is an ideal way for companies to get their product tested without spending a lot of money on the process. It also helps to make sure there aren’t any issues that need to be worked out before the program is released. This type of testing provides a lot more information than just what someone thinks about a program after they first use it.
Read how to write good test cases with examples here.