Recently an error was revealed in the online software application used by thousands of people in the UK when calculating their divorce settlements. It seems the potential cost was not fully recognized and hence the ROI (Return on Investment) calculations not properly performed.
T&VS, a leader in software test and hardware verification solutions, offers the following web application testing steps that should have been taken to discover that error much earlier without all the associated financial and personal costs.
Step 1: Test at the lowest level
Complex web applications are built from basic “units” of software. Ensuring they function correctly can catch errors early when they are cheap to fix. In this case it seems that the basic mathematical formulae used to calculate the settlement appear to be incorrect.
Step 2: Ensure the software design is modular
Ensuring the basic “units” are decoupled as much as possible is essential to simplify software and increase the benefits of testing. For example, in this case, the user interface and the underlying mathematical functions should have been separated. This would allow them to be tested separately.
Step 3: Test as a user would use it
In the jargon they are called “use cases” but it is common sense. In this example the bug was spotted by a user who was checking the output from the website through his own calculations. Such basic tests should have been carried out before the website was released. It is also important to check for common errors that users might make (or “non-use cases” in the jargon).
This appears to be an error that a basic approach to web application testing would have found earlier thus avoiding all the financial, reputational and personal costs that are now bound to follow.
At T&VS we help our clients to ensure their products (from complex hardware through safety critical software to web applications) are fit for purpose and understand how much testing is required to ensure good ROI.
Feel free to contact us for more details.
About the author:
Dr. Mike Bartley has been involved in testing software and hardware for over 25 years. He started Test and verification Solutions (a company dedicated of software testing and hardware verification) in 2007 and has grown it into a global service and product provider.