Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Testing a Device

An interesting question is how do you test a device (e.g., vending machine, toaster, pencil, magical food creator appliance). There is no correct answer to this question but a correct thought processLike any problem that we face as an scientist/engineer is to start from the top. It is very important at this point to understand the big picture.

For a tester this means, what are the requirements of the device? A requirements document is what the product should be or perform. The requirements define the design of the product. There is also specifications which are derived from the requirements. The developer and tester shouldn't worry about writing the specifications, just that they are met, and that they have good requirements.

FURPS represent a good model for classifying software quality attributes. Use FURPS as a high level mental checklist. From there, you can branch into each category and drill down with specific tests.

Functionality - Feature set, Capabilities, Generality, Security
Usability - Human factors, Aesthetics, Consistency, Documentation
Reliability - Frequency/severity of failure, Recoverability, Predictability, Accuracy, Mean time to failure
Performance - Speed, Efficiency, Resource consumption, Throughput, Response time
Supportability - Testability, Extensibility, Adaptability, Maintainability, Compatibility, Configurability, Serviceability, Installability, Localizability, Portability

Other things to keep in mind: input/output, display, and data model.

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