Visual Basic

Integration Testing

This is the next level up and is concerned with confirming that no problems arise out of combining unit components into more complex processes. For example, two discrete functions might appear to test successfully in isolation, but if function B is fed the output of function A as one of its parameters, it might not perform as expected. One possible cause might be incorrect or insufficient data validation. Using the previous example of the calculation of the single net salary figure, the actual system might implement a menu or command button option to calculate the salaries for all employees and produce a report of the results. It is this entire routine that qualifies as an integration test.

As with unit testing, it is important to write test plans that will execute along all conceivable paths between the units. Integration testing, by its nature, will probably be performed by a dedicated tester-except for small projects.

System Testing

System testing is concerned with the full build of an application (or application suite). At this level, the emphasis is less on bug hunting per se, and more on checking that the various parts of the system correctly interact with each other. The level of testing that would be conducted at this phase would be more systemwide. For example, it could include correct initialization from the Registry, performance, unexpected termination of resources (for example, database connections being terminated when other parts of the system still expect them to be there), logon failures, error recovery and centralized error handling (if appropriate), correct GUI behavior, and correct help file topics, to name just a few.

A system test is conducted on a complete build of the application under construction or at least on a specified phase of it. Ideally, it should be in the state in which the end user will see it (for example, no test dialog boxes popping up and no "different ways of doing things until we code that part of the interface"). Therefore, it should be as complete as possible. In my opinion, the testing cycle should also include the system installation task and not just the execution of the application. If you are developing software for corporatewide use, it is highly unlikely that you will be performing the installations. Most large corporations have dedicated installation teams, and these people are still end users in that they will be running software that you have generated. On the other hand, if you are developing commercial software, the setup program is the first thing the "real" user will see. First impressions count. The Setup Wizard has matured into a very useful tool, but you should still test its output.