Software Errors: Answer to All your What, Why, and How
As a tester, you will undoubtedly encounter many software errors throughout the entire testing process. But there are so many different types of software errors that can occur in software that you might become overwhelmed trying to label them correctly.
Any flaw or error in the software that results in undesirable or inaccurate results is referred to as a software error. It’s a defect that stops the software from functioning properly.
To report these errors efficiently, you need to first identify their nature. Understanding the cause behind errors will not only help in identifying them quickly but also aid you to come up with better remedies.
Additionally, you can use the knowledge of various software bugs as a checklist during test case preparation so you don’t miss out on testing for critical errors.
Continue reading to learn about common bugs you are likely to encounter while testing, their root cause for occurrence, and effective methods for finding them.
What Are Software Errors?
So, what are software errors? Software errors are flaws that result in an inaccurate or unexpected outcome from a computer program or system or cause it to act in ways that were not intended. They are any mismatches between the software and its requirement specification.
In other words, when the program or application doesn’t perform according to user expectations, we say that there’s an error in the software.
Software developers are people and so they are prone to making mistakes too. Software errors can occur due to time or resource constraints, developer inefficiency, or simply an invalid input.
Most of the errors are found and fixed during the testing phase. However, it is close to impossible to make software 100% error free due to time & resource constraints.
What Causes Software Bugs: Main Reasons For Software Defects
Knowing the root causes of software error occurrence will make you efficient in testing errors. Here are the top reasons for software bugs:
Lack of Communication
The first reason for software errors is a lack of communication between stakeholders, product managers, developers, and testers. Sometimes clients’ requirements are not made clear to the developers or the clients are unable to provide clear requirements.
It’s the product manager’s responsibility to provide developers with precise clear requirements. Misinterpretation of requirements or unclear requirements is the reason for major errors.
Also, nowadays software projects are developed by many developers residing in different places. If there is no clear communication between the developers, there are bound to be errors.
Present-day software are more complex than ever before. Multi-threaded softwares possess numerous components and layers that are difficult to develop, integrate, and maintain even for the most skilled developers. The complexity also allows for bugs to go unnoticed until too late.
Frequent Requirement Change
Customers may change their requirements frequently not understanding that such change requires a huge amount of effort on the part of developers & testers.
Complex softwares has modules that interconnect and depend on each other. Changing one minor feature can result in bugs and errors in other parts of the software.
Such frequent requirement changes can lead to many errors in the software.
Stakeholders often force unrealistic deadlines on the development & testing team.
In such time constraints, managers don’t spend enough time reviewing design & requirements, developers skip unit testing, and the testers can not implement all the tests that are required for ensuring bug-free software.
As a result of these half-efforts, numerous software errors arise.
Even skilled programmers are not completely free of coding errors. However, the majority of software bugs are typically produced by inefficient, inexperienced, or overconfident programmers.
Poor coding practice, lack of domain knowledge & unit testing, and finally not paying enough attention & care to coding are some of the common reasons for development stage errors.
Another reason for software errors is poor code documentation. Oftentimes, several developers work on the same project so it is essential that the code be properly documented so others can understand it too.
Otherwise, making new changes to the code, and bug fixing become almost impossible. On top of that, new bugs are introduced while trying to modify the code.
Integration of Third-party Tools
Developers have to integrate or use third-party tools frequently. While tools like debuggers, class libraries, visual tools, shared DLLs, and code editors can save time but they could potentially introduce bugs to your software too. It’s difficult to identify such errors as they are not part of the main code.
How To Find Software Errors?
Testers and developers work hard to find different types of software errors. To find the maximum number of errors you can follow the below techniques:
Testers have to thoroughly understand the software they are going to test. For this, read all the requirement documents, design documents, and discuss with stakeholders & developers for getting a better understanding of the software.
When you have a clear understanding of how the application is supposed to work, it’ll be easy to notice errors.
Extensive Test Plan
After proper research, make a test plan that covers all the requirements. Having a clear plan with maximum test coverage will allow you to detect errors easily and let you identify requirements that haven’t been tested before.
Most software errors occur during the coding phase. If developers perform unit tests after each module has been coded, most of the errors would be detected.
Utilize Pareto Principle
The Pareto principle says that 80 percent of all software bugs are present in about 20 percent of the code. It means some modules are prone to have more bugs than others.
If you can identify these problem areas, you’ll be able to detect 80% of the bugs. For this, categorize the bugs by reason of occurrence and try to find the source of occurrence.
Check the Test Environment
Sometimes bugs originate from the test environment and not the software itself. If you check the test environment properly, you’ll be able to identify these bugs easily. Nothing could be more frustrating than trying to solve a bug that isn’t present in the code.
Test on Real Device
Some errors are not visible until they are used by the customer such as operating system, browser, or device incompatibilities. To find these errors, you have to test the software on real devices. Make sure to run the software on both older and newer versions of a browser, OS, or device as it can behave differently in different versions.
Different Types Of Software Errors
There can be many different types of software errors in a product. Here’s a brief description of the ones you are most likely to encounter.
User Interface Error
UI errors are bugs or defects that appear when the user or customer is interacting with the application interface. Most typical user interface errors are missing or incorrect functions, confusing or wrong information, lack of help text, spelling mistakes, poor responsiveness, OS incompatibility, etc.
When any software functionality doesn’t perform as it should it’s called a function error. For example, if you click a button that’s supposed to take you to the next page, but clicking the button doesn’t do what it was supposed to do, it’s a function error.
Hardware error is any error inside the hardware that is connected to the application or an error on the device where the application is run. Using the wrong device, time-out issues, incompatibility, non-availability, and incorrect device addresses are some of the common hardware defects.
Boundary-related errors occur when the user inputs parameters outside the boundaries set during coding. This happens due to inefficient error handling, non-visible boundaries, and mismanagement of cases beyond space, time, & memory boundaries.
Incorrect Program Version
During development and testing, multiple versions of the software are developed. Also, many versions of the same software are released to solve existing errors. Not assigning proper version id, reoccurrence of old bugs in newer versions, and failure in updating all version code when modifications are done can lead to errors.
In cases when the application developers don’t match with user requirements we say that a requirement error has occurred. Often customers fail to convey requirements clearly or developers misinterpret the requirement. As a result, the product built doesn’t meet customer requirements.
Syntax errors are really common and they occur when programmers miss out on some characters or write the wrong characters during coding.
For example, a missing bracket could cause a syntax error. Syntax errors are easier to find and fix as compilers point out the mistakes.
Logic errors mainly occur due to poor coding. This kind of error may result in the application producing inaccurate output, hanging, or even crashing.
The infinite loop is a typical logical error.
Design error is a mistake in initial software design. Choosing the wrong algorithm, incompatible environment, wrong language, and setting up software control flow in a way that takes more time are some common design errors.
Apart from these, there are many more types of software errors such as error handling error, calculation errors, race conditions, control flow errors, etc.
Why Is Bug Testing An Important Part Of Software Development?
In today’s software industry bug testing has become an integral part of software development. It’s impossible to think about releasing software without first testing it for bugs. The importance of bug testing includes:
- To make sure our software is bug-free, we need to be able to first detect them. Bug testing is how we can detect defects and then take proper action to resolve them.
- Bug testing acts as a quality gate during software development.
- Bug testing & fixing in the initial development phase is relatively easier and inexpensive than in later stages when this cost goes up dramatically.
- If testing continues from the start of the development phase, testers don’t have to deal with an application plagued with tons of errors.
- This process ensures good software quality as well as a satisfactory user experience.
- Testing for bugs also reduces the risk of post-release errors.
- Testing aids in determining how resilient the system is to malicious activity.
- Effective bug testing helps a business win a loyal and satisfied consumer base in addition to ensuring high-quality software.
Testing errors are different from errors that occur during development and user handling. These are errors that occur during the software testing life cycle. Mainly errors that occur during test planning, execution, documentation, and reporting are known as testing errors.
These errors are produced by the QA manager, tester, test analysts, or test engineers. Common testing errors are:
- Lack of proper test coverage
- Data handling errors
- Inability to execute tests
- Inefficient test documentation
- Failure to detect & report bugs
- Ineffective test of requirements
- Failure to confirm bug fixes
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Performance Error In Software?
Performance errors are bugs that affect the software speed, stability, response time, power consumption, and other performance-related aspects negatively.
How Can You Classify Software Errors On The Basis of Severity?
Software errors can be divided into 4 groups based on severity. They are Critical Defects, High-severity Defects, Medium-Severity Defects, and Low-severity Defects.
Why Does System-Integration Error Occur?
System integration error mainly occurs because of inconsistencies among separate components or failure to interact between two or more code modules. Different modules of the system are generally developed by different developers. Hence, errors occur while integrating them together.
Mainstream software development practice puts high importance on software testing and quality assurance. The goal is to create high-quality software capable of meeting client requirements.
Testers should be capable of finding, identifying, and reporting different types of software errors, to ensure bug-free good-quality software. As a tester you can not do so without learning about the types of software errors, their reason for the occurrence, and ways to find them.
We’ve discussed in detail the various error types, main causes of error, and effective methods of finding errors. Now, it is time for you to utilize this knowledge to find and report maximum bugs in the next project you work on.
Rahnuma is a technical content writer at software testing stuff. A software engineer by degree and a dynamic content creator by passion, she brings to table over 3 years of writing experience in tech niche. Combining her enthusiasm for writing and technology, she loves to share her thoughts on the latest tech trends.