Installation Tests Introduction - Web Service Testing

This chapter looks at the functional roles of installation and uninstallation programs. Common errors and issues that are associated with these programs in Web environments are discussed. Installation methods for both client-side and server-side installations are explored. Test-case design and test considerations for testing installation and uninstallation programs are covered. Tips and tools related to tracking changes to the environment are also discussed.

In an installation process, undetected errors—either server-side or client-side—can prevent robust applications from functioning properly. Web applications involve a server-side software installation of one sort or another. Occasionally, Web applications, even those that utilize Web browsers for their user interface (UI), also involve client-side software installations (installing plug-in components, ActiveX controls, etc.). Some Web applications install platform-specific TCP/IP clients that are used in place of regular browsers. Effective installation testing requires solid knowledge of the operating system and the environment on which the installer will be running and the application will be installed. Environmental dependencies involving software/hardware configurations and compatibility need to be clearly understood so that failure symptoms can be quickly identified as either software errors or user errors.

Installation program bugs may originate from several sources:

  • The detection and interpretation of environment variables (e.g., How much disk space is available? Which browser is installed and where is it installed?).
  • The copying of files. For Web installations, a common source of error is having an intermittent network connection.
  • The configuration of the system and the environment.
  • Software and hardware incompatibility.
  • The user might install the wrong application or the wrong version or might terminate operation prematurely or do other things that interfere with the installation.
  • Background noise—for example, the virus checker that the user runs in the background might interfere with installation in several ways. Sometimes, the installation itself will propagate a virus.

We can improve our effectiveness if we learn as much as possible about what the operating system expects from the installed application and what common application setup errors have already been discovered.


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