by Dinesh Thakur

The first level of testing is called unit testing. In this, different modules are tested against the specifications produced during design for the modules. Unit testing is essentially for verification of the code produced during the coding phase, and hence the goal is to test the internal logic of the modules. It is typically done by the programmer of the module.

A module is considered for integration and use by others only after it has been unit tested satisfactorily. Due to its close association with coding, the coding phase is frequently called “coding and unit testing”. As the focus of this testing level is on testing the code, structural testing is best suited for this level. In fact, as structural testing is not very suitable for large programs, it  is used mostly at the unit testing level.

The next level of testing is often called integration testing. In this, many unit tested modules are combined into subsystems, which are then tested. The goal here is to see if the modules can be integrated properly. Hence, the emphasis is on testing interfaces between modules. This testing activity can be considered testing the design.

The next level is system testing and acceptance testing. Here the entire software system is tested. The reference document for this process is the requirements document, and the goal is to see if the software meets its requirements. This is essentially a validation exercise, and in many situations it is the only validation activity.

Acceptance testing is sometimes performed with realistic data of the client to demonstrate that the software is working satisfactorily. Testing here focuses on the external behavior of the system; the internal logic of the program is not emphasized. Consequently, mostly functional testing is performed at these levels.