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看过很多人对软件测试的心得体会,但是多数文章都是以技术的角度去讲述。今天我就换一种思路,从商业的角度来谈谈自己对软件测试的看法吧。本文只代表了作者本人的观点,难免会有其偏颇之处,再加上商业这个话题带来的铜臭味,都注定了这个话题不会讨人喜欢。要特别注意的是,文中的部分概念是基于作者的理解,请读者在阅读本文时一定要带有自己的判断力。

谈到商业,最关键的两个词是“成本”与“收益”。从狭义上看,成本与收益体现在货币上。从广义上看,成本与收益体现在一切可能转化为货币的资源上(人力,物力,时间等等)。本文中,取其广义的概念。

软件公司也好,互联网公司也好,也许它们更喜欢自己被称为“科技公司”,但是不过其性质如何,只要带上了“公司”,那么必然离不开“营利”两个字。

进一步讲,这就要求公司内的各项业务,要么能直接带来利润,要么能间接(帮助公司的其它业务)带来利润,要么能降低成本。对于绝大多数的IT公司,软件测试属于降低成本的业务(专注于开发测试工具的软件公司除外)。

为什么说软件测试是降低成本的业务呢?

首先要明确一下,对于公司来说,降低风险其实就是降低成本。当软件未经过测试便发布时,可能具有大量的风险(功能残缺,易用性差,稳定性差,兼容性差等质量问题)。当这些质量问题影响到了最终用户时,很可能会使公司损失大量金钱、名誉,以及市场。所以,出于降低风险的考虑,测试是必不可少的环节。假如所有生意都是一锤子买卖的话,那么测试大约就没有存在的必要了。

但即使是降低成本的业务,其本身也是有成本的。软件测试中,最显而易见的成本来自于三处:A、工程师的薪酬;B、所需要的设备购买;C、完成任务所需的工时(决定了产品发布日期)。其中B相对固定,不会发生频繁变化,而且在成本中所占比例较低。如果想降低软件测试的成本,就要着重从A、C两个点入手。

这就引出了“自动化测试”的概念。就像工业中经常用到的机器人一样,其引入的初衷是为了解决两个问题:如何降低成本,如何完成人难以完成的任务。自动化测试通过减少重复测试的次数、排除了人工测试可以带来的误操作、不间断地运行、易于复用等优点,可以大大减少测试中的人力投入与工时。

令我惊讶的是,很多人提到“自动化测试”时,总是带着一种对于的技术痴迷,最显而易见的特点是,他们认为手工测试是很落后的。我很理解这种想法,大概和哥伦布初次登上美洲大陆看到印第安土著的感觉差不多——惊讶之余夹杂着几分对落后文明的不屑。

这里有必要重定义一下软件测试的概念:

在(软件)产品交付至最终用户前,模拟最终用户来进行(软件)产品验收的过程,称为软件测试。

最终用户可以是机器,也可以是自然人。如果测试的是一个“接口”,那么最终用户是与其对接的程序。如果测试的是以提供内容为主的软件(如:游戏),那么最终用户必然是自然人。

那么如果有几十款游戏(App)需要测试怎么办?难道需要几十个测试人员吗?

几十个测试人员着实有些夸张,不过十几个测试人员恐怕是难免的。底层的部分自动化测试或许可以派上用场,但是对于表层的内容,只能依赖于测试人员。毕竟游戏(App)面对的是自然人,而不是由机器去体验。

模拟最终用户的行为,是测试的核心思想。在商业环境下,技术不是为了更酷,而是为了盈利。

如果自动化测试无法应用或者难以降低成本的话,还有别的方法降低成本吗?

去寻找更廉价的劳动力。

这就是为什么一些外国公司会选择把测试部门设在中国,为什么一些大公司会选择把测试业务交给外包公司。跳出测试这个圈子看的话,这也是现下很多创业公司逃离北上广、奔赴二三级城市发展的原因之一。
还有一个方法,但是我实在不忍心、也不愿意去说——进行中国特色的加班(实际上这是在透支未来)。

资本总是贪婪的。它们希望成本无限趋近于零。幸好不存在无限降低成本的方法。

谢天谢地。


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