What is a software bug in testing? Tools for bug tracking

Bug is one of the most commonly used terms in IT tester jobs. In software testing, identifying and fixing bugs is an integral part of the process. In our article you will find out how the term bug came about, why bug fixing is important and what kinds of software bugs you can encounter in your job as an IT tester.

The term bug was first mentioned in the context of software in 1944. It was used by scientist Grace Hopper, who is known as the mother of computing. Grace’s collaborators at Harvard University in Cambridge pulled an insect from between two electrical relays that was causing the hardware to malfunction. It didn’t take long before the term bug became increasingly associated with bugs in software.

Nowadays, the term software bugrefers to a problem created during development and discovered during software testing. In other words, it is a flaw in a component, system or software that can cause the system to fail or malfunction. The software tester is responsible for finding such errors. The process of identifying and removing bugs is called debugging.

The app’s non-functionality may not be caused only by a bug

In addition to a bug, defect, error, mistake or failure can also cause an application to crash or malfunction. Each of these terms denotes a different problem that a software tester must face. In a technical context, the words “bug” and “defect” are often used synonymously, but they do not always have exactly the same meaning.

In the context of employment as an IT tester, you should be familiar with these terms, as this is the basic terminology of a software tester. If you are just starting out as a Software tester junior, below you will find a clear explanation of the terms used:

  • A defect is a specific instance of an error or incorrectness in the software. It is a specific problem that may cause undesired functionality or product failure.
  • A bug is a generic term that refers to some form of deficiency, problem, or incorrectness in software or another product.
  • It can also be a specific type of problem that usually indicates a programming error or a bug in the source code.
  • Error is a term usually used to refer to an error in a process or calculation. In a software context, it can mean an error in an algorithm or mathematical calculation.
  • Mistake refers to human error or wrongness in a decision or action. It can be a source of bugs in the software if, for example, the programmer makes a mistake in the implementation.
  • Failure refers to a situation where a system, component or product fails to meet the required specifications or expectations. Software failures can cause many different kinds of errors.

What causes bugs in software and what types of software development bugs we know

Software bugs negatively affect the functioning and safe use of the software. If a software product does not undergo early testing before it is released to the public, many complications would arise in its use, such as:

  • the product will not work according to the requirements of the customer,
  • a poor quality product will not meet the user’s expectations,
  • Late diagnosis of software bugs will increase the cost of the overall product.

Software bugs can be caused by many factors, including unclear requirements, software complexity, lack of communication between the jobs of the tester and the software developer, or documentation errors.

The most common types of software errors

From the user’s point of view, software bugs can be divided into visual and functional bugs. With visual software defects, the website or application works, but the user sees obvious imperfections. Most often the problem is related to the responsive design of the application. Therefore, it is necessary for a software tester to test applications in both web and mobile interfaces. More serious is if the user encounters a software functional error, which means that the software does not work as it should and that individual functions in the application do not work.

Software bugs can also be classified according to the level of difficulty they cause in use. Low-impact bugs have minimal impact on usage. High-impact bugs affect some level of functionality, but the app can still be used. In the case of critical software bugs, the software is unusable and such an application cannot reach the hands of the user.

Another division of software bugs focuses on where the bug occurs. Simple software bugs contained in a single unit of code are called unit-level bugs. They are usually caused by calculation errors (called arithmetic or mathematical errors in the code) or logical errors that occur when the program prints incorrect information or gets stuck and does not provide any information. Such errors are usually easy to correct.

System-level bugs are more complex bugs caused by multiple pieces of software. Their diagnosis requires an experienced tester.

Tools used by an IT tester to find software bugs

There are six phases of the software development lifecycle, with early testing being one of the most important. The role of a software tester is the manual or automated testing of the functionality of the software in order to find any major bugs that cause it to malfunction. In software testing, we have various tools at our disposal to identify software or application bugs.

Jira – a bug tracking and project management tool

Jira is one of the most widely used tools for bug tracking, project management, and issue tracking among both automated and manual testing tools. The software was developed by the Australian company Atlassian and is based on agile approach of software testing.

Bug tracking and project management tool
Jira is one of the most popular bug tracking tools for manual testing.

Bugzilla supports different operating systems

Bugzilla is also a very popular open-source bug tracking tool. It is most commonly used to keep track of bugs and also as a test management tool, as it can link other test case management tools such as ALM. The advantage of the Bugzilla testing tool is that it supports different operating systems such as Windows, Linux or Mac.

Free web-based Mantis Bug Tracker

Mantis Bug Tracker is a reporting tool designed to manage, record and control software bugs in the PHP programming language. The job of a software tester, which mainly focuses on finding bugs, is often used as the unpaid equivalent of the popular Jira tool. The open-source tool Mantis even allows you to run multiple projects at once, which you’ll undoubtedly appreciate when you have a large number of projects.

Finding bugs in software is crucial for developing good and safe software. A small mistake can lead to big losses and problems, especially for software that uses users’ personal data, enables financial transactions, or whose use with errors can seriously endanger a person’s health or even life.

Examples include software that controls an electric car or magnetic resonance imaging. Of course, such testing is carried out by an experienced tester with many years of professional experience. However, this does not change the fact that the IT tester position is very important for the development of any software.

If you are looking for a job as a software tester, take a look at the open job offers for IT tester jobs and work at msg life Slovakia, where, in addition to many attractive employee benefits, you will be able to take a free course to obtain the international ISTQB certificate, which will help you significantly as a tester at work.

About the author

Katarína Kučáková

Software Test Engineer

Moja cesta k testovaniu softvéru sa začala v roku 2019 až po štúdiu ekonómie a pracovných skúsenostiach v iných odvetviach. To mi pomohlo vnímať IT svet v rôznych súvislostiach. Ten totiž ponúka neustále nové výzvy, pre ktoré rada hľadám riešenia. Obľubujem oddych pri čítaní, turistiku alebo lyžovanie. LinkedIn

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