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Smoke Testing vs Regression Testing – Key Differences You Need to Know

Smoke Testing vs Regression Testing

For any software professional on a high-functioning team, knowing the key differences between smoke testing vs. regression testing is a must. If you’re looking to refine your understanding of smoke testing vs. regression testing and the key differences between the two, this quick guide is a great refresher for anyone at any stage of their career.

What is Smoke Testing?

Smoke testing includes a relatively small set of tests aimed toward ensuring the stability of the core functionality of a software project. It is typically performed with every new software build, whether the build contains any new features or purely bug fixes.

Since smoke testing is focused on just core functionality, it’s important to always keep in mind that more detailed testing is out of scope when it comes to smoke testing. Usually, detailed testing takes place as the next step, in the form of functional tests.

Failure of smoke tests usually results in treating the build as broken, and sending the update back to the software developers to resolve.

Smoke testing is sometimes referred to as build verification testing, since it is designed to reject broken builds early in the process – so further resources aren’t wasted on deeper testing.

What is Regression Testing?

On the other hand, regression is a thorough testing process to ensure that every feature in the software under test functions as per requirements. All of the regression tests passing indicates that the product is ready to be released to the end-users.

The code change that triggers the need for regression testing could be anything from bug fixes to new feature releases.

The main purpose of regression testing is to go beyond just testing the update itself, in order to confirm that other areas of the software project are not negatively affected by the recent changes.

Features in the software are usually tightly intertwined, so it’s not uncommon that even a relatively simple bug fix breaks something else that might seem completely unrelated. Thus regression testing is performed often (at least before every production release), and is usually very time-consuming when tested manually. It can take the whole QA team between a couple of days to multiple weeks.

Imagine a major bug is found towards the end of this testing process? First, this means that the developer will have to return to work they’ve already completed long ago (and likely already moved to a different task). Second, the regression testing will have to start from scratch afterward – to go over the same functionality yet again. You might get the idea why regression testing is usually the least enjoyable for QA people. It’s also not so hard to see why smoke and regression tests are typically the first candidates for automation.

Smoke Testing vs Regression Testing: The Basics

When it comes to articulating the difference between smoke testing and regression testing, you can start with the concept of general versus detailed.

While smoke testing aims to do a relatively quick, general check of core functionality, regression testing performs detailed verifications to ensure quality throughout the software project.

Smoke testing is on the smaller side compared to regression, so if these tests fail – it’s unwise to proceed further.

To sum it up, testing for any new build is usually done in this sequence:

Smoke (also known as build verification testing) > UI testing (If any new features were added) > Functional testing to verify new functionality (if needed) > Regression testing

The software developers can sometimes own the smoke testing process for teams where testing is done manually, while a QA team always owns the regression testing process. That said, many teams are now moving towards automation with tools like testRigor.

Automate Smoke Testing and Regression Testing with testRigor

There are too many advantages of automating these two types of testing to ignore. There aren’t any downsides, but there are a few things to consider. Let’s look into each of them.

First, it’s most cost-effective to automate features that are stable enough, and there are no plans to change them in the nearest future. For example, you likely don’t want to start building tests for a mobile application in case there’s a major UI redesign scheduled in a couple of months.

Once you have a stable product you want to automate testing for, it’s time to choose the right automation tool. Regardless of your software product, testRigor will likely be the best all-around choice due to its simplicity and broad coverage.

Once automated, the tests will start bringing significant benefits, saving hours or even days on every test run. Once automated, regular software project testing becomes far cheaper and less labor-intensive to perform. Additionally, by saving time and effort, the QA team will be able to spend more time on improving other areas of the software project.

Here’s the usual result of test automation:
  • QA testers are happy not to waste time on the same tedious and repetitive testing.
  • Developers are happy to get almost instant feedback and fix bugs while the relevant information is still fresh in their minds.
  • Product owners are happy to ship the software to the end-users sooner.
  • Business owners are happy to save money while increasing value.
  • Customers are happy to get consistently higher-quality software.

Whether your team is still manually doing your software testing, or if you’ve already got some experience with test automation, testRigor can really take your testing process to new heights with its cutting-edge AI technology. If you’re interested in seeing how testRigor can help deliver immediate and lasting improvements to your testing process, reach out to our friendly team of testing experts, and we’ll walk you through all of the aspects of the process.