In the realm of software testing, alpha is the first level of testing, preceding beta. Testing may be performed by the developers themselves or by dedicated teams but is restricted internally to the company's employees. Software that is in the alpha testing phase is usually very early in the development phase. Consequently, it may lack features, have quite critical bugs, and is very unsuitable for production.
Alpha testers, being developers or QA engineers employed by the company, can take a white-box approach to the test by seeing the code work its way through the inputs to the output. This visibility is something to which beta testers do not have access.
What are the main expectations from alpha testing?
- The main goal of alpha testing is to identify problems and fix them very quickly. Since experienced testers and developers generally perform alpha tests, the turnaround time for bugs identified in this phase is very short.
- Alpha testers, being more experienced, can also uncover a more significant number of edge cases that beta testers might not log. This testing helps prevent edge cases from causing failures after the software is released.
- Alpha tests also ensure that the beta testers get a relatively polished version of the product. Their experience with the software is much smoother while also reducing the chances of minor issues reported by the larger group of beta testers.