What Is Smoke Testing, and When Is it Done?

May 6, 2023 | Best Practices

What Is a Smoke Test?

Smoke testing is one of the key phases of software development that can enable teams to catch the most problematic bugs early in the development cycle. Well-designed and executed smoke tests help engineering teams save time and money while mitigating crunch later on in development.

What Is a Smoke Test?

The main goal of a smoke test is to check basic functionality. A smoke test asks: When you execute your program, can it perform basic tasks as intended, or will it start smoking and catch fire?

Smoke testing should be performed early and often during software development in order to catch the most important, show-stopping bugs early on. By doing so, your team can save precious time later in development, when those bugs will be much more challenging to fix.

Early smoke testing will help save QA staff time as well. If the software can’t pass a smoke test, there’s no point in moving forward with further tests until it’s ready. If you start performing additional, more granular tests at this phase, you may be solving problems that don’t actually need to be fixed, or need to be fixed again after the larger root issues are addressed.

A Smoke Testing Example

Let’s say your team is working on a B2B sales software that tracks customer spending habits and information and also presents data reports to the user. A smoke test will see if you can perform the most basic tasks in the software, call up information, create a report, and make changes. Minor bugs and issues, including visual problems, slow loading, or occasional crashing under specific circumstances, can be caught by tests conducted later on.

Smoke Testing vs. Sanity Testing

Sanity testing is similar to smoke testing, except it happens later in the development cycle. Sanity tests are executed after the code has been updated to ensure that it is still working as desired and that the new updates are performing as expected. These tests may also be targeted toward bugs that were found during testing of previous builds.

Smoke Testing vs. Regression Testing

Smoke testing happens before regression testing, and it is generally performed by both developers and testers. Regression testing, on the other hand, is typically completed by testers and is a more comprehensive, resource-demanding testing phase. Ideally, regression testing is not completed as many times as smoke testing.

How to Perform a Smoke Test

One of the first things to keep in mind when designing a smoke test is the length of time required because you’re going to be performing a lot of smoke tests, especially in the early stages of development. It’s also a good idea to run a simple smoke test before committing your code to a repository, before starting an intensive run of other tests, and after your code has been deployed.

A smoke test should only take a few minutes to an hour to complete, or else you’ll be taking up too much time performing continuous tests. Lengthy test cycles may even lead developers to start skipping occasional smoke tests, compounding the work that needs to be done later on. That’s why smoke tests should be broad but shallow. They should at least touch every software module without conducting a thorough and comprehensive test of each. A smoke test may contain around 25–50 individual tests, depending on the software being tested.

Smoke testing is especially easy to execute and time-effective if you are using automated testing software. Manual testing is possible, but it can end up sapping away precious time from the developers, especially with the number of times you’ll likely be executing smoke tests. The most cost-effective option for your team will likely be to invest in high-quality testing software, in which smoke tests can be easily designed and executed.

Smoke Test Software

Using effective testing software can make automated smoke testing an easy task for even less experienced QA staff to perform. Ranorex software enables developers to quickly create and execute smoke tests, sanity tests, and additional regression tests.

Developers can build tests in a variety of programming languages using DesignWise either by writing code or using Gherkin syntax. DesignWise can also help developers dial in the depth and number of the individual tests they run to prevent wasteful testing and lost time.

Tests can be moved to Ranorex Studio, where they can be executed within a matter of minutes and with detailed test reports. Ranorex can work with a wide range of platforms, and perform tests on desktop, mobile, and emulated devices. Companies have reported that Ranorex software helped them increase product and revenue by at least 40%.

Automated Smoke Testing Tools

Ranorex offers a number of user-friendly tools that are designed to make testing much easier and faster. The Ranorex recorder enables experienced testers to document each step that goes into executing a test so that a less experienced member of the staff can execute the same tests on future builds. Since smoke testing should be performed many times over in the early stages of development, the Ranorex recorder can help save significant time.

Ranorex Studio

  • Data-Driven Testing
  • Keyword-Driven Testing
  • Regression Testing
  • Robotic Process Automation
  • Browser Automation
  • Selenium
  • Automated Testing Tools
  • Functional Testing
  • Black Box Testing
  • Cross-Browser Testing

Start a Free Trial of Ranorex Studio

Ready to start testing your software? Start a free trial of Ranorex Studio to see how much time you can save with automated smoke testing.

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