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Smart Cards Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is Microsoft’s smart card strategy?

2. Who is in the PC/SC Workgroup?

3. What has the PC/SC Workgroup provided? And when will it be available?

4. Are the OpenCard and JavaCard API announcements from the NC alliance competing with the PC/SC Workgroup?

5. Will these deliverables be made cross-platform?

6. When you say Windows components and tools, does this mean both 16 and 32-bit Windows?

7. Does Microsoft plan to support smart cards for Internet authentication and secure E-mail?

8. How does smart card logon work in Windows NT 5?

9. Will Microsoft support smart card logon on other platforms ?

10. Will Microsoft's smart card implementation work with the Java Card ?

11. How does the Microsoft Smart Card APIs compare with PKCS#11?

What is Microsoft’s smart card strategy?

Microsoft will ensure that the Microsoft® Windows® platform is smart card enabled for future electronic commerce and network security applications. This will allow smart card hardware and software vendors to develop products based on standard APIs and tools.

Microsoft’s initial implementation is focused on interoperability between cards, readers, and PCs. This will lead to a lower cost of deployment and maintenance of smart card solutions compared with non-PC based systems today. It will be easy and cost-effective for customers to take advantage of smart cards as part of a comprehensive security solution for the enterprise and the Internet.

Who is in the PC/SC Workgroup?

The Workgroup consists of leading PC and smart card companies including Bull CP8, Gemplus, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Schlumberger, Siemens Nixdorf, Sun Microsystems, Toshiba, and Verifone.

What has the PC/SC Workgroup provided? And when will it be available?

The PC/SC Workgroup facilitated the development of smart card based applications for the PC by developing open specifications that ensure interoperability among smart cards, smart card readers, and computers made by different manufacturers. The group, which has been working together since May 1996, has published the specifications at Microsoft delivered a reference implementation for the Windows platform in the last quarter of 1997.

Specifically, the technology developed by the PC/SC Workgroup includes:

· A high-level applications interface to make it easier to build and maintain smart card applications

· Programming interfaces (that is, device drivers) for smart card reader peripherals connected to a PC

· Specifications for cryptographic functionality and secure storage to be provided by the smart card

Microsoft has implemented these specifications for the 32 bit Windows platforms.

Are the OpenCard and JavaCard API announcements from the NC alliance competing with the PC/SC Workgroup?

The JavaCard API announcement is complementary to the efforts of the PC/SC Workgroup, because it addresses the issue of how to rapidly deploy applications that run inside smart cards. The PC/SC Workgroup specifications are Java™-friendly at both the card and application levels. The JavaCard API announcement is not documenting new APIs to enable developers to integrate smart cards with PCs; it is documenting a subset of Java APIs for developing applications that will run on smart card hardware only. To have customer value, these applications will need to communicate with devices such as PCs through the readers, making the PC/SC Workgroup efforts very important and complementary to the JavaCard API announcement. Microsoft will be investigating how its technology and tools can add value to these efforts.

At the present time, there is not enough information about OpenCard to determine compatibility with PC/SC because the NC alliance has yet to release any specifications. The OpenCard has announced that their specifications will be compatible with the PC/SC specifications.

Will these deliverables be made cross-platform?

Using the specifications developed by the PC/SC Workgroup, reader OEMs can deliver smart card readers for any platform, and all operating systems vendors are encouraged to integrate support into their products. However, full integration with other platforms will require support from appropriate OS vendors. Microsoft has delivered the implementation for the 32 bit Windows platforms.

When you say Windows components and tools, does this mean both 16 and 32-bit Windows?

At this time, these components and tools will be for 32-bit Windows only. Microsoft will evaluate support for 16-bit Windows based on customer demand.

Does Microsoft plan to support smart cards for Internet authentication and secure E-mail?

Yes. Internet Explorer 4.0 and Outlook Express 4.0 and Outlook 98 fully support the use of smart cards for user authentication and secure S/MIME email today. This works with any smart card that supports RSA cryptographic operations and has a Cryptographic Service Provider (CSP). Readers and cards are available from the leading vendors that support IE and OE. (

How does Smart Card log on work in Windows NT 5?

Windows NT 5 uses the PKINIT protocol for public key authentication (It is an extension to Kerberos v5 and is an IETF draft). This allows an authorized user to use a certificate (and associated private key) to insert their card in a reader, authenticate to the card and use the certificate/private key to authenticate to the Windows NT domain. Once the user is authenticated they get a Kerberos ticket and can use that ticket to access resources in the domain.

Will Microsoft support Smart Card login on other platforms ?

Smart Card login will only be supported on the Windows NT 5 platform.

Will Microsoft's Smart Card implementation work with the Java Card ?

Microsoft's smart card implementation is completely agnostic to the operating system on the card itself. It is designed to accommodate any card OS. Therefore it will work with the Java Card (or any other card) with the appropriate card service provider installed.

How does the Microsoft Smart Card APIs compare with PKCS#11?

The PC/SC specifications that have been implemented by Microsoft offer a more complete and full architecture that meets the broad goals of full interoperability . On the other hand, PKCS-11 is just an API and not an architecture. It is very narrow and not interoperable among different vendors.

· PKCS-11 fails to separate reader interfaces from hardware token interfaces. What this means is it doesn't provide a basis for allowing readers and smart cards from different vendors to interoperate.

· PKCS-11 is only an API spec, and doesn't define how one would support multiple devices in a system. It also does not define an exportable architecture.(Per US Govt. laws) The announced solution only works because they have restricted functionality to user authentication services, as opposed to full crypto services supported by CryptoAPI.

· PKCS-11 deals with slots and tokens. This corresponds almost exactly to the PC/SC concepts of readers and cards. However, PKCS-11 has a very fixed set of services that a token is allowed to perform (Data Storage, Certificate Storage, and Crypto Key operations), and a very rigid security model. The PC/SC model allows for unlimited functionality extensions through the use of service providers.

· Since there is no layered architecture, each vendor supporting PKCS-11 must provide a complete, and independent, library for accessing their hardware. There are absolutely no rules for how these libraries are registered (so that an app can select the one they want) and no rules for allocating 'slots'.

· PC/SC allows the selection of cards by capability. There is no such concept in PKCS-11.

· PKCS-11 does not support multiple applications accessing a single token simultaneously, and does not provide transaction or locking semantics. The PC/SC architecture does.

Glossary and Technical FAQs

Q1. What is verification?
A: Verification ensures the product is designed to deliver all functionality to the customer; it typically involves reviews and meetings to evaluate documents, plans, code, requirements and specifications; this can be done with checklists, issues lists, walkthroughs and inspection meetings.

Q2. What is validation?
A: Validation ensures that functionality, as defined in requirements, is the intended behavior of the product; validation typically involves actual testing and takes place after verifications are completed.

Q3. What is a walk-through?
A: A walk-through is an informal meeting for evaluation or informational purposes.

Q4. What is an inspection?
A: An inspection is a formal meeting, more formalized than a walk-through and typically consists of 3-10 people including a moderator, reader (the author of whatever is being reviewed) and a recorder (to make notes in the document). The subject of the inspection is typically a document, such as a requirements document or a test plan. The purpose of an inspection is to find problems and see what is missing, not to fix anything. The result of the meeting should be documented in a written report. Attendees should prepare for this type of meeting by reading through the document, before the meeting starts; most problems are found during this preparation. Preparation for inspections is difficult, but is one of the most cost-effective methods of ensuring quality, since bug prevention is more cost effective than bug detection.

Q5. What is quality?
A: Quality software is software that is reasonably bug-free, delivered on time and within budget, meets requirements and expectations and is maintainable. However, quality is a subjective term. Quality depends on who the customer is and their overall influence in the scheme of things. Customers of a software development project include end-users, customer acceptance test engineers, testers, customer contract officers, customer management, the development organization's management, test engineers, testers, salespeople, software engineers, stockholders and accountants. Each type of customer will have his or her own slant on quality. The accounting department might define quality in terms of profits, while an end-user might define quality as user friendly and bug free.

Q6. What is good code?
A: A good code is code that works, is free of bugs and is readable and maintainable. Organizations usually have coding standards all developers should adhere to, but every programmer and software engineer has different ideas about what is best and what are too many or too few rules. We need to keep in mind that excessive use of rules can stifle both productivity and creativity. Peer reviews and code analysis tools can be used to check for problems and enforce standards.

Q7. What is good design?
A: Design could mean to many things, but often refers to functional design or internal design. Good functional design is indicated by software functionality can be traced back to customer and end-user requirements. Good internal design is indicated by software code whose overall structure is clear, understandable, easily modifiable and maintainable; is robust with sufficient error handling and status logging capability; and works correctly when implemented.

Q8. What is software life cycle?
A: Software life cycle begins when a software product is first conceived and ends when it is no longer in use. It includes phases like initial concept, requirements analysis, functional design, internal design, documentation planning, test planning, coding, document preparation, integration, testing, maintenance, updates, re-testing and phase-out.

Q9. Why are there so many software bugs?
A: Generally speaking, there are bugs in software because of unclear requirements, software complexity, programming errors, changes in requirements, errors made in bug tracking, time pressure, poorly documented code and/or bugs in tools used in software development.

· There are unclear software requirements because there is miscommunication as to what the software should or shouldn't do.

· Software complexity. All of the followings contribute to the exponential growth in software and system complexity: Windows interfaces, client-server and distributed applications, data communications, enormous relational databases and the sheer size of applications.

· Programming errors occur because programmers and software engineers, like everyone else, can make mistakes.

· As to changing requirements, in some fast-changing business environments, continuously modified requirements are a fact of life. Sometimes customers do not understand the effects of changes, or understand them but request them anyway. And the changes require redesign of the software, rescheduling of resources and some of the work already completed have to be redone or discarded and hardware requirements can be effected, too.

· Bug tracking can result in errors because the complexity of keeping track of changes can result in errors, too.

· Time pressures can cause problems, because scheduling of software projects is not easy and it often requires a lot of guesswork and when deadlines loom and the crunch comes, mistakes will be made.

· Code documentation is tough to maintain and it is also tough to modify code that is poorly documented. The result is bugs. Sometimes there is no incentive for programmers and software engineers to document their code and write clearly documented, understandable code. Sometimes developers get kudos for quickly turning out code, or programmers and software engineers feel they have job security if everyone can understand the code they write, or they believe if the code was hard to write, it should be hard to read.

· Software development tools , including visual tools, class libraries, compilers, scripting tools, can introduce their own bugs. Other times the tools are poorly documented, which can create additional bugs.

Q10. How do you introduce a new software QA process?
A: It depends on the size of the organization and the risks involved. For large organizations with high-risk projects, a serious management buy-in is required and a formalized QA process is necessary. For medium size organizations with lower risk projects, management and organizational buy-in and a slower, step-by-step process is required. Generally speaking, QA processes should be balanced with productivity, in order to keep any bureaucracy from getting out of hand. For smaller groups or projects, an ad-hoc process is more appropriate. A lot depends on team leads and managers, feedback to developers and good communication is essential among customers, managers, developers, test engineers and testers. Regardless the size of the company, the greatest value for effort is in managing requirement processes, where the goal is requirements that are clear, complete and

Q11. Give me five common problems that occur during software development.
A: Poorly written requirements, unrealistic schedules, inadequate testing, adding new features after development is underway and poor communication.

1. Requirements are poorly written when requirements are unclear, incomplete, too general, or not testable; therefore there will be problems.

2. The schedule is unrealistic if too much work is crammed in too little time.

3. Software testing is inadequate if none knows whether or not the software is any good until customers complain or the system crashes.

4. It's extremely common that new features are added after development is underway.

5. Miscommunication either means the developers don't know what is needed, or customers have unrealistic expectations and therefore problems are guaranteed.

Q12. Give me five solutions to problems that occur during software development.
A: Solid requirements, realistic schedules, adequate testing, firm requirements and good communication.

1. Ensure the requirements are solid, clear, complete, detailed, cohesive, attainable and testable. All players should agree to requirements. Use prototypes to help nail down requirements.

2. Have schedules that are realistic. Allow adequate time for planning, design, testing, bug fixing, re-testing, changes and documentation. Personnel should be able to complete the project without burning out.

3. Do testing that is adequate. Start testing early on, re-test after fixes or changes, and plan for sufficient time for both testing and bug fixing.

4. Avoid new features. Stick to initial requirements as much as possible. Be prepared to defend design against changes and additions, once development has begun and be prepared to explain consequences. If changes are necessary, ensure they're adequately reflected in related schedule changes. Use prototypes early on so customers' expectations are clarified and customers can see what to expect; this will minimize changes later on.

5. Communicate. Require walk-throughs and inspections when appropriate; make extensive use of e-mail, networked bug-tracking tools, tools of change management. Ensure documentation is available and up-to-date. Use documentation that is electronic, not paper. Promote teamwork and cooperation.

Q13. Do automated testing tools make testing easier?
A: Yes and no. For larger projects, or ongoing long-term projects, they can be valuable. But for small projects, the time needed to learn and implement them is usually not worthwhile. A common type of automated tool is the record/playback type. For example, a test engineer clicks through all combinations of menu choices, dialog box choices, buttons, etc. in a GUI and has an automated testing tool record and log the results. The recording is typically in the form of text, based on a scripting language that the testing tool can interpret. If a change is made (e.g. new buttons are added, or some underlying code in the application is changed), the application is then re-tested by just playing back the recorded actions and compared to the logged results in order to check effects of the change. One problem with such tools is that if there are continual changes to the product being tested, the recordings have to be changed so often that it becomes a very time-consuming task to continuously update the scripts. Another problem with such tools is the interpretation of the results (screens, data, logs, etc.) that can be a time-consuming task.

Q14. What makes a good test engineer?
A: Rob Davis is a good test engineer because he

· Has a "test to break" attitude,

· Takes the point of view of the customer,

· Has a strong desire for quality,

· Has an attention to detail, He's also

· Tactful and diplomatic and

· Has good a communication skill, both oral and written. And he

· Has previous software development experience, too.

Good test engineers have a "test to break" attitude, they take the point of view of the customer, have a strong desire for quality and an attention to detail. Tact and diplomacy are useful in maintaining a cooperative relationship with developers and an ability to communicate with both technical and non-technical people. Previous software development experience is also helpful as it provides a deeper understanding of the software development process, gives the test engineer an appreciation for the developers' point of view and reduces the learning curve in automated test tool programming.

Q15. What makes a good QA engineer?
A: The same qualities a good test engineer has are useful for a QA engineer. Additionally, Rob Davis understands the entire software development process and how it fits into the business approach and the goals of the organization. Rob Davis' communication skills and the ability to understand various sides of issues are important.
Good QA engineers understand the entire software development process and how it fits into the business approach and the goals of the organization. Communication skills and the ability to understand various sides of issues are important.

Q16. What makes a good resume?
A: On the subject of resumes, there seems to be an unending discussion of whether you should or shouldn't have a one-page resume. The followings are some of the comments I have personally heard: "Well, Joe Blow (car salesman) said I should have a one-page resume." "Well, I read a book and it said you should have a one page resume." "I can't really go into what I really did because if I did, it'd take more than one page on my resume." "Gosh, I wish I could put my job at IBM on my resume but if I did it'd make my resume more than one page, and I was told to never make the resume more than one page long." "I'm confused, should my resume be more than one page? I feel like it should, but I don't want to break the rules." Or, here's another comment, "People just don't read resumes that are longer than one page." I have heard some more, but we can start with these. So what's the answer? There is no scientific answer about whether a one-page resume is right or wrong. It all depends on who you are and how much experience you have. The first thing to look at here is the purpose of a resume. The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. If the resume is getting you interviews, then it is considered to be a good resume. If the resume isn't getting you interviews, then you should change it. The biggest mistake you can make on your resume is to make it hard to read. Why? Because, for one, scanners don't like odd resumes. Small fonts can make your resume harder to read. Some candidates use a 7-point font so they can get the resume onto one page. Big mistake. Two, resume readers do not like eye strain either. If the resume is mechanically challenging, they just throw it aside for one that is easier on the eyes. Three, there are lots of resumes out there these days, and that is also part of the problem. Four, in light of the current scanning scenario, more than one page is not a deterrent because many will scan your resume into their database. Once the resume is in there and searchable, you have accomplished one of the goals of resume distribution. Five, resume readers don't like to guess and most won't call you to clarify what is on your resume. Generally speaking, your resume should tell your story. If you're a college graduate looking for your first job, a one-page resume is just fine. If you have a longer story, the resume needs to be longer. Please put your experience on the resume so resume readers can tell when and for whom you did what. Short resumes -- for people long on experience -- are not appropriate. The real audience for these short resumes is people with short attention spans and low IQs. I assure you that when your resume gets into the right hands, it will be read thoroughly.

Q17. What makes a good QA/Test Manager?
A: QA/Test Managers are familiar with the software development process; able to maintain enthusiasm of their team and promote a positive atmosphere; able to promote teamwork to increase productivity; able to promote cooperation between Software and Test/QA Engineers, have the people skills needed to promote improvements in QA processes, have the ability to withstand pressures and say *no* to other managers when quality is insufficient or QA processes are not being adhered to; able to communicate with technical and non-technical people; as well as able to run meetings and keep them focused.

Q18. What is the role of documentation in QA?
A: Documentation plays a critical role in QA. QA practices should be documented, so that they are repeatable. Specifications, designs, business rules, inspection reports, configurations, code changes, test plans, test cases, bug reports, user manuals should all be documented. Ideally, there should be a system for easily finding and obtaining of documents and determining what document will have a particular piece of information. Use documentation change management, if possible.

Q19. What about requirements?
A: Requirement specifications are important and one of the most reliable methods of insuring problems in a complex software project is to have poorly documented requirement specifications. Requirements are the details describing an application's externally perceived functionality and properties. Requirements should be clear, complete, reasonably detailed, cohesive, attainable and testable. A non-testable requirement would be, for example, "user-friendly", which is too subjective. A testable requirement would be something such as, "the product shall allow the user to enter their previously-assigned password to access the application". Care should be taken to involve all of a project's significant customers in the requirements process. Customers could be in-house or external and could include end-users, customer acceptance test engineers, testers, customer contract officers, customer management, future software maintenance engineers, salespeople and anyone who could later derail the project. If his/her expectations aren't met, they should be included as a customer, if possible. In some organizations, requirements may end up in high-level project plans, functional specification documents, design documents, or other documents at various levels of detail. No matter what they are called, some type of documentation with detailed requirements will be needed by test engineers in order to properly plan and execute tests. Without such documentation there will be no clear-cut way to determine if a software application is performing correctly.

Q20. What is a test plan?
A: A software project test plan is a document that describes the objectives, scope, approach and focus of a software testing effort. The process of preparing a test plan is a useful way to think through the efforts needed to validate the acceptability of a software product. The completed document will help people outside the test group understand the why and how of product validation. It should be thorough enough to be useful, but not so thorough that none outside the test group will be able to read it.

Q21. What is a test case?
A: A test case is a document that describes an input, action, or event and its expected result, in order to determine if a feature of an application is working correctly. A test case should contain particulars such as a...

· Test case identifier;

· Test case name;

· Objective;

· Test conditions/setup;

· Input data requirements/steps, and

· Expected results.

Please note, the process of developing test cases can help find problems in the requirements or design of an application, since it requires you to completely think through the operation of the application. For this reason, it is useful to prepare test cases early in the development cycle, if possible.

Q22. What should be done after a bug is found?
A: When a bug is found, it needs to be communicated and assigned to developers that can fix it. After the problem is resolved, fixes should be re-tested. Additionally, determinations should be made regarding requirements, software, hardware, safety impact, etc., for regression testing to check the fixes didn't create other problems elsewhere. If a problem-tracking system is in place, it should encapsulate these determinations. A variety of commercial, problem-tracking/management software tools are available. These tools, with the detailed input of software test engineers, will give the team complete information so developers can understand the bug, get an idea of its severity, reproduce it and fix it.

Q23. What is configuration management?
A: Configuration management (CM) covers the tools and processes used to control, coordinate and track code, requirements, documentation, problems, change requests, designs, tools, compilers, libraries, patches, changes made to them and who makes the changes. Rob Davis has had experience with a full range of CM tools and concepts. Rob Davis can easily adapt to your software tool and process needs.

Q24. What if the software is so buggy it can't be tested at all?
A: In this situation the best bet is to have test engineers go through the process of reporting whatever bugs or problems initially show up, with the focus being on critical bugs. Since this type of problem can severely affect schedules and indicates deeper problems in the software development process, such as insufficient unit testing, insufficient integration testing, poor design, improper build or release procedures, managers should be notified and provided with some documentation as evidence of the problem.

Q25. How do you know when to stop testing?
A: This can be difficult to determine. Many modern software applications are so complex and run in such an interdependent environment, that complete testing can never be done. Common factors in deciding when to stop are...

· Deadlines, e.g. release deadlines, testing deadlines;

· Test cases completed with certain percentage passed;

· Test budget has been depleted;

· Coverage of code, functionality, or requirements reaches a specified point;

· Bug rate falls below a certain level; or

· Beta or alpha testing period ends.

Q26. What if there isn't enough time for thorough testing?
A: Since it's rarely possible to test every possible aspect of an application, every possible combination of events, every dependency, or everything that could go wrong, risk analysis is appropriate to most software development projects. Use risk analysis to determine where testing should be focused. This requires judgment skills, common sense and experience. The checklist should include answers to the following questions:

· Which functionality is most important to the project's intended purpose?

· Which functionality is most visible to the user?

· Which functionality has the largest safety impact?

· Which functionality has the largest financial impact on users?

· Which aspects of the application are most important to the customer?

· Which aspects of the application can be tested early in the development cycle?

· Which parts of the code are most complex and thus most subject to errors?

· Which parts of the application were developed in rush or panic mode?

· Which aspects of similar/related previous projects caused problems?

· Which aspects of similar/related previous projects had large maintenance expenses?

· Which parts of the requirements and design are unclear or poorly thought out?

· What do the developers think are the highest-risk aspects of the application?

· What kinds of problems would cause the worst publicity?

· What kinds of problems would cause the most customer service complaints?

· What kinds of tests could easily cover multiple functionalities?

· Which tests will have the best high-risk-coverage to time-required ratio?

Q27. What if the project isn't big enough to justify extensive testing?
A: Consider the impact of project errors, not the size of the project. However, if extensive testing is still not justified, risk analysis is again needed and the considerations listed under "What if there isn't enough time for thorough testing?" do apply. The test engineer then should do "ad hoc" testing, or write up a limited test plan based on the risk analysis.

Q28. What can be done if requirements are changing continuously?
A: Work with management early on to understand how requirements might change, so that alternate test plans and strategies can be worked out in advance. It is helpful if the application's initial design allows for some adaptability, so that later changes do not require redoing the application from scratch. Additionally, try to...

· Ensure the code is well commented and well documented; this makes changes easier for the developers.

· Use rapid prototyping whenever possible; this will help customers feel sure of their requirements and minimize changes.

· In the project's initial schedule, allow for some extra time to commensurate with probable changes.

· Move new requirements to a 'Phase 2' version of an application and use the original requirements for the 'Phase 1' version.

· Negotiate to allow only easily implemented new requirements into the project; move more difficult, new requirements into future versions of the application.

· Ensure customers and management understand scheduling impacts, inherent risks and costs of significant requirements changes. Then let management or the customers decide if the changes are warranted; after all, that's their job.

· Balance the effort put into setting up automated testing with the expected effort required to redo them to deal with changes.

· Design some flexibility into automated test scripts;

· Focus initial automated testing on application aspects that are most likely to remain unchanged;

· Devote appropriate effort to risk analysis of changes, in order to minimize regression-testing needs;

· Design some flexibility into test cases; this is not easily done; the best bet is to minimize the detail in the test cases, or set up only higher-level generic-type test plans;

· Focus less on detailed test plans and test cases and more on ad-hoc testing with an understanding of the added risk this entails.

Q29. What if the application has functionality that wasn't in the requirements?
A: It may take serious effort to determine if an application has significant unexpected or hidden functionality, which it would indicate deeper problems in the software development process. If the functionality isn't necessary to the purpose of the application, it should be removed, as it may have unknown impacts or dependencies that were not taken into account by the designer or the customer.
If not removed, design information will be needed to determine added testing needs or regression testing needs. Management should be made aware of any significant added risks as a result of the unexpected functionality. If the functionality only affects areas, such as minor improvements in the user interface, it may not be a significant risk.

Q30. How can software QA processes be implemented without stifling productivity?
A: Implement QA processes slowly over time. Use consensus to reach agreement on processes and adjust and experiment as an organization grows and matures. Productivity will be improved instead of stifled. Problem prevention will lessen the need for problem detection. Panics and burnout will decrease and there will be improved focus and less wasted effort. At the same time, attempts should be made to keep processes simple and efficient, minimize paperwork, promote computer-based processes and automated tracking and reporting, minimize time required in meetings and promote training as part of the QA process. However, no one, especially talented technical types, like bureaucracy and in the short run things may slow down a bit. A typical scenario would be that more days of planning and development will be needed, but less time will be required for late-night bug fixing and calming of irate customers.

Q31. What if organization is growing so fast that fixed QA processes are impossible?
A: This is a common problem in the software industry, especially in new technology areas. There is no easy solution in this situation, other than...

· Hire good people (i.e. hire Rob Davis)

· Ruthlessly prioritize quality issues and maintain focus on the customer;

· Everyone in the organization should be clear on what quality means to the customer.

Q32. How is testing affected by object-oriented designs?
A: A well-engineered object-oriented design can make it easier to trace from code to internal design to functional design to requirements. While there will be little affect on black box testing (where an understanding of the internal design of the application is unnecessary), white-box testing can be oriented to the application's objects. If the application was well designed this can simplify test design.

Q33. Why do you recommended that we test during the design phase?
A: Because testing during the design phase can prevent defects later on. We recommend verifying three things...

1. Verify the design is good, efficient, compact, testable and maintainable.

2. Verify the design meets the requirements and is complete (specifies all relationships between modules, how to pass data, what happens in exceptional circumstances, starting state of each module and how to guarantee the state of each module).

3. Verify the design incorporates enough memory, I/O devices and quick enough runtime for the final product.

Q34. What is software quality assurance?
A: Software Quality Assurance (SWQA) when Rob Davis does it is oriented to *prevention*. It involves the entire software development process. Prevention is monitoring and improving the process, making sure any agreed-upon standards and procedures are followed and ensuring problems are found and dealt with. Software Testing, when performed by Rob Davis, is also oriented to *detection*. Testing involves the operation of a system or application under controlled conditions and evaluating the results. Organizations vary considerably in how they assign responsibility for QA and testing. Sometimes they are the combined responsibility of one group or individual. Also common are project teams, which include a mix of test engineers, testers and developers who work closely together, with overall QA processes monitored by project managers. It depends on what best fits your organization's size and business structure. Rob Davis can provide QA and/or SWQA. This document details some aspects of how he can provide software testing/QA service. For more information, e-mail

Q35. What is quality assurance?
A: Quality Assurance ensures all parties concerned with the project adhere to the process and procedures, standards and templates and test readiness reviews.
Rob Davis' QA service depends on the customers and projects. A lot will depend on team leads or managers, feedback to developers and communications among customers, managers, developers' test engineers and testers.

Q36. Process and procedures - why follow them?
A: Detailed and well-written processes and procedures ensure the correct steps are being executed to facilitate a successful completion of a task. They also ensure a process is repeatable. Once Rob Davis has learned and reviewed customer's business processes and procedures, he will follow them. He will also recommend improvements and/or additions.

Q37. Standards and templates - what is supposed to be in a document?
A: All documents should be written to a certain standard and template. Standards and templates maintain document uniformity. It also helps in learning where information is located, making it easier for a user to find what they want. Lastly, with standards and templates, information will not be accidentally omitted from a document. Once Rob Davis has learned and reviewed your standards and templates, he will use them. He will also recommend improvements and/or additions.

Q38. What are the different levels of testing?
A: Rob Davis has expertise in testing at all testing levels listed below. At each test level, he documents the results. Each level of testing is either considered black or white box testing.

Q39. What is black box testing?
A: Black box testing is functional testing, not based on any knowledge of internal software design or code. Black box testing are based on requirements and functionality.

Q40. What is white box testing?
A: White box testing is based on knowledge of the internal logic of an application's code. Tests are based on coverage of code statements, branches, paths and conditions.

Q41. What is unit testing?
A: Unit testing is the first level of dynamic testing and is first the responsibility of developers and then that of the test engineers. Unit testing is performed after the expected test results are met or differences are explainable/acceptable.

Q42. What is parallel/audit testing?
A: Parallel/audit testing is testing where the user reconciles the output of the new system to the output of the current system to verify the new system performs the operations correctly.

Q43. What is functional testing?
A: Functional testing is black-box type of testing geared to functional requirements of an application. Test engineers *should* perform functional testing.

Q44. What is usability testing?
A: Usability testing is testing for 'user-friendliness'. Clearly this is subjective and depends on the targeted end-user or customer. User interviews, surveys, video recording of user sessions and other techniques can be used. Programmers and developers are usually not appropriate as usability testers.

Q45. What is incremental integration testing?
A: Incremental integration testing is continuous testing of an application as new functionality is recommended. This may require that various aspects of an application's functionality are independent enough to work separately, before all parts of the program are completed, or that test drivers are developed as needed. This type of testing may be performed by programmers, software engineers, or test engineers.

Q46. What is integration testing?
A: Upon completion of unit testing, integration testing begins. Integration testing is black box testing. The purpose of integration testing is to ensure distinct components of the application still work in accordance to customer requirements. Test cases are developed with the express purpose of exercising the interfaces between the components. This activity is carried out by the test team.
Integration testing is considered complete, when actual results and expected results are either in line or differences are explainable/acceptable based on client input.

Q47. What is system testing?
A: System testing is black box testing, performed by the Test Team, and at the start of the system testing the complete system is configured in a controlled environment. The purpose of system testing is to validate an application's accuracy and completeness in performing the functions as designed. System testing simulates real life scenarios that occur in a "simulated real life" test environment and test all functions of the system that are required in real life. System testing is deemed complete when actual results and expected results are either in line or differences are explainable or acceptable, based on client input.
Upon completion of integration testing, system testing is started. Before system testing, all unit and integration test results are reviewed by SWQA to ensure all problems have been resolved. For a higher level of testing it is important to understand unresolved problems that originate at unit and integration test levels.

Q48. What is end-to-end testing?
A: Similar to system testing, the *macro* end of the test scale is testing a complete application in a situation that mimics real world use, such as interacting with a database, using network communication, or interacting with other hardware, application, or system.

Q49. What is regression testing?
A: The objective of regression testing is to ensure the software remains intact. A baseline set of data and scripts is maintained and executed to verify changes introduced during the release have not "undone" any previous code. Expected results from the baseline are compared to results of the software under test. All discrepancies are highlighted and accounted for, before testing proceeds to the next level.

Q50. What is sanity testing?
A: Sanity testing is performed whenever cursory testing is sufficient to prove the application is functioning according to specifications. This level of testing is a subset of regression testing. It normally includes a set of core tests of basic GUI functionality to demonstrate connectivity to the database, application servers, printers, etc.

Q51. What is performance testing?
A: Although performance testing is described as a part of system testing, it can be regarded as a distinct level of testing. Performance testing verifies loads, volumes and response times, as defined by requirements.

Q52. What is load testing?
A: Load testing is testing an application under heavy loads, such as the testing of a web site under a range of loads to determine at what point the system response time will degrade or fail.

Q53. What is installation testing?
A: Installation testing is testing full, partial, upgrade, or install/un-install processes. The installation test for a release is conducted with the objective of demonstrating production readiness. This test includes the inventory of configuration items, performed by the application's System Administration, the evaluation of data readiness, and dynamic tests focused on basic system functionality. When necessary, a sanity test is performed, following installation testing.

Q54. What is security/penetration testing?
A: Security/penetration testing is testing how well the system is protected against unauthorized internal or external access, or willful damage. This type of testing usually requires sophisticated testing techniques.

Q55. What is recovery/error testing?
A: Recovery/error testing is testing how well a system recovers from crashes, hardware failures, or other catastrophic problems.

Q56. What is compatibility testing?
A: Compatibility testing is testing how well software performs in a particular hardware, software, operating system, or network environment.

Q57. What is comparison testing?
A: Comparison testing is testing that compares software weaknesses and strengths to those of competitors' products.

Q58. What is acceptance testing?
A: Acceptance testing is black box testing that gives the client/customer/project manager the opportunity to verify the system functionality and usability prior to the system being released to production. The acceptance test is the responsibility of the client/customer or project manager, however, it is conducted with the full support of the project team. The test team also works with the client/customer/project manager to develop the acceptance criteria. Q59. What is alpha testing?
A: Alpha testing is testing of an application when development is nearing completion. Minor design changes can still be made as a result of alpha testing. Alpha testing is typically performed by end-users or others, not programmers, software engineers, or test engineers.

Q60. What is beta testing?
A: Beta testing is testing an application when development and testing are essentially completed and final bugs and problems need to be found before the final release. Beta testing is typically performed by end-users or others, not programmers, software engineers, or test engineers.

Q61. What testing roles are standard on most testing projects?
A: Depending on the organization, the following roles are more or less standard on most testing projects: Testers, Test Engineers, Test/QA Team Lead, Test/QA Manager, System Administrator, Database Administrator, Technical Analyst, Test Build Manager and Test Configuration Manager. Depending on the project, one person may wear more than one hat. For instance, Test Engineers may also wear the hat of Technical Analyst, Test Build Manager and Test Configuration Manager.

Q62. What is a Test/QA Team Lead?
A: The Test/QA Team Lead coordinates the testing activity, communicates testing status to management and manages the test team.

Q63. What is a Test Engineer?
A: Test Engineers are engineers who specialize in testing. They create test cases, procedures, scripts and generate data. They execute test procedures and scripts, analyze standards of measurements, evaluate results of system/integration/regression testing. They also...

· Speed up the work of your development staff;

· Reduce your risk of legal liability;

· Give you the evidence that your software is correct and operates properly;

· Improve problem tracking and reporting;

· Maximize the value of your software;

· Maximize the value of the devices that use it;

· Assure the successful launch of your product by discovering bugs and design flaws, before users get discouraged, before shareholders loose their cool and before employees get bogged down;

· Help the work of your development staff, so the development team can devote its time to build up your product;

· Promote continual improvement;

· Provide documentation required by FDA, FAA, other regulatory agencies and your customers;

· Save money by discovering defects 'early' in the design process, before failures occur in production, or in the field;

· Save the reputation of your company by discovering bugs and design flaws; before bugs and design flaws damage the reputation of your company.

Q64. What is a Test Build Manager?
A: Test Build Managers deliver current software versions to the test environment, install the application's software and apply software patches, to both the application and the operating system, set-up, maintain and back up test environment hardware. Depending on the project, one person may wear more than one hat. For instance, a Test Engineer may also wear the hat of a Test Build Manager.

Q65. What is a System Administrator?
A: Test Build Managers, System Administrators, Database Administrators deliver current software versions to the test environment, install the application's software and apply software patches, to both the application and the operating system, set-up, maintain and back up test environment hardware. Depending on the project, one person may wear more than one hat. For instance, a Test Engineer may also wear the hat of a System Administrator.

Q66. What is a Database Administrator?
A: Test Build Managers, System Administrators and Database Administrators deliver current software versions to the test environment, install the application's software and apply software patches, to both the application and the operating system, set-up, maintain and back up test environment hardware. Depending on the project, one person may wear more than one hat. For instance, a Test Engineer may also wear the hat of a Database Administrator.

Q67. What is a Technical Analyst?
A: Technical Analysts perform test assessments and validate system/functional test requirements. Depending on the project, one person may wear more than one hat. For instance, Test Engineers may also wear the hat of a Technical Analyst.

Q68. What is a Test Configuration Manager?
A: Test Configuration Managers maintain test environments, scripts, software and test data. Depending on the project, one person may wear more than one hat. For instance, Test Engineers may also wear the hat of a Test Configuration Manager.

Q69. What is a test schedule?
A: The test schedule is a schedule that identifies all tasks required for a successful testing effort, a schedule of all test activities and resource requirements.

Q70. What is software testing methodology?
A: One software testing methodology is the use a three step process of...

1. Creating a test strategy;

2. Creating a test plan/design; and

3. Executing tests.

This methodology can be used and molded to your organization's needs. Rob Davis believes that using this methodology is important in the development and in ongoing maintenance of his customers' applications.

Q71. What is the general testing process?
A: The general testing process is the creation of a test strategy (which sometimes includes the creation of test cases), creation of a test plan/design (which usually includes test cases and test procedures) and the execution of tests.

Q72. How do you create a test strategy?
A: The test strategy is a formal description of how a software product will be tested. A test strategy is developed for all levels of testing, as required. The test team analyzes the requirements, writes the test strategy and reviews the plan with the project team. The test plan may include test cases, conditions, the test environment, a list of related tasks, pass/fail criteria and risk assessment.

Inputs for this process:

· A description of the required hardware and software components, including test tools. This information comes from the test environment, including test tool data.

· A description of roles and responsibilities of the resources required for the test and schedule constraints. This information comes from man-hours and schedules.

· Testing methodology. This is based on known standards.

· Functional and technical requirements of the application. This information comes from requirements, change request, technical and functional design documents.

· Requirements that the system can not provide, e.g. system limitations.

Outputs for this process:

· An approved and signed off test strategy document, test plan, including test cases.

· Testing issues requiring resolution. Usually this requires additional negotiation at the project management level.

Q73. How do you create a test plan/design?
A: Test scenarios and/or cases are prepared by reviewing functional requirements of the release and preparing logical groups of functions that can be further broken into test procedures. Test procedures define test conditions, data to be used for testing and expected results, including database updates, file outputs, report results. Generally speaking...

· Test cases and scenarios are designed to represent both typical and unusual situations that may occur in the application.

· Test engineers define unit test requirements and unit test cases. Test engineers also execute unit test cases.

· It is the test team who, with assistance of developers and clients, develops test cases and scenarios for integration and system testing.

· Test scenarios are executed through the use of test procedures or scripts.

· Test procedures or scripts define a series of steps necessary to perform one or more test scenarios.

· Test procedures or scripts include the specific data that will be used for testing the process or transaction.

· Test procedures or scripts may cover multiple test scenarios.

· Test scripts are mapped back to the requirements and traceability matrices are used to ensure each test is within scope.

· Test data is captured and base lined, prior to testing. This data serves as the foundation for unit and system testing and used to exercise system functionality in a controlled environment.

· Some output data is also base-lined for future comparison. Base-lined data is used to support future application maintenance via regression testing.

· A pre-test meeting is held to assess the readiness of the application and the environment and data to be tested. A test readiness document is created to indicate the status of the entrance criteria of the release.

Inputs for this process:

· Approved Test Strategy Document.

· Test tools, or automated test tools, if applicable.

· Previously developed scripts, if applicable.

· Test documentation problems uncovered as a result of testing.

· A good understanding of software complexity and module path coverage, derived from general and detailed design documents, e.g. software design document, source code and software complexity data.

Outputs for this process:

· Approved documents of test scenarios, test cases, test conditions and test data.

· Reports of software design issues, given to software developers for correction.

Q74. How do you execute tests?
A: Execution of tests is completed by following the test documents in a methodical manner. As each test procedure is performed, an entry is recorded in a test execution log to note the execution of the procedure and whether or not the test procedure uncovered any defects. Checkpoint meetings are held throughout the execution phase. Checkpoint meetings are held daily, if required, to address and discuss testing issues, status and activities.

· The output from the execution of test procedures is known as test results. Test results are evaluated by test engineers to determine whether the expected results have been obtained. All discrepancies/anomalies are logged and discussed with the software team lead, hardware test lead, programmers, software engineers and documented for further investigation and resolution. Every company has a different process for logging and reporting bugs/defects uncovered during testing.

· A pass/fail criteria is used to determine the severity of a problem, and results are recorded in a test summary report. The severity of a problem, found during system testing, is defined in accordance to the customer's risk assessment and recorded in their selected tracking tool.

· Proposed fixes are delivered to the testing environment, based on the severity of the problem. Fixes are regression tested and flawless fixes are migrated to a new baseline. Following completion of the test, members of the test team prepare a summary report. The summary report is reviewed by the Project Manager, Software QA (SWQA) Manager and/or Test Team Lead.

· After a particular level of testing has been certified, it is the responsibility of the Configuration Manager to coordinate the migration of the release software components to the next test level, as documented in the Configuration Management Plan. The software is only migrated to the production environment after the Project Manager's formal acceptance.

· The test team reviews test document problems identified during testing, and update documents where appropriate.

Inputs for this process:

· Approved test documents, e.g. Test Plan, Test Cases, Test Procedures.

· Test tools, including automated test tools, if applicable.

· Developed scripts.

· Changes to the design, i.e. Change Request Documents.

· Test data.

· Availability of the test team and project team.

· General and Detailed Design Documents, i.e. Requirements Document, Software Design Document.

· A software that has been migrated to the test environment, i.e. unit tested code, via the Configuration/Build Manager.

· Test Readiness Document.

· Document Updates.

Outputs for this process:

· Log and summary of the test results. Usually this is part of the Test Report. This needs to be approved and signed-off with revised testing deliverables.

· Changes to the code, also known as test fixes.

· Test document problems uncovered as a result of testing. Examples are Requirements document and Design Document problems.

· Reports on software design issues, given to software developers for correction. Examples are bug reports on code issues.

· Formal record of test incidents, usually part of problem tracking.

· Base-lined package, also known as tested source and object code, ready for migration to the next level.