December 19, 2008

The Program Environment

Software Testing Techniques Second Edition:Introduction

Program's environment is the hardware and software required to make it run. The environment also includes all programs that interact with—and are used to create—the program under test, such as operating system, loader, linkage editor, compiler, utility routines.

Because hardware and firmware are stable, we don't have to consider all of the environment's complexity. Instead, we work with a simplification of it, in which only the features most important to the program at hand are considered. Our model of the environment includes our beliefs regarding such things as the workings of the computer's instruction set, operating system macros and commands, and what a higher-order language statement will do. If testing reveals an unexpected result, we may have to change our beliefs (our model of the environment) to find out what went wrong. But sometimes the environment could be wrong: the bug could be in the hardware or firmware after all. Today's operating systems and firmware are also as buggy as new application software.

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