Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sanity/Landing Tests Defined/Explained

I use the terms Sanity Test and Landing Test a lot, so I should define what I mean by them—others might use these terms in different ways, but this is how I and my team use them.

When we’re doing a deployment, there is the technical team, which is doing the actual work of the deployment, and troubleshooting any technical issues, and there are the business users, who want to make sure that the application meets their standards before they hand it over to the end users.

The Sanity Tests are done by the technical team. Once we’ve deployed the application, and everything is up and running, we quickly run through it to make sure that it really is up and running. As the name implies, this really is just a quick sanity check, to make sure that everything is up; it’s not meant to be exhaustive.

The Landing Tests are done by the business users. Once the technical team has given the go ahead that the application is up and running (as verified by sanity testing), the business users go ahead and verify that the application is working according to their specifications. As with the sanity tests, landing tests are not meant to be exhaustive; the exhaustive testing should have been done long before the deployment! (We have a phase of testing called User Acceptance Testing, or UAT, which is where the exhaustive testing should have been done.) The purpose of the landing tests is for the business to ensure that everything is running, and that’s it. If a bug is discovered, it must be one of two things:

  1. An environmental issue, where the production environment is different than the other environments and it’s causing a problem, or
  2. A gap in the UAT, where something wasn’t tested properly
We do our best to plan for the former. We get very annoyed by the latter, but to err is human.

If either the sanity tests or the landing tests fail, we do our best to try and fix the problems right then and there, but that’s not always possible—especially at 2:00 in the morning. So when there are issues, it’s up to the business to decide if these issues are “show stoppers,” meaning we have to abort the deployment and roll back to the previous version of the application, or whether the issues are minor enough that they can live with them.

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