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A Simple Guide to Interoperability Testing (with Examples)

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Before understanding the technique of “Interoperability Testing”, Lets first understand the term “Interoperability”. Interoperability is an ability of one system to interact with another system. This interaction is between 2 different systems or 2 different applications all together. Many a time Interoperability is confused with Integration, compatibility and portability. Well, there are differences between these techniques.

Let me first start by explaining the differences.

Integration – Is a technique when the components of the same system interact with each other. So in testing world, when we do Integration testing, we are actually testing the behavior of the 2 or more, lowest levels of components of the same system.

Compatibility – Is a technique by which 2 or more application interact in the same environment. So in testing world, when we do Compatibility testing; we validate whether 2 or more application or systems behave as expected in the same environment. The intention here is to check that the two systems perform their expected tasks, without interfering each other working, in the same environment. Like – MS Word and Calculator are 2 different application and they perform their expected behavior independently in the same operating system. So we say that these 2 applications are compatible with each other.

Portability – Is a technique when an application or system behaves as expected when it is moved to another environment. So in Portability testing, we export the application to some other environment and test its behavior. Like, if there is an application which works well in Windows XP, should also work well in Windows 10.

Interoperability – Is a technique how an application interacts with another application. So when we do the Interoperability testing, we check how the data from 1 application is transferred into another application without prior intimation, in a meaningful manner, and further processed to give the accepted output.

Interoperability Testing – A brief introduction
Interoperability = Inter + operable
Inter – means “between ourselves”, “within each other”, “mutual”
Operable – means “capable of performing the given task”

So combining the 2 terms together – Interoperability means 2 (or more) systems, capable of performing their allocated task independently and able to communicate with each other as expected without affecting their individual assigned functionality.

Example #1 : Take an example of reserving your flight. Consider you need to travel from New Delhi to New York. Now you don’t have a direct flight. You have to travel from New Delhi to London and then take connecting flight from London to New York. Because you have some time constraints, you reserve your flight from New Delhi to London in “Jet Airways” airways and from London to New York in “Virgin Atlantic”. So that means all your passenger details got traversed from Jet Airways to Virgin Atlantic. So here, Jet Airways and Virgin Atlantic, both are independent application all together and while reserving your flight, your details of booking got exchanged from Jet Airways to Virgin Atlantic in a meaning full manner, without prior intimation.

Example #2 : In similar lines, think of the hospital administration system, where the records of patients are exchanged between 1 department to other department. So here department can be linked to an application. Details of the patient get exchanged between 1 application to another application without any prior notice.

So why do we need to do the IOT?

We would need to do the Interoperability testing to ensure that

1. The applications in the network perform their expected behavior independently,
2. Can exchange information without prior notice
3. The information/data is exchanged without interrupting the individual expected behavior
4. The data / information which is exchanged does not gets modified or changed
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