Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Use tools to help you gather information

Problem: Writing and documenting bugs can be time-consuming.

A lot of the test execution we do these days is exploratory. This means that we have little information from scripted test cases that can be copy pasted to bug reports and scenario descriptions. In order to transfer bugs and other information to development, there is a considerable workload of writing everything in steps and do-this-do-that descriptions. This offers two problems: It is boring to describe everything in detail and details are easily forgotten in the process.

Solution: Let snipping and recording tools ease your work

Snipping tools
A picture is worth a thousand words” This goes for defect reports as well – The better the picture the less explanation is needed when pointing development towards the problem. In my experience a good picture on a bugreport is a screenshot with some pointers and a maybe a little text pointing out areas of attention.

Capturing and sharing pictures can be done easily by using a screen capture tool. I use the snipping tool already build into Windows, primarily because it is free, and easily available. Snipping Tool in windows: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/snipping-tool

More sophisticated versions of screen capture tools are on the marked, and I suggest that you check som of them out, as they might be a shortcut to faster feedback to your peers. A colleague of mine demonstrated Snagit a while back, if you are for a more feature rich tool than the windows snipping tool: http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.html

Recording tools
Problem Steps Recorder included in Windows 7 and 8 allows you to record and share scenarios with step descriptions and screenshots recorded. Before we started using MS Test Manager for exploratory testing this was frequently used to make recordings of repro steps for a bug. Check it out: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/how-do-i-use-problem-steps-recorder

MS Test Manager takes the recording to a new level with the possibility of recording both bugs and test cases using the features build into the tool. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/vstudio/hh191621.aspx

There are lots of other recording tools, but if you go for one I suggest that you select one that is more than a Video recording of the screen.

One last thing to remember: “A fool with a tool is still a fool” – Tools are not a silver bullet, but a way to increase productivity and information flow in your organization. Evaluate a new tool in a short period of time, and scrap it if does not give you the results you expect.
Have a nice day & Happy testing!


  1. You should also check Jing (available from TechSmith, providers of SnagIt).
    Jing is free and a great tool which captures both images as well as videos. Plus you get to upload your captures onto screencast.com where you get 2GB space for free on registration. Once uploaded you just provide the URL as a reference. I have been using it for more than 2 years and I simply cannot live it now.

    I am not saying other tools are not good. I am just giving out my opinion based on experience with a sincere hope it helps and simplifies the life of those who read it :)


    1. Thak you for the feedback - I've downloaded Jing this morning and will give it a try for the coming week.

      Have a nice weekend!