Rapid Reporter, exploratory notetaking

This page presents a note taking application that aids in the reporting process of SBTM – Session Based Test Managements.
SBTM is a method for managing exploratory tests, which relies on notes taken during an uninterrupted testing session and a review of these notes afterwards. The notes being the most important part of the whole method, there are many techniques and suggestions on how to carry them on, and some applications that help you do and review them.

This is one of these tools, and you can learn about SBTM here.



Rapid Reporter 1.12.12.28
Windows Direct Download!
User Guide
Session Sample
Note: Application requires .NET 3.5
Mac Direct Download!
Mac User Guide
Note: Application requires OS X 10.10 or above

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This tool wasn’t born, however, from a study of all the steps in SBTM (although it is based on such).
It was born from careful observation of sessions performed by me and other testers, and observation of session reviews.
During such observations, we noticed a few things on the dynamics of note taking and review.

For example, we noticed between other points that:

  • notes should be easy and quick to take, or there will be fewer/poorer notes
  • dealing with the structure of the session report *during* the tests session deviates attention, slows the cognitive process and makes it boring
  • if the session reports aren’t computerized, doing a final report is a nightmare (we had tried hand-written notes for a while for their simplicity, bad idea)
  • session reports that are grouped by section lose their chronology (The two SBTM tools linked above sort by section)
  • session reports in binary format are harder to work with as you cannot index, grep or manipulate easily…

Observations like these guided the design of Rapid Reporter.

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The tool iterated during many versions where it was tweaked to fit my friend’s reporting activities. Any module that wasn’t immediately necessary for reporting a testing step was removed, and the others made more straightforward.

The result has the following benefits:

  • A tool that is standalone (no installation required), can be used across different computers from your USB disk-on-key.
  • It is yellow and always-on-top, so testers don’t need to look for it on their desktop.
  • Notes are taken one by one, in one-liners. Note types (our name for ‘sections’) can be changed while you type by using directional keys.
  • To augment the one-liner notes, the application can take screenshots on-demand, and provides an extended rich text format notes area.
  • All notes are saved in CSV text files, which combine plain text flexibility with spreadsheet manipulation power.

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Tool’s known issues:

  • Windows Only (XP/Vista/7, 32/64).
  • Requires .NET 3.5 :(. If it is an impediment for you, please let me know, I am considering a non-.NET migration.
  • Maximize function works poorly or in very weird manners.
  • Other issues that can be seen at the known issues list.

If you are so kind, please report issues to sgershon@gmail.com or at the comments below.



Rapid Reporter 1.12.12.28
Windows Direct Download!
User Guide
Session Sample
Note: Application requires .NET 3.5
Mac Direct Download!
Mac User Guide
Note: Application requires OS X 10.10 or above

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FAQ:

Q: I need the notes of what I write available as I go, to learn from my path of thought. Can I do that?
A: Sure!
Rapid Reporter offers three ways to do that.
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a) Use the extended note area:
The content here is persistent until you delete it. If it was (at least) once saved, it is available even after you delete the content.
Using built in persistent note is the preferred method.
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b) Look at previous notes in the history context menu:
This will show you all the previous notes, and you can see from here the cognitive progress you’ve passed through.
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c) Open the working folder:
By right clicking the golden area, you can open the current working directory, and there you have full direct raw access to all the notes, attachments and extensions you logged during this (or a previous) session.
Q: Setup“, “Note“, “Test“, “Check“, “Bug“, “Question“, “Next Time” are good types for notes. But at my company we use different terms. Can I change that?
A: Sure!
Start Rapid Reporter from command line, and follow the command with the list of words you’d want to use as note types.
For example, executing:
C:\prompt\> RapidReporter.exe Comment OffCharter Defect Verification TestNumber
Will start Rapid Reporter with “Comment“, “OffCharter“, “Defect“, “Verification“, “TestNumber” as note types.
If you use that line in a batch file (*.bat), it becomes a matter of double-click. Easy and flexible!

New!! This article translated to Serbo-Croatian language by Jovana Milutinovich.


236 Responses

  1. James says:

    Hi Shmuel,

    Thanks for this tool! I’ve been getting my team to use it and it’s been a great help.

    One thing I’ve noticed: If you close the app before your session time expires, no csv file is created and all the notes you just took are lost. I think it would be a great help if the user was prompted while the timer was still going asking if they want to save or not. Another option could be to just create the csv file regardless.

    Thanks again!
    James

    • Hi James!
      CSV files are created as you enter notes — no data loss should occur when you close the app, it crashed, a BSoD appears etc. Testing note files are saved at every note entered.
      If you can elaborate more on how this problem happened to you, I will try to help you on it…
      Can it be that the log files are being saved in a different folder than the one you’re looking at? The default folder is the one from where you execute the app, but it can be changed in the configurations.

  2. […] testing NetLimiter – to simulate low bandwidth Om/Perlclip – put testdata in Clipboard Rapid Reporter – to document your testing Color Oracle – to simulate color blindness Console – a […]

  3. Michael says:

    Good idea! Thank you!
    But two points out of my own experience:
    1. Screenshots should give user ability to select screen region (I have huge display and file has terrible size, when I need only small part of it)
    2. Is it possible to display along with notes items of predefind scenario of the test. This will make RR really the powerfull tool for testers
    Truly yours, Michael.

  4. Hi Shmuel

    Great tool, that could be even better for me if you address the following tickets:

    7ada6c3b09, Dutch uses a semi-colon for CSV, so reports aren’t well read in Excel
    1dd57d3bea, Non ascii characters are not read correctly from notes

    The first one also happens in Swedish Excel, and a “Text to Coliumns” action is needed to make the Table appear properly.
    Would be nice to be able to choose separator (most Swedes would like semicolon or tab.)

    The second one makes characters like åäö become garbage in Swedish Excel.
    Root cause probably is that the csv file export extended characters in UTF-8 encoding, but the file doesn’t have a BOM (should probably have EF BB BF at start of file.)
    Work-around: Re-save in Notepad (either as ANSI or UTF-8)

    • Rikard, ticket 1dd57d3bea was solved — Rapid Reporter has much better encoding support now.
      Ticket 7ada6c3b09 will prove to be much harder :(. I’ll let you now once I update a version with a solution.
      Shmuel

  5. […] after the session. I would explore some other possibilities before building our own for example RapidReporter or SessionWeb, but it is really cool that the meta-discussion could trigger the further thinking […]

  6. […] after the session. I would explore some other possibilities before building our own for example RapidReporter or SessionWeb, but it is really cool that the meta-discussion could trigger the further thinking […]

  7. Saravanan says:

    Hi,

    This is Saravanan from bangalore. I have just gone through the rapid reporter and find it usefull for session based testing.

    But I Have problem with generating HTML report.

    Can u please eloborate how to genenerate HTML report using .CSV file.

    I am using win 7, it shows error message if i use the command mentioned in the user guide for HTML report.

  8. Chandra sekhar says:

    Hi Shmuel Gershon
    Where can i download latest version of Rapid Reporter i.e. version 1.10.11.19
    Please help me to download it

  9. […] this is the way testing is and it is hard to estimate – session based test management (SBTM) and Rapid Reporter (enter your charter/objective – time stamps and records test […]

  10. rahul says:

    hi shmuel,

    It is really interesting and useful tool to work with. I have few questions to discuss.

    1. when I view my session in HTML , there appear few auto-generated screenshots which effects my session flow. can i get rid of those auto-generated screenshots.plz suggest me.

    2.can I view my session in other formats like pdf , etc

    • Hi Rahul!
      Answering your two questions:
      1) Yes, if you have javascript enabled, there is a checkbox on the top of the page that hides all the autogenerated images. I use the images hidden too, but many people prefer to see them.
      2) You can save the HTML in any other format from the browser itself: Save (or print) to PDF, or to a different view.

      Does that help?
      Shmuel

  11. Pamela Endersun says:

    HI Shmuel,
    This is awesome as far as I read what is does. I ‘m just curious how it works. We were taking notes before manually (hand-written) and you were right, the compilation for final reporting is a disaster. We encountered some tool similar to this one and it’s like a transcription tool for tests but our team could hardly manipulate and change the notes while on the process as it was saved in different format. I’m glad this is saved in CSV file. Does it save simultaneously while using it? We are not yet testing now but i am intrigued if it could be used while developing so I wonder if we could try 🙂

    • Pamela, thans for your comment!
      Rapid Reporter saves single-line notes of your tests as you enter them, with a bunch of other information that it saves on the backstage. The notes are easily manipulable.
      Regarding using while programming, I have heard from users who use it during code reviews activities, and I’ve heard from programmers who want to use it to take notes (of what they learn andd notice and want to pay attention) as they program. So yes, I believe you can succeed at it if you try.

      (BTW, your name is really Pamela Endersun? Wow, that must invite a lot of comments!)

  12. Irving says:

    I think I’m going to try rapid reporter look amazing.

  13. Gary Masnica says:

    Hi Shmuel,

    I’ve been really digging Rapid Reporter for months now. It is an amazing aid to keep me focused in my sessions!

    As of late though, I’ve been busy and moving to shorter more rapid fire sessions to context switch more using the Pomodoro technique. So my question is, can the session lengths be adjusted in Rapid Reporter anywhere?

    -Gary

    • Gary, I am glad to hear you are finding value in Rapid Reporter too.

      Sessions are nowadays 60, 90, 120 minutes. A bug ticket is requesting to add a shorter session (possibly 30 min), you can see it here: http://testing.gershon.info/rapidreporter/versions.cgi/tktview?name=3d99b04dee
      Would 30 minutes be enough?

      • Gary Masnica says:

        Thanks for the feedback Shmuel!

        The ideas in that ticket would all be awesome. I think the -timer cmd line option would be the most versatile and could be batched for ease of starting any length of timer. I’d imagine probably one of the easier methods to implement as well.

        The text box would also be great and probably more accessible to a lot of people.

        Do you have any thoughts on allowing source to be downloaded and/or using github for people to work with you on the project? I’m not the sharpest C# knife in the drawer, but I’ve been looking for a project to help out on and what better one than this! 🙂 I totally understand if you can’t/don’t want to, just wanted to put the idea out there!

  14. david marciano says:

    Hey Samuel
    Really interesting and useful tool – excellent.
    Is there support for the Hebrew language?

  15. […] some cool tools for software testers coming up. Especiall he mentioned Shmuel Ghershon’s Rapid Reporter as a great tool for session-based test management. GoTo Meetings, type with.me, Mindmapping tools […]

  16. Jeff Lucas says:

    Shmuel – Wow, what a tool! Lightweight and very useful. I am new to the SBTM approach and have a couple of quick questions. I looked in the user manual and comments above and didn’t see them listed:

    * Do the “Test” and “Check” categories correlate to Michael Bolton’s definition, or do they have specific meanings?
    * Would you normally put the entire test flow in the Test subject? I keep expecting a “Result” flow to pop up next.

    Jeff

    • Hi Jeff, thanks for your questions, and for the comments on Twitter as well :).
      * Test vs Check: Yes, initially they have the meaning of Michael’s work. It helps in both ways: the testers become aware of what type of activity they’re doing, and the session debriefer can scan quickly the session to see where’s the new stuff that was tried (or if a check surprised us with new info).
      * The tests in a session may have a clear expected result, but they may not — oracles may vary and change throughout a test. In addition, tests are seldomly one discrete task, they’re is a sequence of thoughts that can have a clear objective but reaching the objective’s answer may happen anywhere during the test.

      I would like to have a conversation about this last part, but would need your help in identifying what parts require more expansion.

      • Jeff Lucas says:

        Hi Shmuel – I guess I am still stuck in an “engineer” mindset. I come from the hardware standards testing background where “tests” have specific setup, objective, interface, parameter, procedure, and measurement. Changing one or more of those components generally invalidates the test. For software testing, test = learn = explore. Some barriers are hard to dismantle, but knowing they are there makes it a lot easier.

        Another area that I have had to work on is the “Question”. Having that as a specific prompt in the tool makes it a lot easier to exercise it on a regular basis.

        One concept I am having a hard time visualising is an oracle changing -during- a test. Does that imply a change in the essence or the perception of the oracle? For example, feedback from a domain expert or SME could change based on viewing changes to the software. In that case, the domain expert realises that they did not fully explain the required need fully and may clarify. In another case, the development team may change their interpretation of an oracle during development. Do you have an example of the oracle itself changing?

        • Cool. So now were talking both on email and the blog comments :).

          Yes, from my acquaintance with hardware testing, a lot of the approach is building huge Truth Tables.

          But don’t get me wrong:
          I would argue that software tests, even the context-driven flavored ones, can start with a setup, an objective, an interface etc.
          However, changing any of the components do not invalidate the test — it enhances it. As you say, our testing is heavily based on learning, and we leave ourselves open for the unexpected learning too.
          { Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese explorer. He set out to discover a new path to the India (during the times of Portuguese discoveries and colonies), and he certainly started with a clear objective, procedure and tools. Mid-course his learnings made him realize the existence of the southern part of Americas, and he discovered Brazil. More colonies and riches for Portugal. }

          Think about the difference between what you were used at the hardware tests and this kind of tests in relation to the information we look for.
          In one, we may be confirming a previous assessment.
          In the other, we are listing information and even assessments that were not visible or known before that.
          Look at unboxing reviews in YouTube – they start with a closed box and the ultimate objective is talking about the function of the product inside, but on the way to the product an interesting choice of packing material may spur a discussion on how much the company pays attention to details, cares about the customers, or protects the environment. These do not mask the review of the product (the main objective), but a sharp eye to observe them helps discover more information about it.

          You ask a very good question about the changes in Oracles, Jeff. I wish I understood the question better to make sure I address the right doubt.
          Oracles may change in many ways. One of them is changing the entire oracle we are looking at, so if we are analyzing a software while we compare it to a competitor’s product, but we notice it doesn’t feel right, we have switched the oracle from ‘comparable products’ to ‘user expectations’. And even when you stay with the same oracle, it is not static over the course of the testing cycle: the comparable product may change or be updated, or you may learn things about it you didn’t knew before. The user in ‘user expectations’ will change/evolve during the product lifetime as well.
          You write that the expert “realises that they did not fully explain the required need fully”. That is not an accident. We /expect/ the need for these clarifications to arise while we test — we wouldn’t know the full list of questions to ask before that.

          Does that helps in any way, or you’re asking something else?
          I’m not good at giving you full complete answers (that’s Michael Bolton’s specialty), but sometimes I’m good at expanding and triggering more questions that help 🙂

          I am so happy about what you wrote regarding the “question” prompt in Rapid Reporter! I used your quote on an introductory lecture about exploratory testing I gave at work yesterday :).

          Jeff, thanks for letting me be a side on this conversation!
          Shmuel

  17. Ron Lang-Alon says:

    Hi Shmuel,

    I’m having a problem converting the .csv to .html.

    I’m getting “The syntax of the command is incorrect” in the CMD line.

    I assume I’m missing something here.

    Can you help me?

    I have a screenshot I can send you of the file path, files, error etc. if you like.

    Thanks,

    Ron

    • Hi Ron, thanks for posting this problem here.
      The error message you see is not one of the error messages returned by Rapid Reporter, which can suggest that you may be using a batch file to run the command and receiving the error from one of the commands in the batch file (many of the built-in commands of the system do return that error message).

      I can try to help if you send me a copy of the batch file, and all the infotmation you mention, to my email. I’ll write you an email now to make it easy to reply back.

      Thanks for sharing the problem, we can later re-post the solution here to help others who find the same problem in the future!
      Shmuel

  18. Ruud Cox says:

    Hi Shmuel,

    I’m using RapidReporter 1.11.03.20 on a 2 display Windows 7 x64 machine.

    I have 2 feature requests:

    1. I’d like to run the SUT on display #1 and RapidReporter on display #2 and take screenshots of display #1 only. In the version I use, a screenshot is saved from both displays.

    2. It would be nice if RapidReporter could provide a means to keep track of how the time within a session is spent e.g. setup, testing, problem investigation. I imagine 3 small buttons. Each button logs a state change e.g. From SETUP to TESTING
    From TESTING to PROBLEM_INVESTIGATION
    From PROBLEM_INVESTIGATION to TESTING
    etc
    This would help in collecting some metrics about time spent in the session.

    Thanks for the awesome tool,
    Ruud Cox

    • Ruud, thank you so much for the comment!

      Let me address your two points.

      1. Yes, Rapid Reporter supports multiple screens on screen-shots (even recording on the screenshot the position and size of each screen). I will consider your idea, and have opened a ticket for it now. Rudd, you can use shift-click for screenshot ont he latest versions of Rapid Reporter in order to edit the shot as soon as it is taken. Not a complete or good solution for your problem, but you may find it useful.
      2. There is already a ticket opened on that . I want to implement this and have been experimenting with a few ideas.

      Again, thanks for taking the time to write your ideas, they really help make it better. Please note that having an suggestion on a ticket is not a guarantee of having if implemented :), I am very very cautious of adding new features, so it may take it’s time. 🙂

    • Keith says:

      Hi Schmuel,
      I am having the same issues as Ruud’s point 1. I love the quick screenshot feature but in only works in a clean way when I am using one screen. Being able to choose how the screenshot is done as preconfiguration would be incredibly time saving. I don’t want to have to fiddle with my screenshots instead of testing.
      Here are some ideas for screenshot preconfigs that are automatically configured based on the seeting.
      1. call normal print screen (takes everything)
      2. call alt – print screen (takes active window)
      for the above two see http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/take-screen-capture-print-screen#take-screen-capture-print-screen=windows-7

      That would be a first nice improvement and could be enough. To continue on this line it might also be cool to see if it is possible to tie into the snipping tool for number 3.
      3. call snipping tool which allows you to select the exact region. Just try snipping tool in Win7 and you can see what I mean.

      And since I am being very wishful here, how about being able to swithc between the “types” of screenshots mentioned above on the fly with a hotkey. i.e. hit some Function key to quickly go through them so that during a test you can switch easily between them.

      • Hi Keith – thanks for the detailed comment. I specially like that you suggested sites and info 🙂 .

        I am trying to understand the issue you present.
        The way I calculate the full screenshot boundaries ends up with identical boundaries as any other Windows screenshot. To help with my confusion, I did a comparison between 5 methods for screenshot: a) Snipping Tool, b) Print Screen key, c) Rapid Reporter by clicking button, d) Rapid Reporter by shift-clicking, e) Rapid Reporter by Hot-Key. All of them seem to set the screens in the same form, see the image below for the results:
        Rapid Reporter Screen Comparison

        Sorry for causing you to write more, but… can you describe more of what the problem you are facing is? Thanks!

  19. […] is an active blogger and recently released an open source test tool, Rapid Reporter, which helps keep track of notes while exploratory testing. […]

  20. Markus says:

    Hi Shmuel,
    I’ve been using the Reporter for a few days now to keep track of what I do during development (uuuhhhh abuse 😉 ).

    It would be nice if the note types could be changed using (configurable) hotkeys.

    Cheers
    Markus

    Oh, btw. the tools is awesome 🙂

  21. Andreas Arens says:

    Shmuel,

    we really like your RapidReporter as it is a great help for us doing qualification testing as well as exploratory testing. However, as I tend to convert a bunch of CSV files to HTML using a batch script in one go, I would like to propose to add another switch, e.g. -silent, so no popups that have to be clicked away will be presented to the user.
    What do you think?

    Thanks for the great tool.

    Andreas

  22. […] recommend Hexawise, Rapid Reporter and now Perfecto Mobile With free hours added to my account, I started exploring. I have a Nokia […]

  23. […] Rapid Reporter […]

  24. […] succeeded and presented rich documents at the end of the mission. Shmuel Gershon used his favorite Rapid Reporter, Justin Byers used XMind, and Ajay Balamurugadas used […]

  25. […] the afternoon we explored note taking tools. We started with Sesison Tester, Rapid Report, and BB Test Assistant. One of the participants also suggested the free WebEx Recorder (can’t […]

  26. […] tool, like TestComplete, or a lightweight Session-Based Exploratory Testing assistant, like RapidReporter, generating good test reports is a challenging task. Obviously, hand-crafted reports would be much […]

  27. […] is helping me not to deviate from my testing in the name of documenting steps. Download this from here and give a […]

  28. Hi Shmuel, you gave a demo of this tool in a lightning talk in my hotel room at 2010 Stareast. I’m glad to see you completed it and I can’t wait to give it a whirl.

    I asked you the same question after said lightning talk, but I am hoping maybe your answer has changed. Is there a way to attach completed session sheets to work items in MS VSTS? We want our project teams to have access to our sessions via the Feature work items. I’m thinking this would be a problem b/c the session sheet is not one file.

    Perhaps your tool will support users saving session sheets to a network share and we could paste a link in VSTS or something.

    • Eric, thanks for commenting!
      Yes, I remember your suggestion. In fact, you are one of the first names in the credits :).

      We talked at the time of adding/linking the sessino file (*.CSV) to the work item. Do you prefer somethign else now? One of the things Rapid Reporter has is the option to transform a session into HTML. Like the example here from today’s Weekend Testing session. Is that better?

      Eric, I like the network share idea! If the network share is mapped to a drive letter it might just work. Wait for the next release of Rapid Reporter, it will allow directories 🙂

      • Shmuel, the current CSV implementation fits our needs. This app is a joy to use. I finally started using it. It was not running on my new Win7 box for some reason. It would hide itself after launch. A programmer on my team suggested I update my graphics driver and that fixed it. Who knew? I guess you’re not to blame for that problem.

        Anyway, thanks again. I’m going to show this tool to Turner Broadcasting testers at an upcoming lightning talk.

        BTW – I am not in your credits.

        • Oh, Eric, that’s so cool!
          Let me know how the lightning talk goes. When will it be? A next version will have two killer features your team will like :).

          (Eric, I’m adding you to the credits right away, your name will appear in the next version. Rightfully deserved after the inputs at StarEast.)

  29. […] do when we come together: again some nice additonal ideas go across the table: exploring tools like Rapid Reporter, discuss and share heuristics and do […]

  30. […] Gershon, Testing Engineer в Intel, представляет Rapid Reporter (инструмент для исследовательского тестирования) и […]

  31. […] mindmaps help in organizing the thoughts was discussed. Slowly testers compared Text2Mindmap with Rapid Reporter, Freemind and Session […]

  32. Alex Rotaru says:

    Hi Shmuel,

    Thanks for answering so fast to my comment. Unfortunately the interface is not fully functional on the virtual machines, so I can’t really use the recorder while I’m on my Mac. I’m still waiting for the cross-platform version, though :).

    I’ll send you the screen-shots via email.

    Alex

  33. Alex Rotaru says:

    Hi Shmuel,

    I tried to use the tool on two virtual machines from MacOSX (VMWare – Win7 and Parallels – WinXP) but it didn’t work as I expected, or to be more precise, it did work the same way as on PCs with XP or Win7 installed.

    I can send you screen-shots if you want.

    Alex

    • Alex, yes, definitely! That’s very interesting!
      BTW, I am very happy that it runs on the virtual machines there :), may be a solution for some of the Mac users until the cross-platform is released. Not ideal, because of all the switching, but still something.

      The “did not work the same way” information is very interesting.
      That’s a very interesting thing to test and to make Oracles from/with. For example, I don’t thing any of the options in HICCUPS (http://www.developsense.com/articles/2005-01-TestingWithoutAMap.pdf) covers “comparable Environments”. We just discovered the E-HICCUPS, Alex :).

      If you can send screenshots or descriptions, I would be grateful.
      Shmuel

  34. […] files also belong into the session log file. Feilberg mentioned that tools like Session Tester and Rapid Reporter help to keep these session […]

  35. […] different approaches used by tester. came across a new tool to take notes while exploratory testing Rapid Reporter – I can take all this things from […]

  36. […] will be documenting my first exploration of a note-taking tool (Shmuel Gershon‘s free Rapid Reporter tool) to assist exploratory testing sessions.  That’s right, I’ll be exploring an […]

  37. […] Gershon introduced his lightweight yet powerful tool that really rocked. Why?  Rapid Reporter was created by tester for testers. (And it’s free/open source). I won’t go further […]

  38. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Declan Whelan, Michael Bolton, Tim Western, Michael Larsen, Selena Delesie and others. Selena Delesie said: RT @michaelbolton: Rapid Reporter, a test logging tool, available at http://bit.ly/d5aiAW #testing #softwaretesting #qa Thanks @sgershon! […]

  39. Kobi Halperin says:

    Looking at Rapid SW Testing course slide #80, which shows the ET tester focus path diverting to different directions,
    I am wondering if one can mark a point to return to.
    If I am investigating A, but suddenly see B as a better challenge, then move to C – but maybe I would like to mark A as an unfulfilled job to return to within this session.
    Is there a way for me to write some “expected next step due to…” and later on return to it, and continue on?

    • I understand you are asking specifically regarding Rapid Reporter.

      I use the “Next Time” note to mark areas/approaches I want to cover in a future session in case I don’t reach them during the current one (usually we don’t reach them — 90 min sessions give plenty of time to run forward freely without always coming back). For us, thats the only use for these notes.
      When I review a session with a tester, we go over the notes marked with “Next Time” so we can decide on the charter for the next sessions.

      What do you think? Would that work for your team?
      Remember that you can easily filter the “Next Time” notes from a session or all sessions in Excel to make your job easier.

      • Kobi Halperin says:

        (Sorry – posted another copy of following answer in wrong context)
        I was thinking more of being able to switch to these items – for instance:
        Have a drop down menu with these skipped items (only items marked for return to), so one can select an item, see the comment and continue from there within same session.
        The item is now marked as pursued – so we don’t need to follow it in next session.
        Do you see this as practical (Ask your team if they would find it useful)?

        • That’s cool, I removed the duplicate comments.

          Kobi, I’ll ask my team. They do keep tack of the opportunities found by using the currect notes and the persistent note area or the context menu history.
          But a separate area for todos is an interesting concept. Let’s see if they ‘buy’ 🙂

      • Kobi Halperin says:

        What I seem to be missing, is an online view – rather than heading to excel and start filtering.

        I was also thinking it might be useful to present a Tree-like branching graph, showing the directions taken during the session.
        Dead-ends could be marked green, and points to continue / return-to may be mark orange.
        This can ease reorientation during the session, as well as give a graphical presentation which will ease debriefing.

        • Kobi, you have to see my undergraduate project at the university. It was about 2-dimention navigation of visited paths, reminds your comment a lot (a treeview-like control). But alas, even if I find it we wouldn’t see it because it’s stored on an old diskette.

          Anyway, a tree-view wouldn’t make justice to multidimentional explorations (multi equals more than 2). And having to keep the structure would make the application quite useless for explorer testers according to my experience: the tester should lead the way, not the app.

          Additionlly, I don’t think this linear approach to following paths on a map is the correct one to base the visualization of tests in.
          Some testers (well, at least me) see it like a battleship board – there is no a path that connect all the dots, but rather many separated collection of experiments.
          Maybe limiting the way a tester visualizes or organizes her tests can make her tests less powerful.

          • Ray Oei says:

            We had the same discussion on my team. But we ended up with the conclusion that we only ‘needed’ that if the tester had lost track of what he/she was doing. Which meant that the focus was lost or the mission too vague. So we needed to address that.
            And only making notes of ideas (next time) seems to be sufficient for us in that case.

            😉

            • Thanks for the comment from your experience, Ray.
              I also found that having a heavy load from the tool on the mind makes it less useful. If testers had to pay too much attention in translating his multidimensional steps into 2-d views, then many of the benefits vanish.
              And the more I try it, in our experience, the more I like discrete (almost) independent notes.

  40. Kobi Halperin says:

    In Rapid SW Testing course slides – exploratory testing part, James Bach states the need to alternate your approach, figure out your Pattern of testing in last few tests, and intentionally change it.
    I wonder if some of the data one can log regarding the progress of ET, can be used to spot the pattern used, and maybe even suggest alternate patterns.
    _________________
    Yours,
    Kobi

    • Good idea, Kobi.

      Can you think of any way to let the computer do that reliably, that would not force a note taking style upont the tester?
      I went over such a problem (for a slightly different purpose – showing testing hints as testers go) with a tester from my team in the past, but could not devise any smart semantic AI :). Would be glad to hear your views on this.

  41. In the spirit of Context-Driven testing, I believe Exploratory and Scripted Testing should be managed together,
    I would like to invite you all to review my thoughts regarding Integrating ET within ALM tool.

    http://xqual.freeforums.org/post3876.html#p3876

    Your thoughts and ideas are welcomed.

    Kobi

    • Kobi, in the spirit of Context-Driven, there is no should.
      (testing can be managed with an ALM tool, with a different method, or not managed at all)

      But I agree that there is much value in keeping both tests together — more than that, it is my belief that you can not separate the two.

      • Kobi Halperin says:

        I agree “should” is not the appropriate term.

        And I assume, Scripted and ET are the only types of testing mindsets,
        But I would definitely prefer to manage all testing approaches in a single tool, rather than having to switch test management tools which is much less intuitive.

        Kobi

        • That preference is a good point, and attending preferences is often a good idea (unles, well, the preference is a bad one (so a better idea would be to analyse our preferences :))).

          Using the opportunity to plug the Rapid Reporter tool again… some people are attaching the *.CSV or *.HTM report to their test execution tool, to show how the test was conduced apart from the script. How does that seem to you?

          • Kobi Halperin says:

            Well, there is nothing wrong with that (as history keeping), but I am not sure if that is quite useful – haven’t seen too many people put an effort on post mortem activities.
            I assume no one actually reads these afterwards.

            If anything needs to be done – it should be right away – that is:
            If we have an item (Test or Test Case idea) to keep for future executions, it should be automatically added (or at least added in a single action) to the Tests DB as well as Reporter session log.
            Ad Hoc tests, can be logged within the Test suite execution summary (again in a single action), just to have the details to compare next cycles.
            Bugs are mostly handled on-line already in almost all tools.
            Any other types of notes which might be useful outside the session summary discussion?

            • History is an important part of accountability.

              As for the rest, yes, I agree with immediate action: bugs should be noted quickly, tests added quickly (if there’s a tests list), questions answered as soon as possible.

  42. Selim Mia says:

    Shmuel,
    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful tool 🙂

    This tool seems to be very useful to the type of testing we’re applying. We are not fully applying ET (complete ET is applied only in few projects), mostly our basic test cases are stored on Test Management tool (RTH) but during execution testers explore each of the test cases by analyzing the feature(s) and generate new test ideas to execute. Also testers are motivated for note taking during execution eg. what other test ideas they have generated, identified issues, observation etc. So, your tool will be more helpful for our note taking part to add more accountability of testers effort (yet i didn’t apply this tool in any project, currently evaluating based on our purpose).

    One observation,
    when I click on (“S”) to take screen shot, it save a blank *.jpg file (only black screen on the jpg file). I’m not sure whether this issue is same for all other user or only i’m facing the problem. Your comments would be very much helpful for me.

    Regards,
    – Selim

    • Selim, thanks for your comment!
      Yes, this use seems to be a very common use of Rapid Reporter, people that expand their test scripts and want to keep track of the exploration. Some users attach the *.CSV or a *.ZIP file to the execution of each script to make it easy to follow up. The files are fully indexables and searchable.
      Some users prefer a different format for that, so they requested the “-tohtml” switch, that generates and HTML file with the content of the report. See if it better fits your needs.

      The ‘blank’ screenshot is interesting, no one reported that before.
      Can I contact you by email to inquire more about this? This feedback is very important.

      Thanks!
      Shmuel
      Ps> You have a nice blog, congrats!

      • Selim Mia says:

        Hi Shmuel,
        Thanks for your response and additional info. But in my downloaded version (1.10.09.15) of your tool couldn’t find “-tohtml” switch option 🙁 assume it can be done by command line start with additional parameter OR i’m missing something 🙂

        About “blank” screenshot, still facing the same problem but in other PCs it works fine! For further inquire it’s my pleasure to communicate through email (sel[spam_protection]om).

        One feedback/suggestion:
        We are in need of Linux version of the same tool. Surely, Linux version of the same tool would be more helpful to many 🙂

        Thanks & regards,
        – Selim

        • Selim, thanks! Let’s continue debugging by email :).

          A Linux version is in the product backlog… And I’m already looking at the options (unfortunately wine or mono aren’t enough, so I’ll have to rewrite the app). Who knows? Maybe it’ll be ready soon (but maybe not 🙂).

  43. […] Yes, it’s called Rapid Reporter: It seems to be a wonderfully lightweight tool for keeping session-based test notes. I have also […]

  44. Marc Goodwin says:

    Shmuel,

    Another observation,

    when I use the -tohtml switch, i get the following error.
    “Ouch! An error occured when trying to write the note into a file….”
    The error window went on to sugest possible causes, inlcuding issues with permissions or the file is block by ontoer program.

    Both of these were no true at the time.
    Despite the error, the file is created antyway.

    Regards,

    • Marc, thanks, this is great feedback.
      The test charter is displayed when you hover your mouse over the text area. It serves as a small non-annoying reminder.

      I’ll contact you by mail to get better information on the file-access problem you saw.
      Thanks again!

  45. Marc Goodwin says:

    Shmuel,

    Firstly great app. it very much suits the type of Session testing I’m employing.

    A couple of questions/suggestions.

    Your main web site suggests that the RapidReporter window can display the charter text. How is that feature turned on?

    Secondly, when I select to capture a screen shot (“S”) it actually captures two occurrences of the screen shot. Is there a reason behind this?

    I particularly like the .html conversion. Is it possible to have the images imbedded, rather than a thumb nail and a link? This would include the .rft files.

    Kind regards,

  46. Kobi Halperin says:

    Hi,
    Thank you for sharing this tool,
    Though I have no experience with ET, I find this tool very intriguing.
    1. I am wondering if such a tool would better be made as a Java applet (to reduce the need to install or keep it with you), get the session charter from and write into a common DB repository ?
    2. I am wondering if this can/should be integrated with a Test Management tool like QC or XStudio, so when using both scripted as well as ET, both are managed together, and some of the ET ideas can be made into a scripted test, while others just add into the release coverage metrics.
    3. Have you considered adding ability to reach different cheat-sheets directly from the tool as in “Session Scan Tool”?
    (Each Group can link to cheat-sheets relevant to their work, maybe also build ideas back into cheat sheets as we go?)
    4. I am not familiar enough with the way a session is summarized, but wonder if an interactive tool to lead this process could be useful (based on logged results and some common guidelines/check-list)?
    5. What percentage of SB testing are you doing (vs. scripted testing if at all)?

    • Kobi, thanks a lot for your comments and suggestions, I am glad it intrigued you :).
      Exploratory testign benefit a lot from notes taken, and having a good tool leads to better notes that lead to better tests.

      Please let me answer each of your questions one by one. I really appreciate you taking the time to write them.

      1) I thoght about centralizing Rapid Reporter on the web, but decided not to for three reasons:
      . . a) I test software in computers that are not connected to an external network (i.e. have no access to the internet), and while I know that it is a rare condition, there are other places where that happens.
      . . b) Most companies are wary of writing internal info about bugs on internet services.
      . . c) The program was already written as *.exe, and re-writing it would be much work for a lazy like me 🙂

      2) A friend todl me he can manage the scripted tests in Visual Studio Team System by attaching the session file to the test case. I believe it can be done just the same in QC?

      3) I’ll think more about this. It is a good idea, but I really would like to keep internet-independent and one file only

      4) I like this idea very much.

      5) I am personally only doing mostly exploratory testing, the way my team works now fits this well. But I’ve done exploratory testing on normal scripted cycles as well.
      I would be very happy to write a big answer if you expand a little bit the question — on a blog post or even by email!

      • Kobi Halperin says:

        Thanks for the detailed reply here and in E-Mail, Shmuel.

        Small clarification, when talking about Java applet, I was assuming mainly usage of Intranet rather than www – like many bug tracking tools.

        Might get back with more ideas, as the ET discussion at Tapuz forum will progress 🙂

  47. […] Product: Rapid Reporter 0.9.9.0 […]

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