RapidReporter

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 Subscribe to get version updates
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 Subscribe to get version updates
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.

217 thoughts on “Rapid Reporter, exploratory notetaking”

  1. Hi Shmuel,

    FYI: the links to TestExplorer and Session Tester aren’t longer valid. In other hand, I’ve found a very nice tool to implement SBTM for a team: http://www.sessionweb.org/

    Regards,

    Elisa.

    PS: if you’re planning to migrate RapidReporter to a more flexible platform, like Java or Python, I can help. I love to code but I’ve never had the opportunity to do that for a team. Feel free to contact me anytime.

    1. Elisa, thanks for your note.
      Unfortunately, Test Explorer and Session Tester were taken offline. It is pity, as the testers who programmed these apps are good people with strong testing approach. But it is understandable, as maintaining a program over weekends is hard work and takes time from what some people call life :) .

      Elisa, the first option for a cross-platform version was Qt. If we change the direction into Java, I’ll post at the blog – any help is welcome!!

  2. Hi Shmuel,
    As you release the tool as Creative Commons BY-NC-SA, which excludes commercial use. Have you considered changing the license or releasing a commercial version, so that the tool can be used by any company for testing of their products?

    1. Antoni, Rapid Reporter is released in a LGPL license – see the about dialog.
      The license allows you (or others) to: use Rapid Reporter at home or at an office, to test commercial and/or non-commercial products. It also allows you to download the source code and modify it.
      The only limitation of that license is that when you distribute modifications to the Rapid Reporter code, you should keep these modifications free and open-source for the community. This limitation is unlikely to bother your company’s use of Rapid Reporter.

      I should also add some clearer text in the Rapid Reporter page to make the permission explicit… but for now you have the details in this answer and in your mail.
      Thanks for the question!

  3. Hello Shmuel,

    I used rapid reporter for serveral time on a windows machine. Now i changed from company and there the are having Mac’s.
    Are there plans to create a Mac version
    of Rapid reporter.

    if so when can we expect a first test version.

    regards Raymond

    1. Raymond, yes there are plans.
      We are experimenting with QT, and may have a beta out soon… from Beta to completion it looks like a long time though :(.
      I’ll keep you posted, though!

  4. Hey Shmuel.
    I was using your tool some years ago and just came back to it.
    Now I remember why I had to stop using it last time and I’ll share it with you.

    There is a problem saving notes in a csv file since in natural writing I use that character quite a lot. So, writing a note like this:

    “Click you clickable button, just click.”

    will corrupt the csv which instead of the regular 6 columns will have 7.

    I suspect that this is also the reason for the below reported issues with creating html-files.

    Would it be possible to somehow change the output, perhaps write a xml output module?

    1. Hi Oscar – thanks for the comment!
      Rapid Reporter transforms all commas inside notes into semi-colons. That is especially to prevent the issue you describe. I have just checked a CSV and an HTML to make sure the feature still functions the same, and also looked at sample reports of other users

      Now, we may be up to something interesting! In some locales (like Germany) Excel changes the definition of CSV so to use with Excel these users need to change the Excel defaults (granted, the Excel difference causes them problems with any CSV, not only Rapid Reporter). Perhaps Sweden has another special characteristic?

      Would you be willing to help debug this problem in the way the app works in your locale? It will be useful to get a sample of the files generated by Rapid Reporter in your system. I’ll send you a mail and we can continue the details there.

      Thanks for your report, it helps a lot.

      1. I can help you on this as well.

        In Finland Windows7 PC’s we use “;” for “List separator” and “,” for “Decimal separator”. I would assume, that those are other way around in Rapid Reporter. This will make this not working for us. You can find those settings from Control Panel – Clock, Language, and Region – Additional settings

        This is original CSV file I got (not able to open this to Excel):
        Time,Reporter,Type,Content,Screenshot,RTF Note
        10.11.2014 11:29:05,Marko,(Rapid Reporter version),”1.12.12.28″,,
        10.11.2014 11:29:05,Marko,Session Reporter,”Marko”,,
        10.11.2014 11:29:05,Marko,Session Charter,”Test RR”,,
        10.11.2014 11:29:19,Marko,Setup,”Windows 7; Office 2013; FIN regional settings”,,
        10.11.2014 11:29:27,Marko,Test,”ENG test”,,
        10.11.2014 11:29:38,Marko,Test,”FIN letters: ÅÄÖ”,,
        10.11.2014 11:30:02,Marko,Test,”Comma between words: this; that”,,
        10.11.2014 11:30:07,Marko,Test,”end”,,
        10.11.2014 11:30:09,Marko,Session End. Duration,”00:01:03″,,

        And I modified it to be like this to get it working:
        Time;Reporter;Type;Content;Screenshot;RTF Note
        10.11.2014 11:29:05;Marko;(Rapid Reporter version);1.12.12.28;;
        10.11.2014 11:29:05;Marko;Session Reporter;Marko;;
        10.11.2014 11:29:05;Marko;Session Charter;Test RR;;
        10.11.2014 11:29:19;Marko;Setup;Windows 7, Office 2013, FIN regional settings;;
        10.11.2014 11:29:27;Marko;Test;ENG test;;
        10.11.2014 11:29:38;Marko;Test;FIN letters: ÅÄÖ;;
        10.11.2014 11:30:02;Marko;Test;Comma between words: this, that;;
        10.11.2014 11:30:07;Marko;Test;end;;
        10.11.2014 11:30:09;Marko;Session End. Duration;00:01:03;;

        -> pay attention on how following characters are used: , and ; and ”

        CSV file format uses comma as a default separator. You can change it by using following line as a 1st line in each CSV file:
        sep=
        for example: sep=;

        Would it be possible to add functionality for this? So that I can open tool with parameter “sep”, e.g.:
        rapidreporter.exe -sep=;
        -> tool uses ; as a separator and uses comma normally when writing notes.
        -> 1st line of the CSV file contains used separator (i.e. “sep=;” in this example)
        -> if parameter is not used -> writes “sep=,” into the 1st line of the CSV file

      2. Hi, sorry for being so slow. I just noticed today, after months of shying the commas in my notes, that it actually converts the commas to semi-colons.

        But yes, you may be on to something, I have also, since my last comment, changed my locale from Swedish to US-english.

        Of course I’ll hep debugging!
        I’ll send you a ping by mail..

  5. Hi Shamuel,

    At first i was able to convert the CSV file into HTML’s and the reports were getting generated and the tool was beautiful, after a couple of sessions I found that I couldn’t convert the CSV files anymore, there is an error that gets thrown when I use the command “RapidReporter.exe -tohtml NAMEOFSESSIONFILE.CSV”.

    I am navigated to the Help Window but i click on the OK button, an “Index Out of bounds of array” error is thrown.

    Am i doing something obviously wrong and getting this error? There was open instance of the CSV file.

  6. Hi Shmuel,

    I am having problems converting the CSV file to HTML,

    I get the same error as mentioned in Comment #4 by Bhupendra Singh, Could you please reply to my mail or post it here so that people who face this error can benefit from the solution.

    1. Ok the ordering changes here is the problem I face,

      When i run the command ‘Welcome rapid Reporter !’ popup comes and then click on OK button then againg another ‘Rapid Repoter file Error.csv’
      popup is shows its says:
      Ouch! An Error occured when trying to write the note into file. The file name is: XXXXXXX.csv
      Execption detailsfor Investigation:
      Index wasOutside the bounds of the array.

  7. If i use rapid reporter on Win7 with Texter 6.0 combination scrolling of rapid reporter is not working fine.If i scroll once it just jumping two items instead of one.

    1. Hi Naveen – thanks for your comment. If you can provide more information about the bug it will be great, as it is hard to visualize the problem based on the current description.

      Feel free to add more information here — I’ll write you an email to ask for the details in any case.

  8. Hi Shmuel,

    We are looking to roll out rapid reporter for all exploratory testing at the company I work for. There are a couple of issues though I’d like to discuss with you, is it possible to talk over skype?

    Thanks
    Syed

  9. Hi Shmuel,
    Thank you for sharing this tool,

    Earlier i was able to create HTML file successfully.
    But now m not able to create html file
    When i run the command ‘Welcome rapid Reporter !’ popup comes and then click on OK button then againg another ‘Rapid Repoter file Error.csv’
    popup is shows its says:
    Ouch! An Error occured when trying to write the note into file. The file name is: XXXXXXX.csv
    Execption detailsfor Investigation:
    Index wasOutside the bounds of the array.

    Could you please helps in this…

    Thanks
    Bhupendra singh

  10. Hi Shmuel,

    I use the latest version, and when generating report.
    There is no screenshot and rtf link displayed.
    Check the source code of html.
    They are all saved as text.

    Thanks,
    Stan

    1. Hi Stan!
      Can it be in the way the -directory command is being used?

      In your case, for example, if you use: RapidReporter -directory ABC -tohtml abc.csv or RapidReporter -tohtml abc.csv -directory ABC, do you still see it that way?

      Thanks for complaining, it helps a lot :) !
      Shmuel

  11. Hi,
    Will rapid reporter works for win XP and 7 OS.Does it have same features like session tester.
    Please let me know.

  12. Similar to comment #8 and #9 above, has anyone done any work with parsing the logs? Just to cite the easy example, I think it would be interesting to see how much time is spent per category.

    Great tool!
    Allen

    1. Allen, the good thing about a CSV file is that it can be manipulated any way you’d like with Excel.
      If you’d like to work together in a Macro for Excel, let’s try it together over email!

  13. Shmuel,

    Thanks for a great tool – Unobtrusive, feature-rich and nifty.

    I wanted to check if I can append notes to one file only within a directory.

    I know about the consolidation feature but just having the option to update one file only rather than creating a new one could be useful.

    Please keep up the good work and let the updates coming…

    1. Thanks for the nice comments, Sandeep.
      Sandeep, the reason we don’t ovewrite a file when doing a report is because there’s value in keping the original session untouched.
      For example, that way one can always refer to individual sessions and is files, and one can do different consolidated reports out of different session files.

      Your batch files can remove the originals if you’d like, and can rename the newly created one.
      If you want help building this batch files, just send me a note on email!

  14. This is cool!

    This tool was suggested by one of our testers and we have just started to use it, the ‘User Guide’ is pretty clear and useful!

    The best part about this tool is that it is too easy to use! Also, it keeps us focussed while testing as we record our notes! Thanks for sharing it!

  15. I converted my .csv to .html using RapidReporter -tohtml, but found that there were no links to the snapshots in the resulting htm file.
    I found out the following:
    When I have RapidReporter.exe in the same directory as the generated files, then the htm contains proper links.
    When I use -directory option to get the generated files in another location, then there are NO links.
    In this way, the -directory options is not useful for me. Any tips to solve this? Or is it an issue?

    1. Thanks for writing :) !
      I hope our conversations on the email clarified that a little bit!
      There is more about this commands at page 6 of the user guide… the command line (or your batch file) can follow this form:
      C:\> RapidReporter.exe -directory PATH -tohtml FILE.CSV

  16. Shmuel,
    Thanks for this pretty tool! I love it.
    Though i am not a tester, but i use this as my reading journals reporter tool. It’s great!
    Expect below feature:
    #30667ab2ff Feature_Request Open Sessions Add an option on the timer to pause a session
    cause i am often disturb by other things.

    1. Thanks Ke!
      You can stop the timer in the context menu, and restart at any time youd like.

      The pause feature will allow the timer to stop in place and not be counted, though at the expense of losing/loosening the uninterruped session concept.
      Shmuel

  17. I just started using RR again to check few things. Surprise to find that command line execute to View the session report in HTML didn’t work instead it just launched RR. Is the command RapidReporter.exe –tohtml still valid? or I lost the nag of using it.

  18. Please order the comments in this page in decrescent time (with the newest on top)!

    waiting for Android version :)

  19. Shmuel,

    Thank you for this excellent tool, I am very excited to use it on the project I am test on. I like how you used one of Jon Bach’s session report for DecideRight to provide a sample session. I would like to use Jon’s sessions tool for SBTM metrics and analysis. The issue is that the sessions tool requires the reports to be in a specific format like hash tags before section headers. Is there a program that converts Rapid Reporter’s output into an acceptable input for the sessions tool that you are aware of? Thank you, Gabe

    1. Gable, thanks for your comment.
      That’s right, the reason I used Jon’s session as example for mine is that people learning from these examples can quickly step up to Rapid Reporter.

      We started to discuss the SBTM script on Twitter, but as the conversation there stopped and it is harder to follow, let’s try to keep it going here.
      We can try to transform our reports to the #format used in the perl script – technically all the information is there.
      Thinking on the end-purpose, what kind of metrics are you trying to get out of the script? Perhaps we can skip one step by generating them directly out of Rapid Reporter ou our CSV file.
      Shmuel

  20. Excellent tools!
    It will be even better to have the ability to add tests or report bugs to third party Tools such as Quality Center or Bugzilla.

    I wonder if you can opensource it or provide APIS to make it exentable?

    Thanks !

    1. Lucas, Rapid Reporter is already open source :) – you can find the at the links in the top (or clicking here).
      If you build an add-on like the one you mention, please share the results and the code, I’ll gladly consider adding it as part of the full app.

    1. Peter, unfortunately not yet.
      There’s a currently active effort to create a cross-platform version, as part of a joint work with an academic project. We don’t have a running version yet, but expect one in a few months.
      Thanks for the comment!

  21. Hi Shmuel,

    How are you? We met a few times in the testing conventions, I’m the guy who kinda looks like Jesus.

    Anyway my whole team has been using Rapid Reporter and loving it. Last time we met you asked me if I found any bugs, and I was kinda bummed that I hadn’t… but I finally found something that may qualify as a bug in RR!

    To reproduce you need to take notes as you change dates in Windows… at some point this causes RR to freeze as well as my whole PC.

    I guess this is probably a bug in Microsoft. But I thought you should know :)

    Cheers
    Ron

    1. Ron, thanks for your note.
      I can’t reproduce the crash you mention, but changing the system time messes up the timer and the timestamps.
      This is a good bug. We may be able to implement a self-paced time-tick instead of relying in Window’s clock.
      We may be able to fix the crash if I manage to reproduce it :). If you take a log in the form described at the “Troubleshooting Rapid Reporter” section of the user guide, it may be useful!

      I’m tracking this at http://testing.gershon.info/rapidreporter/versions.cgi/tktview/e8184079ec .

      Thanks for the nice note on the team liking Rapid Reporter.
      And you do look like current portrayals of Jesus, right :) .

  22. Hi,

    In order to expand the user group of rapid reporter it might be helpful if it handled upper asci chars (Umlaute like German ä,ö,ü) properly. After having entered Umlaute in rapid reporter and then opening the cvs File in Excel the Umlaute didn’t display properly. Neither does it work when converting the cvs to html. Only UltraEdit handled the cvs correctly as it detected the encoding as “U8-Unix”.
    Since Rapid Reporting is a windows tool, based on dot.net it would be helpful if it handled Umlaute etc in the windows way.
    As it currently is I need to open the cvs in UltraEdit first and then save it in a different encoding, so that opening in Excel and converting it to html renders the correct characters. As this is a bit of a pain as it includes extra steps I probably won’t be using Rapid Reporter.

    It looks like a great tool. Please make it more useful by enhancing the cvs encoding.

    1. Christoph,
      The latest version of Rapid Reporter supports unicode much better, and tests with ä,ö,ü, Æ, ☀, ☃, ☡, ☪, ♅… have been sucesful in the UI, the CSV, and the HTML.
      If you find an area where it’s still faulty, please let know again.
      Shmuel

  23. Hi, I’m promoting usage of your tool within the team I’m working in, since I find it very low profile and quick in usage. One small remark though: the screenshots taken always contain the yellow RapidReporter bar as well, which sometimes is anoying while making it diffcult to get everything on one shot. Is this something that can be altered? (Although it might be difficult for W7…)
    Best Regards

    1. Thanks for the commend Joel.
      Rapid Reporter has an ‘edited screenshot’ mode (press the screeshot button while pressing Shift). In this mode, Rapid Reporter window will not appear in the image.

      After your comment, I am thinking of adding a special configuration to set RapidReporter to disappear on screenshots. Won’t have it as default, because to do that the app blinks, and while it is inoffensive, it is a bit annoying. I’m tracking this idea here: http://testing.gershon.info/rapidreporter/versions.cgi/tktview/ae2187374b

  24. Hi…

    Our team just had a great SBET session during which I used your excellent tool…

    Just encountered a (minor) issue….

    With the (language/keyboard) settings on my system I usally get a quote sign (“) after pressing Shift+” and pressing the space bar. In your tool however I need to enter any character to get the ” in there, presssing the space bar will just give me the whitespace leaving the ” waiting for me to press any character-key

    (I hope I’ve made my issue clear enough, found it difficult to describe, feel free to contact me by mail)

    I twould be nice if that could be fixed :)

  25. Thanks for the latest updates Shmuel! The adjustable timer is even more awesome than it was before :)

  26. Hi Shmuel!

    Just starting to use RR again after a period away from it – some nice touches have been added!

    Quick one – has anyone mentioned about hotkeys for taking a screenshot or opening RTF notepad?

    I see Markus has requested hotkeys for changing the note types – not sure if the 2 are actually related though!

    Thanks again for putting this out there Shmuel!

    1. Hi Duncan!
      Rapid Reporter now has a hot-key (Ctrl-Alt-F9) for taking a screenshot. It is very useful when taking pics of hover-menus features or vanishing hot-tips.
      If the hot-key conflicts with a different app (unlikely but possible) it can be deactivated from the context-menu.

      Thanks for the nice comments and the suggestions!
      Shmuel

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