August 6th, 2012 by Sam Vanderpol

Capture pictures for faster and better QA reports

I try to keep a finger on the pulse of the testing world. As QA lead at Fog Creek, I need to know what tools may be helpful to us, what technologies people are using, and what methodologies are considered best practice for manual and automated testing.

If we see something interesting we experiment with it, and if it doesn’t make the team better, we drop it, but in the process we’ve picked up a little wisdom.

We do a lot more dropping than we do adopting; after all there are more ways of failing then there are of succeeding. Most products we try don’t make the cut, but recently we came across one that did: qTrace.

The people at QA Symphony asked us to take a look at qTrace, their new QA tool that works a bit differently than anything else we’ve tried.

So what is qTrace? QBert’s distant cousin? No! Even better! qTrace is an image capturing tool on Windows that grabs images of bugs, annotates them, and submits the report to your bug tracker. (It integrates with FogBugz: submit a case with just the click of a few buttons without needing to go through the FogBugz interface.)  Cool? Yeah. Radically different from existing products? Not exactly, but qTrace does one thing that has won us over, and saved the QA team a ton of time.

Automatically capture images

qTrace captures a series of images triggered by page loads and new events occurring on the page. Every single step is automatically captured. So rather than just a screen shot of a bug, you’ve now got every single step that led up to the bug. This also means that instead of the reams of lengthy prose you write to describe what happened to trigger the bug, you can now annotate a series of pictures. You don’t have to assemble these from a screen grab tool. You don’t have to manually describe each step: It’s all recorded in the right order, and you just need to add a few notes to the automatically numbered steps in the recording. This can be sent straight into your bug tracker or made into a pdf or Word document.

That isn’t all though. qTrace also automagically pulls relevant information about the system you are testing on (OS, browser, processor speed, and lots more). Don’t want it to list these specs in your report? No problem, just a click to exclude that data.

The question with every tool we look at is simple: Does it make the team better? Does it make us more efficient? Without a doubt qTrace does. It became part of our process right away because the time saving was immediately obvious.

We love it

It is the best image capturing tool I have used since working at Fog Creek (including our own!), has the most extensive feature list, covers the largest amount of use cases, and is as easy to use as any software I have ever played with.

And it works seamlessly as a FogBugz plugin.

So if you write software that you test, and you use a Bug Tracker (qTrace is nice enough to integrate with a number of different trackers) and you are looking for ways to improve your workflow, communication, bug report quality and efficiency, give qTrace a try, you’ll probably like it!