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[Review] qTrace Defect Documentation Tool by QASymphony


Written by  Victor Cruz | 29 May 2012
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qtraceDuring the last couple of days I had the opportunity to try out qTrace, a bug documentation tool recently released by QASymphony, a provider of software testing tool. Being a tester who spends most of my time executing test cases and reporting bugs, any tool that helps improve my productivity is worth trying out.

In a nutshell, qTrace helps testers capture and edit information required to reproduce a bug, generate bug reports and submit them to a chosen bug tracker. Previously, all these steps required a lot more of a manual effort on testers and the use of several different tools, from screen capturing tools to image editing tools, word processing software and bug tracker client UI, etc.

These tools can now be replaced by qTrace as a standalone desktop application. This review looks at some features of qTrace and highlights the most important.

At a high-level, this is how I use qTrace to support my testing:

  • I select the application(s) to be tested for bug reporting
  • I test the application(s) using predefined test cases or exploratory testing
  • qTrace runs in the background and records all screens and interaction, e.g., mouse clicks, key strokes, etc.
  • At any time, I can take notes using qTrace
  • When finding a bug, I stop qTrace so that it will launch an editor for me to see and annotate screens, steps and notes.   qTrace allows me to include information about the current test machine and application(s) under test to the bug record.
  • When I am ready, I can submit the bug directly to one of the supported trackers

To try out qTrace, go to QASymphony’s website and download the free 30-day trial version.  After a  straighqtracetforward installation process, launching qTrace will show a control panel on the right edge of the screen, ready to accept inputs. 

 Click the big red button to start qTrace’s capturing session.  Now, if you are testing a web application, you will select the browser you want to use.  Otherwise, select the desktop application you want to test.  You also have the option to select more than one application or the entire desktop altogether.

 After selecting applications, you can perform testing on them as you would normally do without qTrace.  Except that once in a while, you might add some note.


Once you find a bug, stop qTrace to launch the editor, which shows all the screens, steps and notes very intuitively.  I almost instantly knew how to use it the first time without reading the user manner.  What’s impressive is that qTrace can capture every single screen and action taken, including detailed information about each control including its type (button, menu item, textbox, etc.) and name.  The locations where the actions were taken place were also visualized accurately in the editor, making it very easy to reproduce the defect.

 

qtrace

You can do several things with the editor, including:

  • Add, delete and edit the screens, steps and notes
  • Annotate screenshots with various tools like callout, rectangle, arrow, crop, blur etc.  The “blur” functionality is particularly cool.  If you have sensitive information that you need to keep confidential, you can “blur” them out completely.
  • Include or exclude screens from the bug report.  Sometimes a few screens are enough for others to read and understand the bug, so you don’t want to send extra bytes to the tracker.
  • You can also choose to include automatically captured system and application information that includes hardware, browsers, OS, User and other details.  This is very useful when reporting bugs that might be caused by (or only happen under) a certain environment configuration.

Once you finish the editing, you have a variety of options:

  • Submit the bug to a bug tracker
  • Share the bug via email
  • Save the bug as PDF, Word or JPG images
  • Save the recording for later editing into a .trace file

    qtrace

The first option is probably one testers will use most frequently.  If this is the first time you submit a bug, you will have to go to Settings screen to configure qTrace with information to connect to your bug tracker.  The latest version

 

of qTrace as of this writing, 1.1.0.15, supports the following trackers: Jira, VersionOne, Bugzilla, HP Quality Center, Microsoft Team Foundation Server and qTest (a new Test Management Tool also by QASymphony). Here, I used VersionOne so I needed to input URL, user name and password for qTrace to connect to my VersionOne project.

 

In the editor, click the Submit button to launch the screen below.

qtrace

Now you can click Submit and finish.  But if you want, you can add more fields and even custom fields for certain trackers like VersionOne.   Clicking the Manage Fields button will give you this screen:

qtrace

You can choose to show/hide fields, add custom field, retrieve latest values of Dropdown-type fields and enter default value for each field.  Here, I chose to show the Owners and Found in Build fields and hide the Iteration field.  Saving the changes will affect the submission screen immediately.  The interesting thing is that these changes are persisted for subsequent submissions, so I don’t have to repeat myself next time.

qtrace

Once submitting, qTrace shows me a link to navigate to the bug record in VersionOne website.

The bug report is attached as a Word document (or PDF or JPG, depending on your setting) which includes selected screenshots, steps to reproduce, notes and information about the test machine and application(s) under test.

In conclusion, I highly recommend qTrace for testers who want to save a significant amount of time in thoroughly documenting their bugs in a way that developers can easily reproduce and other testers can use as test scripts.  I think with the license cost of $50 per year, my investment in qTrace will probably break even within a week.

Pros:

  • Very intuitive user interface; can be immediately used without reading the user guide
  • Thoroughly and accurately captures all interactions by users; it didn’t miss any of my actions
  • Ability to select applications to be captured, as opposed to entire desktop
  • Includes information about the test machine and applications
  • Comprehensive integration with bug trackers (even if you don’t want any other feature of qTrace, this feature alone is really useful as a universal bug submitter)

Cons:

  • Runs on Windows only
  • Doesn’t offer a free-style pen tool so that I can draw things quickly on the screens
  • Doesn’t allow changes to the bug report template
  • File size could be too big if exporting with highest image quality option
Victor Cruz

Victor Cruz

Victor Cruz is a writer whose articles have appeared in American Venture, Cloud Computing Journal, CommPro.biz, CSO Magazine, Communications News, Computer Technology Review, Dev Tech, eSecurity Planet, Harvard Review, and Medical Design Technology. He has advised some 50 IT companies in the past 20 years on their marketing strategies.

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