13 Sep

Rapid Reporter, Exploratory notetaking tool - Exclusive premiere for EuroStar Blogs, by Shmuel Gershon

13 September 2010 by Shmuel Gershon

I'm proud to blog about this in public for the first time, and you get it here first at EuroStar blog ;).

For the past months I've been polishing a personal tool for exploratory notetaking called Rapid Reporter, a tool that was used successfully for Session Based Test Management (SBTM) within my team and by friends.
Today it reaches version 1.0 (versions are date-based so we're actually at and is ready for public distribution.

If you are not acquainted with exploratory notes, let me brief you:
Exploratory testing relies heavily in taking comprehensive notes. As you advance uncovering new (or rediscovering old) areas you take notes of what you learn and observe, and these notes help you make sense of the software or problem. With this information you can decide on your next area to test and the next strategy: Simultaneous test design, execution and learning. Learn more about exploratorty notes here.
In Session Based Management, these notes are further used together with a peer or leader or manager to analyse the tests done in one testing session and pick the desired area to test (called a charter) in the next session. Learn more about SBTM here.
I'll cover SBTM in more details in a future blog post at EuroStar.

SBTM has a suggested format for the notes, and there are a few tools that follow the format strictly. However, we found out that leaving the note formatting to the application instead of the tester works much better.
My personal experience is that by removing features and adding ease of use, the notes are of more value.

The application is free and open source, why don't you give it a try? (note: Windows only, .NET 3.5 required).

This is how Rapid Reporter works:

  1. Download and run from your working folder (no installation needed!)
  2. Enter a tester's name and a charter.
  3. Start entering notes. You can change the type of the note easily by pressing the up/down arrows on the fly.
  4. Add screenshots by pressing the 'S' button.
  5. Add persisten extended rich text notes by pressing the 'N' button.

That's basically it. All the note handling and organization is done by the software behind he scenes, and you can manipulate it with Excel.

Very easy, right?
If you need more flexibility, the application still lets you change the session time (right-click context menu), the names used for note types (just add yours as command line arguments) and other functions that you can see at the user guide and the first steps tutorial.

Give it a try and let me know your experiences.
I've setup a download page at my website that will have the latest version of the app and documents available constantly.

Good luck and I hope the tool empowers you to take better notes and make better tests! :)


8 comment(s) for “Rapid Reporter, Exploratory notetaking tool - Exclusive premiere for EuroStar Blogs, by Shmuel Gershon”

  1. Gravatar of Ajay Balamurugadas
    Ajay Balamurugadas Says:
    Thanks Shmuel,

    I have started using this tool. I'll let you know soon how much this tool helped or what problems I faced.
  2. Gravatar of Shmuel Gershon
    Shmuel Gershon Says:
    Thanks a lot Ajay!
  3. Gravatar of Michel Kraaij
    Michel Kraaij Says:
    Did you know your tool was used in a Weekend Testing session?

    Here is the chat transcript:
  4. Gravatar of Shmuel Gershon
    Shmuel Gershon Says:
    Michel, thanks for the comment!
    Yes, I was contacted by the WT guys.

    And they provided a lot of great feedback ever since. The new version of the application already includes many fixes and suggestions by them. :)
  5. Gravatar of Moshe
    Moshe Says:
    I tried your tool at work and more pepole saw me using it.
    it as a greate success here at work and it became our main Validation documentation tool, we can understand how we managed without it.
    but maybe you could pick another GUI colors, but this is just my opinion.

    Thanks alot for sharing with the community

  6. Gravatar of Anna
    Anna Says:
    As one who worked with the tool I must say that it is very useful and helpful tool. It helped me to plan and organize my testing sessions. The tool also allows a clear and user friendly way to share the tests results. When I use the tool I don’t need to write long descriptions. It makes my testing process easier. My technical lead liked the tool very much. He would like me to use it in our everyday work. Thank you Shmuel .
  7. Gravatar of Shmuel Gershon
    Shmuel Gershon Says:
    @ Moshe:
    I know you don't like the colors, but asking here too won't help: Not changing the background. Yellow is the essence of Rapid Reporter :) .
  8. Gravatar of Shmuel Gershon
    Shmuel Gershon Says:
    @ Anna, thanks for writing here!

    I think I should add a comment to yours...
    Readers of this blog post, meet Anna. Anna works on my team, and was the inspiration for the first version of Rapid Reporter. Was also the first user, too, and I am inclined to say that almost every feature on it was done by thinking "what would be more helpful to Anna?".
    So I guess we should all thanks her :)

    And I am guilty as charged of motivating her (and other testers) day-to-day use of the application. :)

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