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

  • 13/09/2010
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

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 persistent 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! :)

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