By Kaushal Amin
Uncovering bugs in a software package is the easy part of the job in QA. Finding those elusive bugs is only the beginning, because the development team still has to fix them and they can't be cleared until they've been retested.
In order to fix a bug the developer generally has to be able to reproduce it. A step-by-step written description of how to recreate a bug, no matter how detailed, leaves some room for error. When the developer can't reproduce the bug they'll often just mark the issue as "can't reproduce" and ask the QA manager to close it. In most cases, the so called "can't reproduce" bugs end up getting closed as due to no one being able to reproduce them. However, some of them eventually get found by the customer and at a much higher cost to the business.
If you want to ensure that such bugs aren't still lurking around then you need to record the precise steps to reproduce it and the easiest way to do that is to take screenshots, record videos, and capture all the vital details, including test environment (e.g. browser version, OS version, memory, etc.)
There are several tools on the market for QA departments or software developers seeking to help capture detailed bug descriptions. Let's compare three of the best and find out how they measure up.
Brought to you by Atlassian, Bonfire is a web plug-in that allows a tester to create an annotated screenshot based bug report directly from the browser. Using the browser extension a tester can also submit bugs directly from the web application being tested, with a record of the entire test session. It's designed to work with Atlassian's bug tracking software JIRA.
The focus here is clearly on improving QA and testers will welcome the inclusion of bug report templates, which can be set up in advance for individual projects to help to achieve consistency. It is also capable of capturing important system information of the test environment and even automatically capturing dynamic variables like the page URL.
Bonfire offers basic editing options for your screenshots but the output is directly to JIRA; you can't export separately. This close integration is good and bad. If you use JIRA then it's worth considering but if not, then you won't want to look at Bonfire. It's also limited to testing of only web applications, thus, it is not suitable for testing of native Windows applications.
You can purchase Bonfire as a cloud service on demand, hosted by Atlassian, or you can download and install it on your own server. A 25-user license runs at $600 including 12 months of maintenance. The cloud option is attractive at $120 per year for 10 users.
For the latest pricing and product information, please visit their website at http://www.atlassian.com/software/bonfire/overview.
qTrace from QA Symphony is a ready-set-go option. Once the tester clicks the start button the tool unobtrusively produces an intelligent record of every mouse-click, keystroke and screen the tester went through along with a capture of all system information and any detailed notes (annotations) the tester wants to add.
Every aspect of the bug report can be edited and the end result can be exported as a Word, PDF or JPG file. You can also email the export directly from the tool. The tool also provides support for directly submitting bug reports into several bug tracking systems.
Experienced and novice testers alike will find this tool easy to learn and use. Testers can configure hotkeys, dictate the bug report format and automatically capture information for a smooth and speedy testing session. The tool also provides flexibility to record user actions for a specific application being tested or all applications that the tester is using, which is useful during integration testing between multiple applications. Testers can also edit the steps that appear in the finished report so only the important information gets included.
One of the big selling points for qTrace is the integration with several bug tracking softwares, which includes Assembla, FogBugz, VersionOne, Rally, TFS, Jira, Bugzilla, HP QC, and qTest. qTrace also provides open APIs to allow integration with other unsupported bug tracking software.
A free version of qTrace is available but if you intend to plug it into a bug tracking software then you'll be limited to submitting three bugs per day. If you want to disable ads and watermarks and enjoy the full benefits of priority support, then the Pro version is worth the option.
A 10-user license runs at $490 per year. At $49 per license per year qTrace Pro is competitively priced for the functionality and out of box integration that it offers. That license allows installation on up to three machines and includes annual support and upgrades.
For the latest pricing and product information, please visit their website at http://www.qasymphony.com/qtrace-overview.html.
This versatile screen capture tool from TechSmith is a popular option among many. It's primarily aimed at the consumer market as an easy way to create screenshots and videos of your desktop, which you can then annotate and email. This mass market approach means that the software is very accessible and easy to use. It features a range of preset profiles for capturing your entire desktop or specific regions and then sharing the screenshots or video files with others.
There are plenty of basic editing tools so that you can highlight portions of an image, combine multiple captures and add basic effects or text. Storage can be automated and you can export to various formats including Word, PDF and JPG. You can also tag and automatically store your captures and send them directly from the software by email.
Like any configurable software, you'll get more from Snagit if you customize it. You can set up the hotkeys for quick operation and get your workflow automated. Although it's being sold as a general purpose screen capture tool, Snagit can be integrated with the bug tracking software FogBugz.
You can try the software for free for 30 days but after that it will cost you $49.95 per license. You can get discounts the more licenses you buy in bulk. A ten-user copy will set you back $299.50, for example, and for 25 users you're looking at $623.75.
For the latest pricing and product information, please visit their website at http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.html.
What's the Best Choice?
Budget, versatility, and usability are going to weigh heavy in the minds of any potential purchaser. Snagit is nice and straightforward for grabbing screenshots and videos of anything on your computer but it lacks the depth of functionality needed by a tester. Bonfire is limited by the integration with JIRA only and it does not provide support for native Windows applications testing, but the cloud management is a plus. In my opinion, qTrace is the most versatile and comprehensive solution as it supports multiple bug tracking software, supports both the web and non-web based applications testing, and is reasonably priced.
Kaushal Amin is Chief Technology Officer for KMS Technology a software development firm with 300 employees and offices in Atlanta and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.