A problem that has plagued development teams for a long time is the difficulty of explaining the exact steps to replicate an issue. There have been a variety of attempts to solve this thorny issue, and the most recent that I’ve encountered is qTrace from QASymphony. It turns out this product is very easy to use and does an excellent job at helping teams see the exact order of steps needed to reproduce an issue. I will show you want it takes to record an issue with qTrace and share it with your team.

Note: QASymphony provided me with a full license to the product for review purposes.

Once you install qTrace and run it, it places a discrete control panel on the right-hand side of your screen (you can make it shrink and move it up and down, but not put it on any other screen side) (Figure A).
Figure A

The qTrace control panel

With this control panel, you can start your recording, open an existing one, make a note in the recording, or take a picture. The big red button starts a recording. Once recording has started, the big red button is “pause” button for the recording, and the small square next to it is the “stop” button for the recording. When you start recording, you are asked which applications you want to include in the recording.

When you stop recording, your actions and screen shots are pushed into the editor (Figure B). In the editor, you can remove screens and steps as needed. As you can see in the example (Figure C), each click is recorded on the screenshot so that you can see exactly what the user did.
Figure B

The qTrace recording editor (Click the image to enlarge.)

Figure C

Closeup of the screen shots (Click the image to enlarge.)

On the left is the list of screens and steps. You can edit here, like deleting screens or steps that are not relevant, add notes, or rearrange the order of things. Wherever possible, the information for the steps is richer than “clicked here,” it will have things such as, “selected menu item ‘Open File'” and “minimize window,” which is quite useful to “connect the dots” between the clicks and what the user was actually doing. The most important feature is the ability to save the test, either as a qTrace file for opening in qTrace again, or more importantly, as a Word DOCX, PDF, or JPEG file for sharing with others. qTrace can also hook into Bugzilla, HP Quality Center, or JIRA, and more should hopefully be on the way soon.

qTrace is a good example of a tool that does a specific task very well; it certainly works well enough to more than justify its low purchase price ($49 for one unit license). I could also see it being an excellent way to put together training materials.