Archimedes remarked: “Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the earth”– Such is the power of tools. When the right lever comes along, no planet is big enough that it can’t be lifted like a ball of cotton.
Sure, we know a lot about tools. At STH we have researched and put together elaborate list of Bug tracking, test management, pen testing, and the other specialized automation tools. We agree and understand the importance of them. However, this article is not going to be about that.
What You Will Learn:
Below, we are going to talk about 5 common-to-use tools that are required in a software tester’s toolkit to make life easier:
- Microsoft Excel
- Screen capture and annotator software
- Compressor and de-compressor software
- Sticky note software
- Paper and pen/pencil
#1. Microsoft Excel:
This is a blessing for us testers. See below example of Microsoft Excel used for writing test cases:
- The row-column format of an Excel spreadsheet is a perfect fit for our needs. Whether it is for a requirements list, detailed test cases or bug reports these are just great.
- The strong mathematical orientation renders itself for easy metric collection, calculations and graphical presentation.
- An excel workbook also can have multiple sheets so that we have all we need at one place, yet with a mechanism to cleanly organize information into different pages.
- Easily expandable and collapsible.
- Many tools support the import of data from excel making the transition to test/bug management tools easy.
I could go on and on about this, but you get the picture.
Note: You can even use free version of Microsoft Excel online.
#2. Screen capture and Annotator:
There is no better way to solve a crime than catching the criminal red handed, right? We testers need evidence to raise a defect. Also, the more information we provide to prove the point, the better. What could be better proof than a screenshot!
A tool that will help us capture the screen in a high definition, yet memory efficient image is a huge plus. If this tool even lets us mark and highlight the defect – even better.
See below example of screen capture using a free tool:
These are some of the tools you could try:
- Paint.net (I personally use this and I like it a lot)
- qSnap: Check out our article here. Also check latest qTest eXplorer.
In the absence of these tools, Microsoft paint or Microsoft Word are good alternatives. They are a little bit more work, but they do their job.
In some case we might have to go beyond the pictures and include a video clipping showing the exact sequence of steps executed and the results that were obtained on the AUT. A tool like CamStudio – screen recoding software, might come in handy.
#3. Compressor and de-compressor:
We testers also indulge in a lot of document sharing on a daily basis. In case of sending multiple files as a single (compressed) file or compressing a file for memory efficiency or when we need to open a file that is sent to us compressed, we use some sort of compressor & de-compressor software.
Here are some tools of this category:
Some of these tools are even open source, so give them a try and have one handy – chances are you would need them sooner than later.
#4. Sticky notes software:
Sticky notes are one of the best inventions known to humans, if you ask me. They are handy, efficient, colorful and versatile. What’s more, there is software that lets us keep sticky notes on our desktops. Great stuff!
These serve as informal reminders, checklists, to-do lists, etc. Check out the list below:
Most of the tools in this genre are free. Find what speaks to you and use away….
#5. Paper and Pen/Pencil:
Call me old-fashioned but I still believe in the power of written word (literally ‘written’).
Reaching for a paper and pen to scribble an out line to a problem or draw a system’s architecture or calculate something or make a list or simply to doodle during a meeting, this hands-down is number 1 most needed tool.
It is most organic to who we are as people and individuals.
I still reach out for a paper and a pen when I get asked a question, even in an interview. It is easier to explain while drawing/writing than it is to paint a picture only through words.
Also, it’s a welcome break from staring long hours into the bright computer screens. :)
But, if you would rather have a soft document and not fuss with physical objects, Notepad might be your best friend. Check out the latest in the notepad world at this page.
TextPad is similar to notepad but comes with additional text editing capabilities- so that is an option too.
Sure, as hard core QAs these tools do not add to our resumes or change on our career’s direction or do anything major at all. But wouldn’t you agree that our day-to-day tasks would be that much more difficult without them.
Over to you:
What are the common non-QA tools that you find are inevitable in your day to day duties? What’s your ‘go-to’ tool(s) of choice in the categories we discussed in this article?
Please let us know your comments and questions below.
About Author: This article is written by STH team member and our manual testing course instructor Swati S.