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Product Review: qTrace Screen Capture and Bug Reporter

Version 2.5 of qTrace has just been released by QASymphony

Anything that can speed up software development by taking the pain out of tracking down bugs and fixing them is a boon for developers. There are several enterprise-level systems available for defect capture, tracking, and reporting. In addition to these systems, there are specialized tools that help capture screenshot, writing steps to reproduce defects, and generating bug report details. Usually you would expect to use combinations of these specialized tools along with an enterprise defect tracking system to achieve a comprehensive quality assurance workflow for reporting defects, but qTrace is aiming to be all-in-one tool.

Version 2.5 of qTrace has just been released by QASymphony and it's built as intelligent screen capture software with auto generated bug report details. Let's take a closer look at what it can do.

Benefits of qTrace
If you sign up via the QASymphony website you can download and activate your free version of qTrace. Installation is quick and the application has a light footprint in terms of system resources. The application is up and running in a few minutes.

You access qTrace via a small menu on the right of your screen which is minimized by default for minimal distraction. You can drag it to place it wherever you want on your screen. There's a big start-stop button for record capture to make it easy to control a recording session. There are other settings to choose from in the menu which are normally hidden to save screen real-estate. The menu layout is clear, intuitive, and easy to follow.

In essence qTrace allows you to record all your interactions with a specific application (such as your Web browser) or even with a group of applications (any Windows application that is running). You can capture just a screenshot or use the record mode to capture a sequence of screen flows. In the capture screenshot mode, you can snap the full screen or capture specific areas of the application. When you use the recording mode, you'll be prompted to select which applications you want to record, or you can just record everything on your desktop.

When you want to stop recording you simply hit the stop button and the qTrace editor pops up allowing you to annotate screenshots, add a bug title and description, edit the user actions recorded, and submit the bug report directly to a defect tracking system or email it. qTrace supports several of the popular defect tracking systems out-of-the-box to make submitting of bug reports easy as a single click. You can also export bug reports as a Word file, PDF or JPEG which is very useful in case your particular defect tracking system is not supported by qTrace.

The bug report details recorded by qTrace even includes details about your system hardware, operating system, browser version, and application details. One interesting piece of information that you might want to see is a timestamp of the recording.

Who is it for?
qTrace tool is intended to be a bug report details capture tool for software testers and developers and it shines in that role. The fact that you can record every key testing step taken, along with screenshots of results across multiple applications, makes it ideal for recording software bug report details. The seamless integration with key defect tracking systems such as HP Quality Center, Microsoft TFS, Bugzilla, FogBugz, VersionOne, and JIRA, is a major plus.

While qTrace is a great tool for recording QA defects it could be useful for other tasks. It can easily be extended to be used by customers in submitting UAT and production defect details that development teams can use to turn around defect fixes quickly. The ability to record every step in a process and annotate it makes qTrace a potentially powerful tool for creating tutorials, training manuals or walkthroughs. IT departments could use qTrace to document everything from an important software upgrade to a virus removal procedure.

The potential for tutorials is endless because qTrace could be used to create easy-to-follow instructions for various application scenarios and output formats supported by WordPress or Photoshop.

Limits to Free Version
As a professional QA tool for recording complex defects, qTrace is excellent. The free tool is fairly comprehensive, but if you want to hook it up to a defect tracking system then you are limited to reporting three defects per day with the free version. You need the Pro version to remove that limit and it costs $49 per year for a license. That fee will also disable ads and entitle you to priority support.

Worth getting?
The free version of qTrace is effectively fully featured, so there's no reason not to test drive it for yourself. QASymphony is continually improving the application, as evidenced by the 2.5 release. You'll be hard pressed to find a better solution for capturing defects.

More Stories By Kaushal Amin

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 [email protected]

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