Thursday, September 27, 2012

Test Tool: BB TestAssistant

BB TestAssistant is a desktop recording, editing, and viewing tool for the Windows platform designed to aid tester and developer in defect submission and reproduction.  It was developed by UK-based Blueberry Software as a tester/developer oriented version of their Flashback consumer recording software.  The concept is simple: a tester runs the recorder, reproduces the defect, and submits the resulting file to the developer who then can review a step-by-step process from the tester's perspective.

While a recording may not be necessary for every scenario of defect reproduction, the technology has many practical applications.  Video capture helps recreate exactly what was going on in the event of a difficult to reproduce or rare bug.  Certain visual defects can be difficult to summarize in just a series of screen shots.  The software creates an easy to use visual demonstration of user input, logging keystrokes and mouse clicks and can even toggle sound and webcam recording to cover anything that words cannot describe.  User notes and editing tools like watermarks and highlights further enhance the post-processing to make sure that the developer will not miss out on any relevant data.

BB TestAssistant features a flexible set of user preferences.  File size and recording codecs can be tweaked to allow greater compatibility with older machines.  User notes can be added at any time during recording and editing during post-processing if necessary.  The user can choose between full screen, select window, or regional recording to remove irrelevant data or protect sensitive information.  To further streamline defect submission, the application includes JIRA and TRAC bug tracker integration so that recordings that be uploaded and submitted as you go.  While these two are the only trackers to be natively integrated, the API is open and can be modified for other tracking systems as well.  All recordings will automatically extract detailed characterization of the test configuration and package it into the final product.

Though the toolbar may look daunting to some, editing video is easy and intuitive.
Perhaps one of the most important features is logging support. In the current version of the software, all logging is external, meaning BB TestAssistant does none of the logging natively (with the exception of human interface input).  This means that for whatever application is under test, that application must have either have its own logging system or the user must utilize a third party logger.  BB TestAssistant can integrate the OS native Windows Event Viewer.  This tool can be useful depending on the desired log data but is limited to what can be seen at the OS level.  This kind of functionality is great for testing the parts of applications and other software that communicate directly with the OS, but is less applicable to test scenarios like websites.  The logging itself can be helpfully synced to video timestamps, linking the events within the log to the keystroke and mouse presses of the user.

In case the developer does not use BB TestAssistant, test recordings can be formatted to a number of more common file types including Shockwave Flash, Windows Media, PowerPoint, and others.  When using these formats the developer only receives simple video.  In this case some of the more extensive features such as configuration data and external log data cannot be integrated and must be submitted separately.

When not entirely integrated, BB TestAssistant remains useful as a supplementary tool for defect management. However, once properly integrated into a tracking system, the software provides a simple yet effective method for defect review with the potential to greatly aid the tester/developer dynamic.

You can read more about the developer and its products, including a free trial of the BB TestAssistant tool here and here.

2 comments:

Ron Starc said...

I use My Screen Recorder Pro to do the exact same procedure. A unique feature is that My Screen Recorder Pro will keep a rolling recording of the last 10 minutes of my work, so that if I find an error, I simply click save to save a video of whatever I was doing for the past 10 minutes.

rekhila said...

Clearly explained about BB Test assistant.Its more informative.Its easy to learn also.Thank you for sharing
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