Keeping Test Notes
Keeping test notes is one of the most helpful habits I’ve developed. It clears my mind, documents parts of my testing and ideas, and keeps track of found problems and issues.
I think there’s no need to go fancy, a simple text format with a few sections works fine.
Over past few years, I’ve experimented with various simple formats, even found some online that I’ve adjusted and adopted to various degrees.
One of the simplest format I currently use is the following Markdown format. A template looks like this:
## Potential problems
## Testing issues
## Other test ideas
It really is simple, I don’t want to overstructure it. Perhaps some other sections would work for other purposes or on different projects. However, this is just ideal for my exploratory sessions nowadays.
Let’s see a little bit more detail:
- every such Markdown document has a title that reflects what I’m focusing on during the testing session
- I put the majority of my notes into
Notessection, including start and finish time, environment setup, etc.
Potential problemsare things that look like bugs to me when I stumble upon them. These can later become real bugs the team will solve.
Testing issuesare things I struggle with during the testing. These are things that prevent me from performing as good a testing as possible. Testability issues can come in here.
Other test ideasare things I notice would deserve more testing but are out of scope for my current session. I’ll likely get to these in later sessions.
It’s a very lean format. No need to overstructure it in my current context. Markdown can also include pictures:
so I can include screenshots and the like as well.
All that — Markdown files and pictures — can be version controlled in git or other system. So if someone needs to gain more visibility into what I’ve been doing, they can easily look it up. Some management systems like Jira also support Markdown, so I can even copy&paste it in there if that’s needed.
What is your favourite format for keeping test notes?
I’ve also experimented with mind maps, but I find them a worse format than textual notes. Mind maps work fine for me if I need to create a mind map of, for example, product features, or areas I want to focus on in my testing. But for actual test notes, I find textual format with screenshots much more useful and informative.
Another similar format I used in the past is this one from my testing repo on GitHub. It has more sections and looks a bit more formal, so I’d perhaps use it in different situations, not when the notes are mostly created for myself.