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For QA workstations preparation (Windows-based PCs) our IT department uses typical batch deployment tools. I'm not at all interested in the details of such process, but IT guys ask me:

What typical set of software you need for everyday *manual* testing tasks? We could include these in our deployment so that you guys could save more time for testing, not for environment prep & tuning.

Sure thing we do test various range of projects, from web applications to standalone solutions, and each application requires its own set of tools for manual testing, e.g.:

  • Browsers
  • Virtualization utilities
  • DB clients
  • Screens capturing tools
  • FTP clients
  • XML editors
  • etc.

However, and that's for sure - there's a list of tools every QA MUST have installed on its PC, regardless of project types under testing. My area of experience is mostly standalone / complex web apps, that's why my vision on the task is a bit subjective.

So, your suggestions of what are tools / software an average QA specialist can't live without will be highly appreciated. 2 assumptions:

  1. Manual testing is a point of interest.
  2. Let's limit list as not more than 15 (better 10) items.

Thanks in advance!

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14 Answers 14

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Assuming you exclude the systems used to execute the application-under-test (Operating System, Browser, etc) there are no tools a tester cannot live without. There are many tools that make testing stronger, more thorough, easier, faster, and/or more efficient.

We use bug tracking tools, text reading/editing/printing tools, document storage and retrieval tools for pretty much everything we do.

And we use lots more tools on many of the things we do. Here are some:

WinTask

http://www.wintask.com

We use WinTask for most of our website automation tasks, regression tests, etc. It's very easy to use, yet amazingly powerful.

BareTail

http://www.baremetalsoft.com/baretail/index.php

Our systems tend to have fairly comprehensive logs which provide a lot of useful information for analyzing the results of tests. BareTail makes it easy to watch several logs simultaneously, and highlight areas of interest.

BareGrep

http://www.baremetalsoft.com/baregrep/index.php

Our systems tend to have a lot of configuration files. BareGrep makes it easy to search through them and find the desired settings.

PL/SQL Developer

http://www.allroundautomations.com/plsqldev.html

We use this for pretty much all of our analysis of database activity, for creating test data, for testing stored procedures, etc.

WinMerge

http://winmerge.org/

Often our testing involves comparing the recent output to baselines. Sometimes the output comes from our system-under-test, sometimes the output is created during our automated tests. WinMerge makes comparison with the baseline, and analysis of the differences, very efficient.

SharePoint

http://sharepoint.microsoft.com

We keep our development and test assets (Requirements, Specs, Test Plans, Schedules, Checklists, etc) in SharePoint.

Bugzilla

http://www.bugzilla.org/

Our current bug-tracking tool of choice.

MWSnap

http://www.mirekw.com/winfreeware/mwsnap.html

We're currently using MWSnap for screenshots, typically for attaching to bug reports.

And here's another list of good tools we've used at times: http://www.allthingsquality.com/2010/04/testers-tool-box.html

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Thanks! The list is incredible, descriptions are nice - would +10 you if possible)) –  Peter L. Jan 31 '13 at 16:39
    
You are welcome! –  Joe Strazzere Jan 31 '13 at 19:32
    
Finally accept it as the most detailed and valuable suggestion. Thanks again! –  Peter L. Mar 11 '13 at 19:32
    
my pleasure. Thanks for accepting. –  Joe Strazzere Mar 11 '13 at 21:05
1  
@Gregor - you are the founder of Usersnap, right? –  Joe Strazzere Jul 12 '13 at 19:29

Some additional tools to the others (+1 to Phil and Joe, great suggestions) mentioned:

  • Mind Mapping tool (e.g. XMind)
  • Database Querying/Scripting tool (e.g. SQL Server Management Studio)
  • Screenshot Capturing tool (e.g. PicPick, windows problem step recorder)
  • Data Generation tool (e.g. www.generatedata.com)
  • Notepad++
  • Browser specific dev tool bars (e.g. firebug, IE dev toolbar etc.)
  • Combinatorial testing/pair-wise tools (e.g. AllPairs, PICT)
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1  
+1 for great suggestion, especially Notepad++ and www.generatedata.com! –  Peter L. Jan 31 '13 at 16:41
1  
I agree Notepad++ with XML addin is super useful for XML and configuration files. –  jtreser Feb 5 '13 at 17:32

I'll try not to repeat any of the tools already listed. Some that I use extensively that I don't see in other answers are:

  • Fiddler - http debugging proxy
  • Beyond Compare - diffing tool for files or folders
  • Perfmon, Filemon, Processmon - monitoring different parts of the SUT.
  • Snipping Tool - screenshots
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Nice add about *mons! –  Peter L. Feb 1 '13 at 7:05
    
+1 for the 'mons. I added the entire sysinternal suite, because there's so much more there valuable for testers. –  Alan Feb 2 '13 at 0:22

Jing (Screens capturing tools)

Small little tool that let's you record a short video of the screen. I personally use this when taking screenshots or attempting to explain an issue becomes difficult. The next best thing is to record the problem. It also saves the clip on the cloud so you don't have to worry about finding a location to host the video.

VirtualBox (Virtual Machine):

Definitely the most important tool that I use on a daily basis. Installed every single OS that we currently support and created several snapshots of the OS's in different states. Example, every OS has a snapshot when its first installed, so I can go back to a "brand new OS". Each OS also has a snapshot of the different SP's in case we need to go back and check if something changed in between SP releases. This way, I can test something and then revert it back whenever needed.

Evernote (Notes):

Another tool that I use on a daily basis. Keeps all my notes, none private customer information, to-do lists, etc.. Its really great as it syncs with all your devices. This way, I have access to my information on any device when I need it. Example, if I get an email asking about a particular issue that needs urgent attention, I can always take a look at my notes even if I am not in front of a machine.

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Kamil, are these free apps? If they are I'm definitely getting the first 2, and maybe the notes one too. –  corsiKa Jun 27 '13 at 15:42
    
corsiKa, Yup! VirtualBox is created by Oracle and is completely free. Jing and Evernote are also free but you can buy premium packages to add more space etc.. Been using the free versions for over 2 years and didn't need to update to premium yet. –  Kamil Jun 27 '13 at 15:49

You might think my answer is snarky but my brain, notebook and pen is pretty much all I need I do use other tools but none I consider 'essential'

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5  
I've seen some shops that don't appear to consider 'brain' as essential... ;-) –  Joe Strazzere Jan 31 '13 at 15:48
2  
My brain can't look inside a process and see which handles it has open :} –  Alan Feb 2 '13 at 0:18

I'd add the sysinternals suite to the mix - especially Process Explorer. Knowing how to use even a handful of the tools in the suite can help diagnose and discover a huge number of quality issues.

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+1 without any doubts. Thanks! –  Peter L. Feb 2 '13 at 6:46
    
Thanks Alan - great suggestion. –  aftershock9 Feb 4 '13 at 6:10

below is my addition to the list - tools I use very often during testing and preparations:

  1. Firebug addon for Firefox - for me it's a true *must-have* for web testing
  2. CRC/MD5 checksum creation / verification utility (I use QuickSFV, it's free and really quick)
  3. DB Clients:
    • SQLDeveloper (for Oracle)
    • SQL Server Management Studio (for MSSQL, was mentioned above)

Other tools I use are the same or similar to already listed.

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No doubts +1 for firebug. Thanks! –  Peter L. Feb 5 '13 at 20:04

One of the most important tools I use all the time is virtual machines. I have a library of different test environments saved and if I need to test something in any one of those environments I just fire up that VM. The ability to snapshot the virtual machine means that I can corrupt the environment and very easily come back to a pristine state.

I would hate to be a (manual) tester in a world without virtual machine capabilities...

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Hi Ron, thanks for the answer!.. What's the virtual platform you use most - VMware, VirtualBox or smth else? –  Peter L. Apr 19 '13 at 5:45
    
Welcome to SQA, Ron! I have to agree, when I was writing enterprise software, we had a VM for almost every combination we could think of. Different OS's, memory configurations, CPU configurations, security settings (an underpatched system is almost like a totally different OS from the same one patched!), etc. It helped flesh out a significant amount of bugs during automated testing, and its shining moment is helping respond to client support issues much faster. –  corsiKa Apr 19 '13 at 15:19

Peter, great topic. I'd list some other new apps, not mentioned eariler:

  1. Altova XML Spy - great in working / processing XML files
  2. Filezilla - good FTP client with SSH support
  3. Kitty - http://www.9bis.net/kitty/?page=Download - a small SSH client, we use in viewing server logs in real-time
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Thanks for the suggestions, Altova-similar advanced tool definitely should be in the short list. My +1! –  Peter L. Feb 4 '13 at 15:08

Remote access tools - Putty, WinSCP.

Mark.

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  1. Notepad++ is certainly the No.1 tool I need all the time :-)
  2. WMHelp XMLPad/Foxe/IE to read XML files.
  3. Lightshot as a printscreen utility.
  4. Webex recorder/Camstudio for screen record.
  5. Oracle SQL Developer to query database.
  6. Oh I need Wordweb also :-)
  7. HP Quality Center (Licensed)
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Thanks for the nice suggestions! –  Peter L. Feb 1 '13 at 7:05
    
Always welcome! –  Saik0 Feb 1 '13 at 7:35
  • Selenium+*Firefox* for recording/playback of web sessions
  • Cygwin for access to useful Unix-style tools (file, stat, lsof, bash, vim, nc)
  • JetBrains dotPeek to disassemble DLLs (I use this so that I can call methods from IronPython)
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Here's my current toolset for manual testing:

Browsers

For web apps, I can easily test on my main PC using the newest IE (currently IE10), Chrome, Firefox and Opera.

Virtual PC

For testing web apps on older versions of IE, the Virtual PC instances downloaded from microsoft do the job better than anything else.

Excel

For quickly making lists and grids of manual testcases.

Notepad++

For all kinds of text file manipulation; from drafting fault reports to examining XML outputs.

Microsoft SQL Management Studio

For creating test data, and verifying data changes.

Greenshot

For taking screenshots.

Paint.NET

For editing screenshots, highlighting and annotating relevant areas.

PFrank

For bulk renaming files; for example numbering a motley selection of files so I can clearly attach them to a fault report and refer to them precisely.

Team Foundation Server

For fault tracking.

CutePDF

For checking printouts without using paper.

Sizer

For changing windows to different precise sizes, to check app rendering.

Pencil

For drafting application mockups. That one's mostly relevant when discussing design changes with dev/pm.

Fiddler

For testing traffic to web sites.

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Thanks, the list is really nice! Liked Pencil and Sizer the most) As for the rest - use almost all of them, or at least familiar with. –  Peter L. Jun 21 '13 at 15:08

These are the tiny little tools yet effective for testing :

  • Perl Clip
  • Log watch
  • All pairs

See http://www.satisfice.com/tools.shtml.

Credits to James Bach

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welcome to SQA. The answer would be more useful if you provided specifics examples of the tools and how you have used them in the past. –  Dan Snell Jun 23 '13 at 18:09
    
The tools i specified has lots of benefits, as you asked i used perlclip for boundary testing, character validation purpose, etc. and you can view the website which i specified in the answer to get more details about it. The usage of the tools depends on your requirement. –  Vignesh Jun 24 '13 at 5:26

protected by Bruce McLeod Jul 2 '13 at 10:29

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