Should we take notes in a simple text file or should we take it in a fancy Excel sheet?

How can we take effective notes that can be helpful while revisiting a testing module or application?

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    Seems like a reasonable question to me, not sure why so many downvotes and close votes. – c32hedge May 28 '19 at 13:02
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    I didn't feel like the question was answerable, as it wasn't a "here is my problem, what is the solution" type question... but your post has proven me wrong! Retracted. – trashpanda May 28 '19 at 14:05
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    This is a valid question, Note taking can be a very important underrated skill for a QA so... Retracted – Nitin Rastogi Jun 7 '19 at 8:14

It really comes down to who is consuming the information contained in your notes and what that information will be used for. If your testing found a bug, for example, you would likely want to write up steps to reproduce, information about your environment, and other information that would help find and fix the bug. If you are reporting on what you tested to management, you might jot down things you tested, things you didn't test, and potential problems you found. If the notes are for your own purposes, another thing you might want to include are ideas for future testing.

As for format, again, it really comes down to what is most helpful for you and your consumers. If you find that an Excel spreadsheet or some other template is helpful for organization, by all means, use it! On the other hand, if there isn't a need for a lot of formal documentation, you might find it's better to keep it simple and find a format that provides value without imposing a lot of documentation burden.

Here are a couple of resources that might be helpful:

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    I think you hit the most important point for format. If the information you gather winds up in a place that isn't useful for people consuming it then you're limiting its usefulness. How a tester take their notes before this point is whatever makes the most sense for them. – Cherree May 28 '19 at 13:39

Should we take notes in a simple text file or should we take it in a fancy Excel sheet?

I am used to carrying a notebook with me, It's my childhood practice. I believe as a human being I can't remember every point, I discussed with the teammates. I have all the things with me like a personal digital assistant, laptop, desktop, Personal Server, Personal cloud, Smartphone...etc then why use notebooks?

  • They are portable & easy to have consistently available.
  • They never crash.
  • They never forget to auto-save.
  • They remember my mistakes.
  • They don't have batteries.
  • You don’t have to turn them ON/Off.

How can we take effective notes that can be helpful while revisiting a testing module or application?

When I take notes, I keep a few points in my mind.

  • Never believe that you can remember any small point.
  • Don't write down every single word.
  • Focus on important points.
  • Be a Good listener/reader.
  • Use abbreviations or short-hand writing.
  • Use multiple colours of different context.
  • Revise your notes as early as possible.
  • Be consistent on key points & topic.
  • Forget spelling and grammar.
  • Duplicate notes are allowed.

How can a software tester improve their note-taking skills while doing exploratory testing?

Excel provides helpful structure. Note books have the advantages Nitin has outlined.

In terms of improving note-taking skills beyond those two factors:

  • Consider using a voice recorder plus voice transcribing software (which has improved greatly)
  • Have a quick way to do screenshots. Use desktop integration that automates cloud uploads
  • Use a tool that lets you mark up ('draw on') screenshots with arrows, circles, underlines, etc
  • Learn the business domain well so that notes reflect it when you use them to communicate
  • Consider using markdown format which is simple for plain text editing with formatted output
  • Use a cloud storage solution for notes, e.g. dropbox, so you can access one truth anywhere
  • Ask a friend to review. Just like code, notes can improve by learning from others input
  • Avoid IDEs or non-plain text solutions that will 'require' you to use a specific product
  • Consider maintaining a wiki with guidelines and examples for exploratory testing
  • Create a file structure that will allow you to categorize information over time
  • Proofread and edit your notes several times to improve their quality
  • +1 for explaining the usage of digital notes. – Nitin Rastogi Jun 13 '19 at 3:16

When we are performing exploratory testing in a software qa company there are many areas that a tester validates. In-order to make effective notes below mentioned points can be useful:

  1. Write one liner test cases whenever a scenario is validated.
  2. Always focus on important functional areas first.
  3. Prioritize the notes i:e Critical, Major Minor.
  4. Excel would be more useful as it provides Rows and Columns and helps in creation of tabular format.
  5. Screencast should be created for the notes that are scenario based and are unique.

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