I wonder if anyone have experience of a tool for session-based testing?

Nowadays we use SharePoint lists where we can write down our session plus other relevant info about the session (requirement, environment, time spent etc.).

To be able to find specific sessions we use tags that are searchable. The problem is that our field for the session itself isn't searchable. We've noticed that when we wanted to read old sessions, I mean when we tested specific features/corner cases that we tag very seldom.

We thought of trying using different text editors since the entire text then is searchable, but we realized that then the sessions wasn't really readable. We use colors and titles so we need a word processor.

And the tool should preferably be between free and cheap :)

  • Wouldn't MS Excel be enough?
    – dzieciou
    Nov 12, 2012 at 11:35
  • How would you use excel? One session / tab? one session / excel file? Can you search throughout the file? And how do you make the text in different colours within a cell? So in short: I'm fairly sure that MS Excel would be enough.
    – Pierre
    Nov 12, 2012 at 12:28
  • I've never used it for this goal but... You may use multiple font formats within a single cell. If your session consists of multiple records, then one session could be one sheet (tab). Then in Find dialog you may select to search in whole worksheet. Another option would be to create a separate sheet for searching that aggregates information from session sheets tag columns. It could take some effort to maintain that, though.
    – dzieciou
    Nov 12, 2012 at 12:36
  • 1
    Another reason to use Excel (or spreadsheet app in general) it that some tools for exploratory testing, like Rapid Reporter, allow to write your session log to CSV format, that Excel can read.
    – dzieciou
    Nov 12, 2012 at 12:45
  • Will try Rapid Reporter and Session Tester. Thank you @dzieciou for all the help and pointers!
    – Pierre
    Nov 12, 2012 at 13:04

3 Answers 3


Not saying that it's cheap, but, tools like OneNote tend to fill this void very well. We use a notebook for each application. For projects, we use Tabs/Sections for Modules/areas, and for operational type changes, we use a new section for each Release. Each session takes up 1 page. These get stored on either a sharepoint or in a shared folder that we all have access to. Anything can be easily tagged, and searching is simple as well. If you're willing to store your data in the cloud, there is a web version, although in my own opinion, no where near as useful.

Other applications, like Evernote can also do the similar job, and are free. Again however, you aren't storing the data on premise anymore, if that's not a problem for you (deal breaker in my organization).

  • Evernote was pretty much exaktly what I was looking for!
    – Pierre
    Nov 13, 2012 at 9:22

Use whatever you are comfortable with. I'd suggest starting with something basic for recording notes like Notepad++. The important thing is to be able to keep detailed notes about your session, to setup a session charter, etc. Once you've got some practice with it, you can see what works and what doesn't.

I've used Rapid Reporter and Session Tester as dzieciou points out but they take some getting used to. I think Session Tester stores its output in XML files while Rapid Reporter creates files in CSV, RTF and image files (probably jpg).

When I was at a training event (Rapid Test Intensive) we were using Jira to store bugs and there were a couple of Atlassian guys there talking about their application Bonfire. They were using it for exploratory session based testing and apparently it works pretty well. It's relatively inexpensive if you don't need a lot of users.


One more documentation tool for session-based test management for your consideration: qTrace qTrace includes the option to capture and display timestamp associated with every screen and action along with user's action. Besides, the duration of the record is also captured. Also, the timestamp feature is available in free edition.

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