|By Kaushal Amin||
|May 3, 2013 03:00 PM EDT||
QASymphony is the company behind qTest, a new test management tool that's aiming to empower test teams. As software development has increasingly moved towards Agile methodology, with its focus on fast delivery, thorough documentation has fallen by the wayside and test cycles have shortened. Test teams have less time to identify and document defects, but expectations for bug-free software remain high. The flexibility to adopt feedback and accelerated build cycles offer real benefits for software development, but they require careful thinking from QA departments.
These are the challenges that qTest is trying to address by equipping testers with a fast, intuitive tool capable of handling complex projects. It's designed to be easy-to-use, it's fully customizable, it can plug into existing bug tracking software, and it creates a chain of transparency that lays bare the entire life cycle of each defect. It should be a tool that's appealing to teams trying to save time by implementing agile testing. Like so many new releases nowadays, it is a SaaS solution, based in the cloud and it's offered at $20 per month per user. The 30-day free trial gives you five licenses, so you can test it out for yourself. How does it measure up?
Getting started with the qTest software is pretty simple. Head to the QASymphony website and you too can test the five-minute setup claim. When you click "Try qTest Free" you'll be asked to fill in your name, provide an email address, company name, create a site address (which is your cloud-based home on QASymphony's server), and choose a password. You'll get a confirmation email with a link to verify your account, and then you sign in and voila! You should now be looking at your administration panel.
There's no software to install and, since it's cloud-based, you can access your projects from anywhere. So far, so good.
New tools always take a bit of getting used to. Thankfully, upon entering qTest, you'll be greeted by a pop-up window entitled "Five Minute Quick Guide." It consists of bite-sized chunks of info, complete with screenshots, on how to create a new project, invite other users, and dictate roles and permissions. The help guides are context sensitive, because when you enter an actual project you'll find new guides that cover creating requirements, importing test cases, and so on.
Initial impressions are that the interface is streamlined. Everything is clearly labeled, and the main bar at the top offers you navigation options. There's an inevitable, slight lag as each new section loads up. You'll also notice a bit of lag as well when you create a new project or start to add requirements, but on the whole it's fairly snappy and accessible.
What does it actually do? Once you create a project and add your start and end date, and any other admins, you can start to populate it. You'll find the following options in your navigation bar at the top - Test Plan, Requirements, Test Design, Test Execution, Defects, and Reports. These options are followed by a tools menu that allows you to configure user permissions, custom fields, external systems, notifications, and environments. The final option is the help guides, where you can also submit bugs or feature requests for the qTest tool.
As you enter each section you'll see the panel on the left-hand side get updated. This is where you can create a tree of project modules and their attendant requirements, test cases, and defects. If you've already been using a defect-tracking solution, like Jira or Bugzilla, or you have test cases written up in Excel documents, you can start by importing data. That option works both ways - you can also export XLS files. To link up an external system go to Defect Management in the tools menu and all new defects you enter in qTest will be automatically exported and vice versa.
If you're starting from scratch then you'll enter your Test Plan, which isn't intended as a project management tool, but rather as a way for QA teams to track the build release schedule. The Requirements, or user stories, come next and you can actually create Test Cases directly from the same screen, which is a real time-saver. Once again there will probably be some overlap with your project management system, but having a requirements module in here is a good way to uncover gaps in the documentation, provide extra detail, and provide traceability because the full history is recorded.
Test case management is provided in the Test Case module. It seems that qTest understands that testers like to work with Excel, so the test case editor looks and works a lot like Excel. It's quite easy to create, edit test steps and move them around.
You'll then move on to Test Execution where you can create and structure your Test Cycle, Test Suite, and Test Runs. When you've planned out the tree you can move on and actually execute a Test Suite. When you click Run you'll get a Testpad pop-up where you can enter expected and actual results, attach files, mark each step as a pass or fail, tweak the steps as required, and, of course, enter any defects you encounter. It's possible to use QASymphony's screen capture qTrace tool alongside the Testpad to record steps and screenshots that can be added to a defect report.
qTest has a full Defect module so you don't have to get another tool to manage defects. But if you are wedded to a defect tracking tool, qTest gives you the option to turn off the internal tool and use an external tracker. It seems that qTest is able to integrate with Jira, Bugzilla, Fogbugz, as well as Rally and VersionOne ALMs.
It's fairly straightforward to work through and if you run into any problems the help guide is a click away. You'll also find that the Notification icon in the top right of your interface provides useful, real-time updates about what's happening on your project. You can click directly on these to go to the relevant defect or test case. The full chain of actions on every element is recorded for full transparency.
At the far top right there's a powerful syntax search tool, so as the project grows you should still be able to jump directly to whatever you are looking for quickly. You'll also find the Reports section increasingly useful over time as it offers analysis, which can be filtered by fields, values, or dates. You can also create your own customized reports based on your choice of metrics. The nice thing about the reports screen is that you get a single place to see the project progress at-a-glance and filter by date or field. You can also drill down further and bring up defect details in a list on the same screen.
You really can get up and running with qTest within minutes. The interface is clean and uncluttered, which makes it easy to come to grips with. The full history on each record makes it clear who did what. The real-time updates work well for collaboration.
There's obviously a fair bit of work to do to create your project and it's worth planning carefully to ensure that you have things set up correctly before you invite the rest of the test team onboard. When your Test Plan is ready, the actual implementation couldn't be easier. Any field that can be automatically filled is dealt with by qTest, so testers can really focus on identifying and describing defects. Related records are linked and the ability to create test cases directly from requirements makes perfect sense.
Tracking your test results via the Testpad pop-up without having to leave the application you are testing is very convenient. Just like the ability to clone defects, it's a time-saving feature that enables testers to work faster.
Room for Improvement
No product is ever perfect and qTest is still being developed, so there are inevitably a few improvements that could be made. And while it's nice to see a rich text editor option for the Requirements, because it is quite rare in test management tools, sadly it isn't extended to comment fields or defect descriptions. qTest runs on a browser, so it actually is supported on a Mac and Linux.
There is an option via the Help icon in the navigation bar to submit tickets for defects in qTest to the QASymphony team and to request new features. Responses are fast, the development team will confirm whether they will be implementing your suggestions and give you a timeline. They are currently updating qTest once or twice a month, so bug fixes are fast and there's a good chance they'll accommodate feature requests.
This is a really comprehensive testing tool and it works hard to fit in with the ethos of Agile development. The automated fields, linked records, and complete history are invaluable for test teams. Not only is qTest helping to increase speed and efficiency, but also to provide transparency. Compared to existing solutions, at first glance, qTest ticks all the same boxes, but there are a lot of little touches that you won't find elsewhere. The end result is a smooth workflow and a dynamic, robust system that's extremely accessible.
This is a competitively priced, scalable solution that any company could adopt instantly, without any hardware or software setup. Clearly QASymphony is focused on empowering testers. Compared to traditional test management systems, which are complex, expensive, and suffer from a steep learning curve, qTest is a breath of fresh air.
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