Testers need tools to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. Sometimes those tools are expensive, enterprise software provided by their employers, and sometimes they’re inexpensive, free, or open source software. Word of mouth, online searches, and trial and error generally precedes the latter tool types. Things like this small article on LinkedIn.
Every tester likely has their favorite specific tools, but most of us use the similar types of tools – screenshot or screen recorders, test data creation or management tools, graphic or annotation tools, software to aid in cross-browser or cross-device testing, defect management tools, and general note-taking tools. All in all, a tester without their tools may resemble a deer in the headlights until they replace them with something else to make their jobs easier. Here are a few favorites on the QA Mentor team.
Notepad++ is in indispensable tool in my testing toolkit. It’s light, quick to open, easy to use, and has a bunch of features and plugins if you need them. I personally use it for any and everything, but mostly for quick note-taking to be used later. Notes from meetings, conferences, requirements documents, and the application-under-test itself. There are many number of tools out there that are similar, but this just happens to be my choice.
Screenshot or Screen Recording Tool
Every tester needs a means to take screenshots of the issues they’re seeing or record a series of steps that result in an undesired behavior. It not only makes it easier to show the developers what’s going on, but it also legitimizes their test cases, test steps, and the behavior they’re reporting. Tools like WisdomSoft Screenhunter and ScreenRecorder are free and easy to use. A browser add-on like Awesome Screenshot also takes pictures, but in addition to that allows the user to annotate the images with various markup tools.
Cross-browser or Cross-device Testing Tools
There are many of cross-browser testing tools, though not many that are free. Several are fairly inexpensive though, and of course a tester can just independently use each browser on their machine(s). And while using the actual devices and actual browsers is a preferred way of doing things, it’s not always feasible. This is where cross browser or cross-device testing tools come in. They can make verification across multiple browser types and versions simpler and they are useful in tracking down reported issues in specific browsers/devices. Check out websites like crossbrowsertesting.com, saucelabs.com, or browserstack.com for some great cloud-based platforms for compatibility testing.
Test Data Generation
Testing without data is next to impossible. While smaller data sets aren’t exactly difficult to create, it can get tedious to do so and we all tend to re-use the same data over and over. Random test data generation tools or websites like Mockaroo.com or Generatedata.com are extremely useful for quickly creating large data sets that are easily customizable and can be exported to nearly any format.
Spell Checking and Link Verification
Dead links, incorrect spelling, and poor grammar are the bane of any website. While they aren’t functional issues, they can directly affect a client’s opinion of a business. In addition to that, they can adversely affect a website’s SEO. Fortunately, there are many tools available to detect and help remedy dead links and bad spelling. Link Checker, Link Checker Lite, typosaur.us, and respelt just to name a few.
Last but not least, we all know security is of utmost importance. While deep and thorough security testing requires professionals trained in security testing, there are some good tools out there to check website security. Some are free, some are not and there are a few website based ones as well. If you want to quickly check a website for the most common security risks there are many tools to help you with that. Zed Attack Proxy, veracode.com, HP WebInspect, and beSTORM are a few of the free or inexpensive yet worthwhile tools out there.
So, what tools do you have in your toolkit? What websites, subscriptions, or applications do you consider necessary to your testing process, or that just make your testing much easier and more efficient?