Screencasting can be a valuable approach to logging defects that testers sometimes overlook. Not all defects can be explained in plain text, and sometimes attempting to explain the defect in plain text makes it more confusing. It's important to always consider if a screen recording will add value to a defect. The best candidates for screencasts are related to the GUI appearance or a complex set of GUI interactions (usually I realize this when I'm having a hard time explaining what's happening on the screen!). Remember, just because you attached a recording doesn't mean you can leave the rest of the fields blank otherwise it won't be searchable.
How do you choose a screen recorder? Ideally you want the recording to be:
- Platform independent
- Standard file type
- Compressed size
There are a ton of screen recorders for Windows, but I've narrowed it down to two that are the easiest to use and have the features listed above:
(1) Problem Steps Recorder by Microsoft
This little app is built right into Windows 7. Launch it by running "psr" or hit start and search for "Record steps to reproduce a problem". It's not a true video recording, but a series of snapshots containing user activity along with the option to add comments as you go and other detailed information. After you are done it saves it as a compressed zip file that contains a portable web page. This is really a no thrills program but is just enough for most cases and makes it easy to capture your activity to send to someone.
What if PSR isn't enough? Need to record sound, capture a full video, or provide detailed annotations? You may have heard of TechSmith from their other product called Camtasia Studio, which is a popular screencasting tool that costs a whopping $299 dollars. I really don't need that kind of powerful software for a simple screen recording. I found that they offer a free application called Jing that makes it really quick and easy to do a simple screen recording with sound, then save it as a flash file (swf).
Although, this freeware is lacking basic screen annotations. You can combine it with ZoomIt, a free application from Microsoft, while you are recording to add these annotations. Check the Draw tab to find the keyboard shortcuts, I prefer changing the pen color to blue instead of the default red (as you can see in the demo).