The 6th of Diduary: Did you know you can record a user’s actions for debugging?

Today is the sixth day of Diduary. You can see links to all of the published articles in the series here.

Do me a quick favor and record the last 10 things you did before getting to this article. I want screenshots, descriptions, software version nunbers, the works. Stumped? Then I’ve got something cool to show you today: Problem Steps Recorder.

To get to it, you just need to open your Start menu in Windows 7, and type “psr,” or if you’re really into long commands, you can try “Problem Stems Recorder.” But psr.exe is ultimately the one you’re looking for.

Once you fire it up, click the “Start Record” button. It will immediately start recording all of your actions. Now, this is not a key-by-key recording. Its primary focus is click-by-click. Go ahead. Start opening a few programs, maybe surf to a page or two. And then click “Stop Record.”

The application will ask you if you’d like to save your file. You definitely do. It will be a ZIP file, but you can open that up and find an MHTML file inside. Opening that will present you with a web page that contains a ton of information about the actions you took while recording.

There’s many ways this application can help you, but the biggest one for me is:

You can’t always go to your user’s desk.

If your user says that the application crashes every time they try to add a new product, you generally want to know exactly what they are doing when it happens. If you can’t be right in front of their machine, however, this can get tricky. Users don’t always tell you everything they do, and if you don’t replicate their behavior, you may never replicate the error. This allows you to record the steps they took, and document them at the same time!

Click here to see an example of a Problem Steps Recorder document.

3 thoughts on “The 6th of Diduary: Did you know you can record a user’s actions for debugging?

  1. this is amazing, jeff!

  2. This has to be one of the best little nuggets I have seen with Win7, thanks for the tip! I am loving Diduary, keep up the good work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s