How to quickly document steps in Windows 7 and Server 2008 for all applications (Dynamics AX, AX POS, Dynamics AX 2012 for Retail, 3rd party apps, etc)

Microsoft Dynamics AX has a handy tool that was built into it starting in Dynamics AX 2009 called Task Recorder. It assisted users in writing test scripts since it automatically took screenshots, added commentary and compiled it all into a nice document all by the user just performing a series of steps.
(In 2009 it was located here: Microsoft Dynamics AX -> Tools -> ‘Task Recorder’)
(In 2012, it was located here: File -> Tools -> ‘Task Recorder’)

This product was used for everything from writing training docs to functional design documents to issue documentation. One of the biggest downsides of this product was the fact that it was limited to recording processes within Dynamics AX. This creates a problem for steps in the testing script that required processes outside of AX (Server 2008, POS applications, etc).

Thankfully, there is a solution for this that won’t cost a penny more. You just have to know it exists. This product is called Problem Steps Recorder which will document these steps in and out of the AX application in a nice file that includes text about the action as well as a picture or ‘screengrab’. Don’t let the ‘Problem’ in the name fool you. This tool can be used for so much more…

To run the Problem Steps Recorder (PSR), do one of the following options:

  1. Navigate to ‘C:\Windows\System32’ and run the application ‘psr.exe’
  2. Navigate to Start and type psr in the search box. Click Enter.
  3. Click on ‘Run’ and type in ‘psr.exe’

You can only run the PSR by running the .exe. NOTE: In order to record administrative tasks, right click on the executable and select ‘Run as administrator’. If you don’t do this step, you won’t be able to record administrative tasks.

Running the PSR

Running the PSR is very easy. All you have to do is:

  1. Run the executable
  2. Click on ‘Start Record’
  3. Perform the steps desired like normal
  4. Click on ‘Stop Record’
  5. Select the name and location of the file to save
  6. Click ok.
  7. That’s it!

The resulting file will be a .zip file. Within this file, there is a .mht file which can be viewed in Internet Explorer. A .mht file is a MHTML (MIME HTML) file which is a file that is used to combine resources like images, flash animations, java applets, and audio files together with HTML code into a single file. In this case, it is screen capture images.

Regardless of the document you want to create (end user issue replication process, testing scripts, training docs, etc), this file will act as an excellent base line for any doc you want to create.

Changing the settings of PSR

There are several settings that you can set for the Problem Steps Recorder. To get to the settings, open the PSR, click the down arrow on the right hand side of the PSR bar, and select ‘Settings’ (Figure 1 below). This will open the PSR settings form (Figure 2 below)

Fields in the PSR Settings:

  1. Output Location
    a. The default location for the created .zip file
  2. Enable Screen Capture
    a. If Yes, there will be a screen shot for the last XX number of steps as determined by the parameter below
    b. If No, there will not be any screenshots for any steps
  3. Number of recent screen captures to store
    a. This value defaults to 25. That means that only the last 25 steps will have a screen shot

Why would you not want every step to always have a screenshot? The more screenshots you have, the larger the file that is produced. In general, in a process where we are recreating an error, only the last few steps are critical in details hence the last XX number of screenshots. Additionally, with 25 screenshots and 50 steps, the .zip file produced is ~1 MB while the mht file produced is ~2.3MB. This example was not as large as some that could exist.

dynamics ax problem steps recorder

Figure 1 – Settings in the Problem Steps Recorder

Dynamics AX problem steps recorder settings

Figure 2 – PSR settings

There will be a Part II to this post which will do a deep dive into the PSR. Stay tuned and check back soon!