Exploratory Testing XT with Test Hub in Visual Studio Team System

Posted by: Gouri Sohoni , on 4/23/2017, in Category VSTS & TFS (Azure DevOps)
Views: 21388
Abstract: Learn about Exploratory Testing XT (also known as XT) with Test Hub in Visual Studio Team System.

Exploratory Testing is a way of finding out how your application is working. 

It is like ‘exploring’ the application to find bugs in it rather than creating a test case and executing the steps in it.

A person who is well aware of how the application functions is the right candidate to conduct Exploratory Testing. For example, a business analyst who has created the requirements of the application is a suitable person to do exploratory testing.

This article was updated on April 23, 2017.


Exploratory Testing in Visual Studio

Microsoft introduced Exploratory testing in Microsoft Test Manager with Visual Studio 2010. Over the years there have been a lot of enhancements to it. Now it is becoming a major part of the testing tools suite created by Microsoft.

Testing with Team Web Access is available with Visual Studio 2013/2015 with on premises Visual Studio Team services or VSTS (previously referred to as Visual Studio Online or VSO).

Exploratory Testing Extension for Visual Studio

But now Microsoft has published an extension for Exploratory testing for browser based applications. 

This is available currently with Chrome browser (from version 49), as well as on Mozilla Firefox v50 onwards.  Edge is not supported yet, but may be supported in the near future.

Exploratory Testing (XT) is now called as "The Test & Feedback extension" and can be accessed from this link.

Facilities like recording of screen, adding screenshots is made available with E(X)ploratory (T)esting (XT). This comes as an extension and later will be available as a Test Manager Extension in Visual Studio.

How to do Exploratoy Testing in VSTS?

To perform exploratory testing, Connect to Visual Studio Team Services account using Chrome browser and select the icon for marketplace. To create an account with Visual Studio Team Services, enter the url http://www.visualstudio.com and select the option “Get Started for Free” from Visual Studio Team services (VSTS).


Perform a search for Exploratory Testing and it will show the following screen



The extension asks permission to add it to Chrome


Once it is added to the browser, we can see it as a small icon


Exploratory Testing Features

Let us find out what features are provided with Exploratory Testing as a part of Test Hub.

Click on the icon to start exploratory session and you will find options to start session, create screenshots, record actions, add comments (notes), add work items like test case, task or bug, settings etc.


Click on settings icon to provide connection settings, Connected to VSTS/TFS or the Standalone option


In standalone mode, you can take screenshots, add comments, create bugs when you are not connected to Visual Studio Team Services or TFS. To explore the complete functionality, you need to opt for Connected option.


While connecting to VSTS, you need to provide details about your Visual Studio Team Service account. Enter the URL and select the Team from the Team Project against which you want to do the Exploratory testing, and Save the setting.


Click on the Start Session icon to start a preview for Exploratory testing.

Click on record Screen icon and start exploring. You can record up to 10 minutes of recording at a time. You need to decide which portion of the screen you want to capture. You can even capture the  whole screen.

The recording can be done multiple times and these multiple recordings get added to the work item later.

While doing the testing, you can add notes or take screenshots as and when required. For taking the screenshot, you can draw a rectangle, ellipse and even enter text.


After the testing is over, we can create required work items of type bug, task or test case and they will be shown along with any other artifacts in the timeline for the current session.


Once we stop the exploratory session, we can explore these work items. The recording can be viewed with VLC Player. You need to download and install the player if you don’t already have it on your machine.

While entering the titles of the work items, we can get a list of similar work items and can edit the existing ones if required. We also have the option of exploring a work item with Exploratory session.

The bug will show all the repro steps and attachment for test run. Clicking on this, the client Microsoft Test Manager 2015 will be launched and the result shown.

The test runs are stored in VSTS but currently there is no viewer built. The viewer will be available in 1 or 2 sprints.

In Standalone mode, we can create a bug, capture screenshots, add comments and export html report for XT. The bug created gets stored in file system within browser content and is later exported to a report.


The html report comprises of all the adapters like comments, screenshots displayed and it also shows the bug(s) created.

Exploratory Testing (XT) now known as The Test & Feedback extension can be download from this link.

In this article, I discussed some current features for Exploratory Testing (now called The Test & Feedback extension)  with Test Hub also commonly called as XT.

This article has been editorially reviewed by Suprotim Agarwal.

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Gouri is a Trainer and Consultant on Azure DevOps and Azure Development. She has an experience of three decades in software training and consulting. She is a graduate from Pune University and PGDCA from Pune University. Gouri is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP)  - Developer Technologies (Azure DevOps), Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) and a Microsoft Certified Azure DevOps Engineer Expert. She has conducted over 150 corporate trainings on various Microsoft technologies. She is a speaker with Pune User Group and has conducted sessions on Azure DevOps, SQL Server Business Intelligence and Mobile Application Development. Gouri has written more than 75 articles on Azure DevOps, TFS, SQL Server Business Intelligence and SQL Azure which are published on www.sqlservercurry.com and www.dotnetcurry.com. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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