Report on Zagreb STC #25 workshop: The Art of taking notes

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Last Tuesday we had our first workshop, The art of taking notes. Zeljko already wrote about his experience.

Our motivation was James Bach blog post, The New Testing conference. James presents idea what every conference track should include:

  • demonstrate idea in practice and take feedback from the audience
  • audience should exercise that idea
  • write or tell experience report

In this post I will write experience report about idea how to better take notes and how audience practiced that idea.

We started with usual introduction. We had 7 testers, two of them were first timers! I gave the introduction to workshop, based on this. Our context was taking notes while watching Elementary TV show. We used guidance given in previous link which was adopted on taking notes while listen to something.

We all came prepared with notebooks and pens in several colours (well almost, Irja forgot her glasses).

We all took notes by hand.

Every 5 minutes we made a pause in order to ask each other questions about our notes.

We should only note what was important and always note new information.

Use question, answer, evidence method. This is aligned with exploratory testing where you should test your heuristics about software.

Use shorthand, make notes visually appealing, always start on new page and always use wide margins, use symbols and diagram and color code your notes.

We mentioned here as examples xkcd comic, @testsidestory and twitter sketchnote hashtag.

At for last, after you are done, you should always review your notes.

What I noticed during the session. Elementary had three storylines: Sherlock/Watson relationship, get to know Watson, and the actual crime. We filtered out only crime information. But that information was overwhelming. As we made pauses, we discussed our notes and how they are significant for the case.

In the end we concluded that name of the episode was important note, because it helped us to direct our deduction towards the killer.

Here are our notes:

Callbacks on previous information.

Callbacks on previous information.


This notebook already has margins which is very useful!

This notebook already has margins which is very useful!


We all have different styles in taking notes, which makes us differ almost like our signatures.

We concluded that it would be better to take Ted lessons or talks as a practicing material, mostly because they are shorter that Elementary show and packed with less information.

After the workshop we continued with unofficial part over pizza and croatian craft beers thanks to our sponsor, Tentamen.



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Karlo Smid

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