Two new case studies on OneNote, and how they will affect testing


Last week Alceste mentioned, in a comment about using personas for testing, that the sample set we have on  may be self selected and skewed toward the educational market. That's a good point. If we had thousands of case studies, I would not be as worried. Since we are still a bit short of 100 I wanted to point out two new studies and show how they will affect our testing efforts.


First, the robotics company Autonomous Solutions has really embraced ON. Check out the report at I'll not quote any of it here, since it is rather lengthy and reads like a sales pitch. Honest, we did not make this up! One way this will alter our testing configuration plan is their use of VPN. In the "Solution" section, Mr. Torrie points out his use of VPN as a method to ensure everyone can get to the notebooks they use wherever they are. We (the test team) will take a look at VPN usage among OneNote users and reinforce our usage of that as a configuration for our own shared notebooks.


Looking down near the end of the article shows some nice words about OneNote which hide some good test cases. Mr. Torrie mentions he frequently drags and drops tabs (sections, to us) around to lay out his notebooks in a more logical manner. We already have test cases for dragging and dropping sections from within OneNote, so it's nice to get validation that our cases mirror real world usage. We can expand on the simple "drag/drop" once case to make it more iterative - automate moving sections and move them thousands of times.


There is also a design component to his comments which we will look at from a PM point of view. The question I had when reading this was "Why does he feel like he has to move his sections around?" Obviously, he may want to make his data appear alphabetically, old projects may get archived and new ones take their place, he may rename sections as new data is gathered or any other such legitimate reason may be why. He also may feel constrained by the UI - there is not enough room in a notebook to show all the sections at once on his computer and he has to make section groups to ensure there is enough horizontal space to show all his sections.   These statements drive the tester in me up a wall - I want more details to understand exactly why this happens in every case.


Overall, though, this case study focused on OneNote and gives ideas for new and reassurances for existing cases.


The Coast Guard study at is similar to our educational studies I've already mentioned. In the middle of the article is a comment that the instructors "transferred documents, charts, diagrams, video clips, and photographs into the Office OneNote 2007 notebook." We have a repository of real world notebooks we use for automation, and we can now double check to see that we have some samples with all of these different data types in a single notebook (I checked, and we do). This is similar to the ODE notebook I created using the MIT Open Courseware class on differential equations. The only thing I did not do was embed the video files - I played them externally on my Zune. Again, it's good to get reassurance that our data set is valid.


Go ahead and check them out - the robotics article is incredibly detailed and oriented to OneNote. And the company website it very interesting, especially if you like robots!



Questions, concerns, comments and criticism always welcome,



Comments (4)

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  1. Hi John,

    Just a comment on why we are moving sections all the time (from a classroom perspective)

    As the course progresses I realize that there are two half of the semesters are generally different. So in the beginning I start off with no section groups, and then midway I create a section group to classify the different halves of the semester.

    Also after using OneNote for a while, I have realized that it mirrors my usage of paper fairly accurately i.e I have a bunch of information which has to be sorted through and put in its proper place. Its like an electronic  collection of a sheath of unsorted paper. When I begin to sort through the mess, I feel the need to restructure and reorder a lot of things ( this is clearly where OneNote wins big time over tradition paper notebooks 🙂 ) resulting in moving of pages and section tabs.


  2. Mike Moore says:

    Hi John,

    Just wanted to respond on one point from the Autonomous Solutions case study.  They mentioned running a shared OneNote notebook across a VPN.  I do the same thing.  I am a software consultant and I do a lot of work for a company based in Louisiana.  I am located in Florida.  We host the shared notebook on the Windows server in the Lousiana office and I open it as a remote share on my laptop either from my office or wherever I might be.  I use an SSL-VPN Client to connect to their office and it is completely seemless.  It works great, all the time, everytime.  When I can’t connect, my changes get cached and then update the next time I can connect.

    I LOVE OneNote.  I teach the Microsoft Office line of products and in my opinion, OneNote is by far the best product that Microsoft has ever developed.  Thank you and everyone else associated with the OneNote development and testing teams!

    I don’t do anything on traditional paper anymore.  Everything I do is in OneNote.  I teach at the University level and ALL of my coursework & grading is documented in OneNote.  I love the ability to capture screen images and insert into the documentation.  I makes it so much more clear.  For all of my consulting engagements, I take screen images of everything that I am working on and I can clearly document a problem with screen images and then provide a narrative of notes to myself regarding the steps that I went through to troubleshoot and resolve the problem.


  3. JohnGuin says:

    Thanks for the nice words, Mike.  I sent these comments to the OneNote team!  John

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