Thursday, July 24, 2003
And so finally, as promised – bug trackers.
Only free bug/issue trackers, and only ones I’ve tried, natch. If you don’t have a Live Demo, I’m not coming in.
And why not start at the top? The daddy of Open Source bugtrackers? Bugzilla.
I can only talk about Bugzilla as a user, I’ve tried to install it to manage my own collaborative projects, but never managed it successfully. To do so is a feat in and of itself.
So how did I manage with it as a user? Trying to see if a bug had already been logged? Failed. Simple search to return all bugs? Failed.
I don’t know, maybe I’m just a dolt, but even when I bring up a page detailing a single bug, there’s so much going on on the screen that I can only just about tell what the bug even is, let alone who opened it, what its status is etc. The only thing I really like is the comments section after it which shows progress and direction the bug solution is headed in.
The functionality it provides may be great but the awful experience of actually a) installation and b) use means Bugzilla is a big no no.
IssueTracker, powered by Zope, is great. Really simple, easy to use. No real complaints, although I’m sure I could come up with some if I really tried. Like the use of Zope. ew. ;)
The sourceforge bugtracker – pretty decent, it works, but stores comments in the opposite order to the way I’d expect. Pretty good otherwise, and probably the most solid of all the ones I tried in terms of a balance between usability and functionality.
I’ve looked at loads of free bug and issue trackers over months, and I’ve been really disappointed. What makes it so hard to make a decent bugtracker? Do I ask too much? Do I even know what I’m asking for? Is it because bug trackers are knocked out by people who need them for purely practical reasons and so don’t spend much time on the interface? Surely this can’t be the case? All in all fairly depressing.
So why was I even looking at issue trackers? Well, the developers at work don’t have one, and I thought it might be kind of handy (duh! how did everyone cope without one?!), but in the end I wound up splitting the bugtracker code (originally written by Gareth Simpson) out of a much larger project I’d worked on called Xurble into its own entity. Sadly the original xurble bugtracker isn’t running anywhere for a compare and contrast at the moment, but the one we’re now using at work is an improved version of this. Which seems to be easy enough, and is in daily use. It’s Java and runs within Tomcat, Jetty and JBoss (and most other web containers I’d imagine). That’s right, this post is really a shameless plug and taster for when it’s finally released. ;)
DEVIATION! PAID ISSUE TRACKER AHEAD!
FogBugz from Fog Creek Software is basically the nemesis of bugzilla, it’s very powerful, but with a far simpler interface (although not as good as I’d expect from Joel Spoelsky). It does pretty much everything you’d want it to, is better than IssueTracker, has more functionality than my version and you don’t have to have used an issue tracker before to understand what’s going on. Nice job, now release it for free. ;)