Open-Source Bug Tracking with Bugzilla
At this point Bugzilla is ready to go and ready to provide you with real help. Once the system is set up, dealing with issues is as easy and straightforward as filling out a form and clicking the submit button. Bugs are submitted and the system reports to the responsible people—reminders included in case it takes too long. The person responsible either accepts responsibility for the issue by changing its state or forwards it to someone else. Either way, at some point the issue is processed and hopefully resolved, which is reflected by various state changes.
Each state change results in a notification to each person dealing with the issue. A unique bug_id and a sophisticated query page allow everyone to stay up-to-date on bugs of interest. As can be expected, the query page allows for quick execution of standard queries, such as Show me all of my open bugs. This outstanding query page also facilitates extremely complex queries, something that cannot be said about all of Bugzilla's commercial counterparts. Only a few mouse-clicks are required for such queries as “Show me all bugs in our e-commerce Web site, in the shopping cart component, submitted by Alice between December 1 and December 24 with an attachment containing the phrase 'resolve after Christmas rush'”.
It's a lot of fun working with a system like Bugzilla. To increase its use even further, it is necessary that each member of your team be conscious about the fact that a BTS reflects the state of health of your products. Sometimes when you are swamped it's tempting to close a minor bug by saying “works for me”. This always backfires at the least desirable moment, so it is important to create an environment where bugs are reported with a maximum set of information, allowing the developer to effectively pin it down. In the best of all worlds, this means a description on how to reproduce the bug. Every major state change also must be documented with a meaningful comment. “Fixed bug” is not a meaningful comment. A short description of what exactly caused the bug and how it was fixed (where appropriate) helps not only the integration team but also the team leads to find ways to prevent frequently appearing bugs. Make use of the fantastic Bugzilla features like inter-bug dependencies. These show that one bug can be fixed only if some other bug is fixed first, which allows for easy identification of bottlenecks. Remember, it's all about teamwork.
An important function of a BTS is to reflect the current development state of a product as well as its changes over time. Not only does this give valuable information about your team's workload, but it also helps in identifying endangered milestones or deadlines. Information about the time it took to fix certain issues in the past offers valuable information on how much time you can expect similar projects to take in the future. Last but not least, a high number of upcoming issues in a certain area highlights areas of your work flow that could use some attention for the purpose of improvement.
Not only does Bugzilla supply you with a sophisticated query page, but both table-based (one, two and three dimensional) and graphical representations (line, bar and pie charts) of the current project state are available too. Reports can be generated in a extremely flexible way by assigning values to the diagram or table axes, (for example, product for the horizontal and State for the vertical axis) and setting filter options for the bugs, dictating which should be considered in the diagram. Reports can be exported to a text file, thus providing an interface to spreadsheet or word-processing programs.
The development of your product can be monitored by bug status or by resolution of bugs over time. The data for this type of diagram is accumulated automatically in the background while Bugzilla is running, so time-consuming queries are not required.
In addition to the built-in reporting tools, custom-made SQL queries on the Bugzilla database allow for easy access to the bug data in creating custom reporting. By way of such queries, third-party reporting software likewise can make use of the Bugzilla database.
As you can see, Bug Tracking Systems like Bugzilla can help to organize and structure your team's entire work flow. Their use definitely is not limited to software development environments. If you want to try Bugzilla, a demo installation can be accessed at landfill.bugzilla.org.
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