Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bug Reports

It turns out many people really struggle with writing bug reports. What I'm going to recommend here is exactly the same thing you'll find in the Joel on Software article, Painless Bug Tracking.

What I've found is if you go to someone and say, "What's the bug?", they'll have no problem describing it to you. But when they write the bug report, it comes out all confusing.

The difference is when I asked them "What's the bug?", they were happy to describe the bug to me. But when I ask them to report it, they feel like they need to tell me what the bug IS. Subtle difference, but it has a large effect. The result is typically a mangled sentence or two about how something didn't work. But it doesn't clearly tell me what they were doing or what they expected or even in what way it didn't work. Its like they are suddenly afraid to give me the context in which they found the bug.

So how do you write a bug report?
Just tell me these three things:
  1. Steps to reproduce the bug
  2. What should have happened
  3. What happened instead
  4. Provide extra details (exception text, error message screen shot, stack trace, etc)
The fun part about this is for many people they will save both time AND keystrokes reporting bugs this way because they no longer have to stress about "How do I communicate this bug?!"

For example,
1. Go to this form
2. Click on the "S'Okay" button
Error box should pop up, but instead the app crashes.

Crash report: blah blah blah blah blah...

You can use this method to report any kind of bug, you will save yourself time writing it, and you will save time trying to figure out what the bug is and how to fix it. Everyone wins, everyone is happy.

1 comment:

  1. amusing thing for the day. You write an article on bug tracking and the daily wtf posts an article related to bug tracking wtfs