Better Bug Tracking

What makes a good bug report?

Bug reports provide crucial information to developers. However, these reports widely differ in their quality. We conducted a survey among developers and users of APACHE, ECLIPSE, and MOZILLA to find out what makes a good bug report. The analysis of the 466 responses revealed an information mismatch between what developers need and what users supply.

Users know what developers need, but fail to provide this information.

Most developers consider steps to reproduce, stack traces, and test cases as helpful, which are at the same time most difficult to provide for users. Such insight is helpful to design new bug tracking tools that guide users at collecting and providing more helpful information.

Our CUEZILLA prototype is such a tool and measures the quality of new bug reports; it also recommends which elements should be added to improve the quality and why this is beneficial for the user.

Bug reports with stack traces get fixed sooner.
A screenshot of the Cuezilla tool

A screenshot of the Cuezilla tool

What Makes a Good Bug Report? – FSE 2008
Towards the Next Generation of Bug Tracking Systems – VL/HCC 2008

Duplicate bug reports considered harmful… Really?

In the survey, we also found that most developers have experienced duplicated bug reports—however, only few considered them as a serious problem. This contradicts popular wisdom that considers bug duplicates as a serious problem for open source projects.

Additional information in bug duplicates helps developers to resolve bugs quicker.

In an empirical study, we quantified the amount of information that is added for developers. For example, duplicate bug reports triple the number of unique stack traces that are available to understand and fix bugs. Most bug tracking systems treat bug duplicates as separate reports, however, our results suggest that they should be merged.

Duplicate Bug Reports Considered Harmful… Really? – ICSM 2008