Track your issues

Issue Trackers

If you are not aware of a problem, you cannot fix it.

Having full awareness of the issues and managing it is the key of success for any kind of project (not just software).

For an open-source project it is essential that the issue tracker focuses on at least 3 areas:
Ease of use: You get reports mainly by casual users, they must spend the least amount of time to understand the tool and to provide the information.
Loudness: It must make problems easy to spot.
Data Mining: It should provide tools to query details, aggregate bugs and manipulate them.

What’s available

Right now I tried in different projects many issue trackers, sadly almost none fit the bill, they usually are actually the opposite: limited, cumbersome, hard to configure and horrible to use either to fill bugs or to actually manage them.

Bugzilla

It is by far the least bad, it has plugins to provide near-instant access thanks to Mozilla Persona, it has a rich rpc system that could be leveraged to have irc notifiers or side site statistics, importing-exporting data is almost there. As we know in Gentoo, it requires some deep manipulation and if there is nobody around to do that you can get fallouts like this when a single stubborn (and probably distracted) developer (vapier) manages to spoil the result of the goodwill of another and makes the Project overall more frail.

Mantis

It is still too rich of confusing option but its default splash views are a boon if you are wondering what’s the status of your project. No open-id/persona/single-sign-on integration sadly.

Redmine/Trac

Usually not good enough on the reporting side and, even if they are much simpler than Bugzilla, still not good for the untrained user. They integrate with the source repository view and knowledge base (aka wiki) so they can be a good starting point for small organizations.

Github/GitLab/Gogs

They have a more encompassing approach than redmine and trac, their issue tracker component is too simple in some cases (with Github not having even support for attachments and gogs not really managing tags yet) or a little too rough (no bug dependencies). But, with its immediate UI and the label-oriented approach, it is already pretty good for a large deal of projects. Sadly not Libav: we do need proper attachments.

RT

Request Tracker is overwhelming. No other words. Do not use it if you do not need to. It is too complex to configure on the admin side and is too annoying to use on the developer side. For users the interface is usually a mailbox so you can’t go wrong. Perfect if you have to manage a huge number of paying customer and you want to have detailed billing and other extremely advanced features.

Brimir

New kid of the block, it is quite simple, way too simple. Its mail rendering makes it not really great but is pretty much a nice concept waiting to bloom. (Will it?)

Suggestion welcome

Do you know any better opensource issue tracker? Please comment down =)

24 thoughts on “Track your issues”

  1. It is a pity Jira is not free. It looks way more modern than Bugzilla. We recently switched from Bugzilla to Jira and after some effort in customizing it, it seems way more powerful.

    We used to use Trello, but mostly for planning, not for tracking issues.

      1. Frankly, sometimes bugzilla is *much* and by *far* better than jira.

        For Gentoo we promised that we just rely on opensource so it is not on the table to begin with.

  2. I definitely would not put trac and redmine on the same track. Sure they both are “project management” tools with more than bug tracker and integrates and such. But redmine is far far superior, beautiful and useful than trac.
    My experience so far : I’m a freelance. I’ve been using/installing/managing bug tracking software for >15 years, and redmine is the one that stands out. Both with expert users (dev/ops/devops knowing how to report cleanly) and end users. It’s not perfect, sure (for example, I don’t like the technologies, ruby/rails).

    Trac (along with bugzilla and others) were eliminated very early. I’ve been using mantis for years before settling on redmine for me and my customers.

    1. The shortcomings of redmine are the same of the ones you find in trac. The fact trac by default has more and is even more annoying doesn’t change the fact redmine is not for the target audience I mentioned at the start.

  3. One more vote for Atlassian Jira (you already know that its free for open source projects)

    // Do you trying to find an alternative BTS for bgo? If so thats a great news

    1. Possibly, anything that isn’t opensource is out of question due our social contract though. My experience with jira makes it fall in the bugzilla bucket though, too complex for the casual user and too hard to mold to your needs.

      1. I understand why Jira is not a suitable option for you in this case. In our recent experience it required some major planning and effort to adapt it, but it is paying off.

        Damn, it is depressing how it is so hard to find a good tool for this. This is more or less the same problem I have with finding a todo-list/personal manager: I would need something with scalable complexity, from just taking a simple note to describe a more complex task, with sub-steps, deadlines and so on.

        For tracking issues even the GitHub tools seem sometimes to much. For very simple issues I would just describe them in the title, with no need for a body, while others would require attachments or would need to be splitted in sub-steps.

        We should solve this problem and be celebrated in the whole world for doing it ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Taiga looks incredibly good, but for developers to developers.

      Random users would require some simplified input. Good part: the api should let do that, Bad part: django usually is too inflexible.

      now I want a taiga written in Flask! =) Thanks a lot for showing me this gem!

      1. Oh man, a “for-users-to-developers issue tracker with a focus on ease-of-use and organization, open-source and preferably in Flask” was exactly what I was looking for a while ago.

        And no, I found nothing, after also running into the “everything sucks except maybe bugzilla” problem, and not wanting to wrestle with integrating mountains of Perl into an otherwise beautiful Flask app ;_;

        1. Right now in my ridiculously huge todo-list I have to first implement a Patch tracker that doesn’t waste your time. That comes more or less after getting a loads of security fixes sorted in the release branches of Libav (thanks in advance to the Debian people (and whoever wants to) if they come and help, write a new batch of security fixes since Google provided me with another large set of interesting samples. On a side I wanted to play with Frozen-Flask + Flask-Flatpages and I already found a *lot* of shortcomings, then I have a good deal of new features pending a release for bmdtools, then…

          Probably I should blog about my todo list.

    2. I will keep my distance from ANY project claiming
      Weโ€™re crazy about Agile; it makes us better at our jobs and our customers love it.
      in their manifesto as much as possible.

    1. If it is not opensource we can’t use it due the social contract, jetbrains are known for making really great tools though.

  4. Thank you for your interesting post.

    I have similar feelings about most of the tools and I also agree that some better tool should be made.

    But I am not sure what exactly is wrong with Redmine in your opinion. I see several disadvantages of it but they are placed elsewhere and are mainly related to usage of Ruby/Rails (== instability of many gems, very hard upgrades, hard to maintain, some security issues) and not ease of use or limited capabilities when compared to bugzilla. Could you elaborate some more about your experiences with Redmine?

    1. My focus had been on complexity (o annoyance factor) toward the user and redimine is on the same level of trac on this specific (maybe even slightly higher if you compare the bare defaults).

  5. Fossil has a very light bug tracker (among other things). It is nice because it is distributed, and zero-conf (single application). I like it for simple projects.

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