TEST: DEFECT-TRACKING TOOLS
Michael Pryor, President/Founder Joel Spolsky, CEO
Fog Creek Software
In the oh-so-pedestrian world of bug-tracking software, the Big Apple's FogBugz is ... different. With Microsoft IIS, e-mail and a simple database, FogBugz hides complexity behind simplicity, adroitly managing three types of cases: feature requests, defect reports and inquiries from either customers or internal stakeholders. Cases can be entered into the central database through the FogBugz Web interface or via an e-mail account set up for this purpose. FogBugz automatically inserts a case number into an e-mail subject line and sends out an alert. When the recipient responds, FogBugz inserts it into the appropriate case, creating a record of the entire interaction right in FogBugz, even if multiple people on your end have responded. FogBugz's view on workflow is decidedly laid backyou can have it your way, or any way. If a programmer gets a defect report that needs to go to another code jockey, he just reassigns it.
Productivity Award Winners
Companies and projects looking for quality and control of their process keep track of the feedback they get from their users and their internal operations. This generally leads to the deployment of heterogeneous (if not home-grown) software solutions for tracking bugs, feature requests, support calls and timesheets. If you're seeking an integrated solution that will help you manage all these aspects efficiently, take a look at Census, from the Montreal, Canada–based MetaQuest.
Built for the Windows platform, Census offers all the expected standard features, such as e-mail notifications and support for project lifecycle and components; and adds many advanced features, including customizable workflows, version control integration and reporting. Moreover, it is Web-based, which means seamless access for all users.
My famously late-adopting office-mate, the Finn, tracks his current project's bugs with a pad of paper. Oh, I've set him up with several tools, but he's found them cumbersome, his patience expires, and the pad soon re-emerges.
I'm going to try him out on Atlassian's JIRA. It's clean. It's sufficiently full-featured to get developers the info they need, yet perfectly usable by nontechnical personnel with a Web browser. You can deploy it on any platform that runs a Java servlet container. It handles bug reports, feature requests and tasks with equal aplomb, and you can set it up with fine-grained permissions for various user classes as necessary. It's scriptable via SOAP, XML-RPC and REST, so that we can integrate it into our existing processes and set up whatever notifications we need.
However Sydney, Australia–based Atlassian releases so often that it's pointless to talk about "new features." By the time you read this, JIRA is already better.
OnTime 2004 for Web & Windows is a full-featured defect tracking and feature management solution from Scottsdale, Ariz.–based Axosoft. OnTime's features are provided in Windows or Web versions, and teams can use both simultaneously. The product's commitment to flexibility is evident in its support for unlimited attachments, filters and customer-defined fields. OnTime is written as 100 percent .NET, and the Axosoft Web Services SDK allows .NET developers to integrate defect reporting and feature request capabilities into existing applications. Coupling OnTime with Axosoft's PowerTrack Visual Studio Add-In allows developers to access their OnTime data without ever leaving the Visual Studio environment. The 2005 versions sport new product names, plus some nifty new features.