Product Reviews

FogBUGZ 3.0 Squashes Bugs, Dead

What's smarter than tracking your project's bugs from a Web-based system?

FogBUGZ is a Web-based bug-tracking system. Well, bug and feature and problem tracking: all sorts of things that can need to be done with software products can be put in here and shepherded through the development process. It comes from Fog Creek Software, the company founded by Joel Spolsky, whose book on UI design I reviewed a couple of issues ago.

The product is designed to be easy to use, with most of the screens understandable by anyone who's ever participated in formal bug-tracking. For those who haven't, the help is lighthearted and comprehensive -- not only does it cover the nuts and bolts of using the product, but it talks a lot about how to be a great tester and what you can do to make bug-tracking a success in your organization. Though there is no fixed workflow here, there are some immutable points. For instance, though anyone can mark a bug resolved, only the person who opened it can mark it truly closed.

One nice thing is the thorough use of e-mail. You can get e-mails any time a bug affects you, or subscribe for change notification e-mails regarding any bug in the system. You can also set it up so that there's an incoming POP3 account whose messages automatically get entered as bugs. This raised the specter of having spam automatically turned into a bug, but it's still a good idea. You can also set things up to integrate FogBUGZ with your source code control system so that checkin commnents get assinged to the right bug without retyping.

It's easy to find the bugs you're interested in with a variety of filtering and listing options, and as much of the data entry is from dropdown lists as possible. You can edit things like the list of releases or areas for a project (or add new projects), but you can't do things that Fog Creek thinks are pointless distractions -- for instance, you can't add completely freeform extra fields beyond the ones that they supply.

New features in 3.0 include the ability to embed pictures in bugs, the ability to submit bugs without logging in (ideal if you want customers to send bug reports), better filtering, bulk operations, automatic linking between bugs, and better tips and help for beginners.

FogBUGZ runs on IIS and uses either Jet or SQL Server as a database. You can install it on your own server or pay Fog Creek to host it on one of their servers. And if you go over to their Web site, you can sign up for a 45-day free trial and get started on their servers at once. If you're looking for a bug-tracking solution, this is an excellent chance to kick the tires.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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