Watch out for some improvements in the Workspaces bug tracker next week (Tuesday 3/16/04).

Find that bug

It’s true, the querying power in today’s bug tracker leaves somewhat to be desired. As the bug count rises, it can become increasingly difficult to track down a particular bug, even though you know so many details about it. That’s about to change.

The new query builder lets you construct a query from basic clauses. Using boolean AND and OR operators, you can create marvelously detailed queries that define just the view into the bugs list that shows you what you need to see. Queries can be saved in a Workspace so frequently used queries can easily be reused or shared with other Workspace participants.

Who does this belong to?

Don’t know who should own a bug? Assign it to ‘[Unassigned]’ so it doesn’t fill up your list. Of course, it’s always a good idea to check that someone is sifting through unassigned bugs on a regular basis to make sure that they are routed to their rightful owner.

My project doesn’t have milestones, but we do like to record build numbers…

How convenient! Up to now, the bug tracker has had two ‘non-core’ fields, namely milestone and area. Common to many projects, these allow bugs to be separated into different functional components and periods of time. But of course, you couldn’t filter by these fields, nor display them in the bug list, or perhaps they just didn’t quite suit the project workflow.

The custom fields feature allows up to thirty custom fields to be defined in the bug tracker area. Each custom field appears in every bug and can be used in filters and results lists. Custom fields can either stand as free text or be constrained to a set of options.

How would you like to see your bugs today?

Sometimes it helps to see the values of the various fields in the bug tracker. Customize the display of the bugs list by adding (or hiding) certain columns of interest. An overview query might include the AssignedTo field to give a feel for bug distribution; meanwhile, if you’re looking at just your own bugs, it’s probably a good opportunity to give that column a rest.

Analyze this

While the web interface lets all Workspace members manage and browse through the bug database, the interface isn’t always conducive to in-depth analysis. Next week, with the ability to export bug lists to XML, reporting becomes far easier using any manner of tools of your choice, from a hand-written XML parser to the ever useful Microsoft Excel.

File attachments

Sometimes words just can’t say enough. Why not save a thousand or so and attach a screenshot of a bug manifestation or maybe your artist’s impression of the UI of the future?  Debug logs, trace files and XML configuration files can all be attached to individual bugs to give some context for your Workspace colleagues.

And there’s more, stay tuned..