For my team I’m the point man on tracking all of the customer feedback bugs that we get submitted from external users. This is one of the best parts of my job as I really enjoy interacting with customers and getting to keep my finger on the pulse of what issues are bugging our users the most. Having a deeply involved community of users that will call out any flaws in your software is not just a perk; it’s a necessity to ship high quality software in this day and age.

Previously I’ve blogged about the ladybug system that customers use to submit feedback issues to us. While Ladybug worked ok for us it had some issues with how it interfaced with customers and with our work item database. So for our Orcas release we’ve switched over to a new Connect system to use for reporting customer issues. Connect is a nice system and we hope that it will be easy for customers to use and easy for them to get issues filed against the correct team (this was a big issue with the ladybug system).

Say that you are working with the profiler in Visual Studio Team System for Developers when you think up a suggestion for a new visualization that you’d like to be able to use to view performance data. What are the steps that you would take to get a new suggestion filed in Connect? Note that many of these steps will only need to be done the first time that you open a Connect issue.

1.       Navigate to the main Connect site

2.       In the left hand navigation menu select Available Connections

3.       “Visual Studio and .NET Framework” should be in the available connection list, click on it

4.       Agree to the terms of service on the next page

5.       Fill out the registration information on the next page

6.       After registering, read the introduction on the welcome page and click the “Feedback” link to get to the actual feedback page

Now that you are registered you can just bookmark the feedback page so that you can get to it easily when you have more suggestions to add or issue to report. So how do we go about opening our new suggestion from the feedback page?

1.       When submitting a new issue or suggestion the place that you will want to start is the big “Submit Feedback” button at the top of this page.

2.       The first step in the submission process will force you to search to see if your issue or suggestion has already been files.

3.       Please, before you submit your feedback use the search box with a few different keywords to see if your particular suggestion or issue is already registered with Connect. If it is already registered then please just add a vote for it as opposed to opening up a new feedback issue. That way the developers here at Microsoft can spend less time resolving issues as duplicates and more time actually fixing customer feedback issues ;-)

4.       So you’ve done a few searches and you don’t see anything like the issue or suggestion that you want to raise.  To proceed just click the “Submit Feedback” button located at the bottom of the search results.

5.       Next, pick if you are submitting a bug or a suggestion

6.       Now we are finally ready to submit our bug or suggestion. On the submission page please try to fill out as much information as you possibly can (attaching files or screenshots is nice as well). We try hard to work on all the issues that come in, but the better that you explain your suggestion or scenario the easier it is for us to figure out what you want, repro the issue and get back to you with a fix or a workaround. Putting non-specific statements like “Actual Results: It doesn’t work” and “Expected Results: It should work” don’t really help us at all. Try to be specific about exactly what you are seeing, about what is wrong about what you are seeing and about what would be the ideal fix for the issue. Remember that the more specific detailed information you can give us the better the chance of us being able to understand your issue and get it fixed.

7.       Also, put some thought into what Category and Subcategory you will place your issue into. Like with giving us more detailed information placing the bug in the right spot will help us to not have to bounce the bug around in our work item tracking software (go TFS!) and we will be able to get back to you quicker.

8.       After submitting your bug you will be able to track it from the “My Participation” tab on the main connect website. Not only will Microsoft employees be able to give you feedback and ask you questions but other Connect customers will be able to vote on the issue or suggestion and help you with possible solutions.

So that’s my brief little introduction to using the Connect system. Remember that the more you participate with Connect the better future releases of Visual Studio will be. So if you use Visual Studio you should also be using the Connect system to help get the features and fixes that you want.