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Making Software by Greg Wilson, Andy Oram

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What Makes a Good Bug Report?

Through an online survey, we asked over 150 developers from three large and successful open source projects—Apache, Eclipse, and Mozilla—what information in bug reports they consider valuable and helpful when resolving bugs. We also contacted bug reporters from the same projects to find out what information they provide and what information is most difficult to provide.

Our online survey is presented in Table 24-1. The survey sent out to developers comprised four questions in two categories:

Contents of bug reports
  • (D1) Which items have developers previously used when fixing bugs?

  • (D2) Which three items helped the most?

Insight into this issue can help develop guides or tools for reporters to provide information in bug reports that focuses on the details that are most important to developers. We provided the developers with 16 items to choose from, some selected from the Mozilla bug-writing guidelines[32] and others found as standard fields in the Bugzilla database. Developers were free to check as many items as they liked for the first question (D1), but at most three for the second question (D2), thus indicating the importance of the choices in their perspectives.

Problems with bug reports
  • (D3) Which problems have developers encountered when fixing bugs?

  • (D4) Which three problems caused the most delay in fixing bugs?

Our motivation for these questions was to find the prominent obstacles faced by developers that can be tackled in the future by more cautious, ...

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