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Practical Development Environments by Matthew B. Doar

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Bug Tracking Tools

There are easily a hundred different tools available for tracking bugs. A good place to start if you want to see a list of choices is the Open Directory's Bug Tracking section at http://dmoz.org/Computers/Software/Configuration_Management/Bug_Tracking. Another good location for a list of tools is http://testingfaqs.org/t-track.html. Yet another list of open source bug tracking tools is http://usefulinc.com/edd/notes/IssueTrackers.

Spreadsheets

The simplest structured way to keep track of a small number of bugs is to use a spreadsheet program, such as Excel or OpenOffice Calc. You could use an ordinary text file or a Wiki, but then it's hard to sort the information. Each row in the spreadsheet is a single bug. Some typical column titles might be Bug Number, Summary, Description, State, Owner, and Priority. Sorting and summarizing by different columns can show the bug counts per person, the highest-priority bugs, and so on. Many spreadsheets will let you restrict the kind of data entered into each field—for instance, to make sure that the bug number is unique.

The main advantage of this approach is its simplicity. Spreadsheets are commonly available tools and are reasonably well documented. Basic reports are easy enough to produce. Adding a new field to the definition of a bug is as simple as naming another column.

However, the disadvantages of this approach are significant. Most of these are the same reasons why people use databases rather than spreadsheets. As a ...

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