What Is A Bug Reporting Software: Complete Guide

bug reporting software

Are you struggling to keep track of software bugs and ensure they’re resolved efficiently? Bug reporting software is your answer. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about bug reporting software, from its core features to its benefits. Whether you’re a developer, project manager, or part of a QA team, understanding bug reporting software can streamline your workflow and enhance your product’s quality.

Get ready to explore how this essential tool can transform your bug-tracking process and improve your team’s productivity.

Table of contents

What is a Bug Report/Defect Report?

A Bug Report, also known as a Defect Report, is a crucial document that identifies and describes an issue or flaw within a software application. It provides detailed information about the bug, including a brief title, a detailed description of what went wrong, and step-by-step instructions on how to reproduce the issue. The report also includes the expected result, the actual result, and the severity or priority of the bug.

Additionally, information about the software environment and relevant attachments like screenshots or logs are often included to help developers understand and resolve the issue efficiently.

According to Yegor, a bug report “must clearly explain how the product is malfunctioning.”

Benefits of a good software bug report?

A good bug report should be clear and detailed about the issue, so then the developer team can understand and reproduce it.

So a bug report must contain:

  • Accurate description of the problem
  • Steps taken to reproduce it
  • Expected results
  • Actual results
  • Screenshot or Video recordings

If applicable:

  • Device information 
  • Relevant data

How to report a bug?

Effectively reporting a bug is crucial for the development team to promptly and accurately resolve the issue. A well-constructed bug report should be clear, comprehensive, and easy to understand. Here are the steps to submit a bug report:

  • Attempt to consistently replicate the bug through systematic testing.
  • Gather information about the environment, including the browser type, operating system, and relevant software versions.
  • Create clear instructions detailing how to reproduce the bug.
  • Include screenshots or videos to help illustrate the issue for developers.
  • Describe the expected outcome and contrast it with what actually occurred.
  • Assess the severity and priority of the bug, explaining its impact on the software’s functionality and urgency.
  • Check the bug tracking system for duplicates to ensure the bug hasn’t already been reported.
  • Assign the bug to the appropriate developer or team and follow up as needed.
  • Monitor the bug’s progress to ensure it is being addressed and provide any additional information if required.

How to Write a Bug Report

A well-crafted bug report should help developers and management understand the issue clearly. Here are some guidelines to follow:

1. Provide All Relevant Information:

Use simple sentences to describe the bug. Expert testers view bug reporting as a skill. Here are some tips to improve your bug reports:

2. Report Reproducible Bugs:

Ensure the bug is reproducible. Include detailed steps to reproduce the bug, along with any prerequisites and test data needed.

3. Be Concise and Clear:

Summarize the issue briefly yet comprehensively. Use bullet points instead of paragraphs to make the information easily digestible. Provide all relevant details to help developers understand the problem without unnecessary back-and-forth communication.

4. Report Bugs Early:

Report bugs as soon as you find them. Early reporting allows the team to fix issues sooner and helps deliver the product on time.

5. Avoid Spelling Mistakes and Language Errors:

Proofread your report for spelling and grammatical errors. Consider using tools like Grammarly to avoid ambiguity and ensure clarity.

6. Document Intermittent Issues:

Not all bugs are reproducible. For intermittent issues, record a video and attach it to the bug report. Videos can capture steps that are hard to document and provide more context than screenshots.

7. Avoid Duplication of Bugs:

Before reporting a bug, check for existing reports of the same issue. Duplicate bug reports waste developer time and effort.

8. Create Separate Bugs for Unrelated Issues:

Report unrelated issues separately. Combining multiple issues in one report can delay resolution, as the bug can’t be closed until all issues are fixed.

9. Avoid an Authoritative Tone:

Use a respectful and professional tone. Avoid being commanding, harsh, or mocking the developer.

The goal of a good bug report is to help developers and management understand the bug and its impact. The more accurate and detailed the report, the quicker and more effectively the issue can be resolved.

Essential Features in a Bug Report

Various bug reporting tools, such as Jira, Bugzilla, TFS, and Asana, are available. Choosing the right tool depends on the project’s budget. For small projects, Excel or Word can also be used for reporting bugs. Regardless of the tool, some essential details must be included in a bug report:

Bug ID:

Each bug should have a unique identification number. Bug reporting tools typically assign this number automatically, making it easy to track the bug.

Summary:

Provide a concise summary of the issue. This brief statement helps identify the problem quickly and is useful during bug review meetings.

Description:

Include a detailed description to help developers understand the bug. Mention the environment, user privileges, prerequisites, and any relevant configuration or test data.

Test Steps:

Clearly outline the exact steps to replicate the issue. This detailed description helps developers identify and debug the problem effectively.

Actual Results:

Document the actual outcome of the test steps. This information helps improve future scenarios and understand the current problem.

Expected Results:

Mention the expected outcome for the failed steps. This helps developers know the intended behavior and is useful for retesting the bug.

Reporter:

Include the name and email of the person who reported the bug. Bug reporting tools often fetch these details from the user profile, facilitating quick identification and communication.

Reported Date:

Note the date the bug was raised to track when the issue occurred and in which release.

Assignee:

Assign the bug to the relevant product owner or development manager for review and planning. Sometimes, bugs can be added to a queue for developers to pick based on priority.

Severity:

Define the bug’s severity based on its impact on the application. Categories include:

  • Blocker: Prevents development/testing or usage (e.g., crash on startup).
  • Major: Major function loss with no workaround.
  • Normal: Normal function loss with a difficult workaround.
  • Minor: Minor function loss with a workaround.
  • Priority: Define the bug’s priority considering severity, probability, business needs, time, and resources:
  • Critical: Mission-critical bugs with no workarounds.
  • Urgent: Core functionality bugs to be fixed within the sprint.
  • High: Non-critical bugs with workarounds, fixable in the next sprint.
  • Normal: Non-core functionality bugs that are minor annoyances.
  • Low: Low-priority bugs, possibly kept in the backlog or closed as known issues.

Component:

Specify the application module affected by the bug. This helps in assigning the bug to the right team members based on expertise.

Affected Version:

Indicate the application version where the bug was found. This helps understand the bug’s scope and its impact on users.

Fix Version:

Specify the application version where the bug is fixed. Once the bug is resolved, retest the application to ensure it works as expected before releasing the new version.

Date Closed:

Record the date the bug was closed. This is important for tracking the resolution process and maintaining a history of bug fixes.

Target Version:

Mention the application version targeted for the bug fix. This ensures that users running that version receive the bug fix.

Status:

Track the bug’s status through its life cycle stages, such as Open, In Progress, Fixed, Won’t Fix, Accepted, Reopen, Verified, etc.

Attachments:

Include screenshots, videos, and logs to provide visual and detailed information about the issue. Highlight issues in screenshots to help developers quickly visualize the problem. Videos and logs can aid in reproducing the issue.

These essential features ensure that bug reports are comprehensive, making it easier for developers to understand, replicate, and resolve issues efficiently.

Good Bug Report vs. Bad Bug Report

You might wonder, “What distinguishes a good bug report from a bad one, and why do poor bug reports seem so prevalent?” The quality of a bug report can greatly influence the efficiency and success of a software project.

Let’s delve into the characteristics of both good and bad bug reports.

A Good Bug Report

  • Essential Information: It includes all the necessary details to reproduce and resolve the issue.
  • Efficient Communication: The report serves as an effective communication channel, allowing developers to quickly grasp the problem.
  • Quick Resolution: The comprehensive information provided facilitates prompt bug resolution.
  • Directed Appropriately: It is sent directly to the responsible party for immediate action.
  • Structured Filing: The report follows a defined submission method, aiding in efficient tracking and resolution.
  • Fosters Collaboration: It serves as a foundation for collective problem-solving and enhances team dynamics.

A Bad Bug Report

  • Lacks Essential Information: Crucial details to identify, reproduce, or fix the problem are missing.
  • Inefficient Communication: The report is wordy and unclear, wasting time for everyone involved.
  • Resolution Stalls: The bug remains unresolved due to lack of clarity and completeness.
  • No Specific Information: The report is vague, making it difficult to understand the issue.
  • Unstructured Filing: It is submitted inconsistently across different mediums, not adhering to the defined process (for instance, airing bugs on social media is ineffective).
  • Hampers Collaboration: The lack of a common understanding hinders effective team collaboration and customer engagement.

A well-crafted bug report is a comprehensive repository of all necessary information required to document, communicate, and resolve software or website issues. Effective bug reporting ensures productive collaboration and swift resolution, while poor bug reporting leads to delays and inefficiencies.

Examples of Bug Reports

Historically, Google and Apple had a lackluster approach to bug reporting. In a revealing episode of “The Talk Show” podcast by John Gruber, Apple executives Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi acknowledged the shortcomings in their bug reporting workflow with external app developers. Even Apple developers frequently criticized the internal processes, highlighting the surprising inadequacies for a company of Apple’s stature.

However, significant improvements have been made since then. Let’s examine how Android and iOS currently handle bug reporting.

Android Bug Report Example

What is a bug report on Android?

Android simplifies bug reporting, enabling users to send detailed information directly to developers. This process captures device logs, stack traces, and other diagnostic data, essential for identifying and fixing bugs. Bug reports can be generated from physical devices, emulators, or using ADB (Android Debug Bridge). Android’s bug reporting system allows developers to inspect issues via ZIP files, and users can leverage crash reporting tools like Google Play Console and Firebase Crashlytics, which retain reports for at least six months.

iOS Bug Report Example

What is a bug report on iOS?

Apple provides a robust Feedback Assistant for developers to file bug reports. This tool facilitates reporting issues across connected devices, including essential elements like screenshots, profiles, and logs. Additionally, the feedback system promotes collaboration by allowing reports to be shared across teams, ensuring everyone involved is well-informed and aligned in resolving the issues.

These advancements reflect the evolving strategies of Android and iOS in addressing and managing bug reports more efficiently and effectively.

3 Samples of Bug Reports

In this section, we’ll explore examples of bug reports, which are essential tools for identifying and addressing issues in software, websites, or applications. These reports offer detailed insights into problems, aiding developers in understanding and resolving issues effectively.

Let’s dive into real-world examples to learn how to craft informative and actionable bug reports.

Sample 1: Web Application Login Issue

Title: Unable to login to the website

Environment: Google Chrome, Version 93.0.4577.82

Steps to Reproduce:

  • Open the website: https://www.example.com
  • Click on the “Login” button.
  • Enter valid credentials (username: myusername, password: mypassword).
  • Click the “Login” button.

Expected Result: You should be logged into your account and redirected to the dashboard.

Actual Result: After clicking the “Login” button, the page refreshes, but remains on the login page. No error message is displayed.

Additional Information:

  • Cleared browser cache and cookies.
  • Issue occurs consistently on both desktop and mobile devices.

Sample 2: Mobile App Crashing

Title: App crashes when opening the settings menu

Environment: iOS 15.0, iPhone 12 Pro

Steps to Reproduce:

  • Launch the app.
  • Tap on the “Settings” option in the bottom navigation bar.

Expected Result: The settings menu should open without any issues.

Actual Result: The app crashes immediately when tapping on the “Settings” option. Restarting the phone does not resolve the issue.

Additional Information: Updated the app to the latest version (v2.0.1), but the problem persists.

No other parts of the app are affected; it only crashes when accessing the settings menu.

Sample 3: Website Display Problem

Title: Layout distortion on Firefox browser

Environment: Mozilla Firefox, Version 92.0

Steps to Reproduce:

  • Go to the website: https://www.example-site.com
  • Navigate to the product catalog page.
  • Scroll down to view the product list.

Expected Result: The product list should display correctly with uniform spacing and images.

Actual Result: The product images overlap each other, and the spacing between products is inconsistent. This issue is specific to the Firefox browser; it displays correctly on Chrome and Edge.

Additional Information:

  • Disabled all browser extensions, but the problem persists.
  • Issue occurs on both Windows and macOS versions of Firefox.
  • Problem started after a recent website update.

Bug reports should be clear, concise, and provide enough information for developers to understand and reproduce the issue. Including details about the environment, steps to reproduce, expected and actual results, and any additional context is crucial for effective bug tracking and resolution.

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Final Words

In conclusion, bug reporting software is crucial for maintaining the quality and reliability of applications. Effective bug reporting enhances communication between testers and developers, ensuring issues are quickly identified and resolved.

By providing detailed replication steps, environment information, and clear descriptions of expected versus actual outcomes, teams can streamline their debugging process. Using bug reporting tools, whether advanced or basic, improves development efficiency and contributes to a better user experience.

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