or: The Search For a Practical Issue Tracking Solution
I’m currently evaluating numerous issue tracking systems. I’ve already found one that I intend using myself (FogBugz) because it “just works” (and it’s free for 1-2 users, which will do for me at least until I manage to figure out how to clone myself. Twice).
I like stuff that “just works”. I’ll often overlook other shortcomings of pretty much anything that does what it does well and delivers some benefit without getting in my way.
On the other hand, you could show me the most capable, feature endowed “Be-All and End-All”, but if the user experience of it is painful, unintuitive or causes me hassle in any unreasonable way shape or form, then I’ll quickly pass.
All of the “highly recommended” issue tracking systems that I have looked at have failed this “It Just Works” test. Highly recommended in this context means “they advertise, or are alleged to have, a large user base and/or have been voted “best” or “top” in one or more polls/surveys”.
In this category are the like of OnTime, TestTrack , Codendi and even JIRA . All of these present a frankly bewildering initial experience and in some cases just getting an evaluation system up and running was a major exercise in systems management and configuration, taking the best part of a day to reach a point where I could start configuring a test project.
I come away from these products wondering if the user count reflects actual users or includes large numbers of customers but who aren’t actually using the software anymore. I struggle to imagine the kind of developer that would vote for these systems, although I can easily see the attraction for management types.
In most cases I suspect that these systems have relatively few customers but that those customers each have an enormous number of user licenses. They seem suited to large, enterprise scale applications with multiple level of management “turned on” by endless, and mostly meaningless, metrics and detailed reports that can impose an enterprise system on their departments against the protestations of those departments if necessary.
I just cannot see these systems being embraced by small, agile development teams looking for efficient and practical issue tracking with a minimum of fuss and bother.
On the face of it FogBugz is lacking a huge amount of functionality that these larger, more complex systems offer, but how much of that functionality actually adds anything of any significance to those products?
How much of that feature “bloat” is there primarily to hit some marketting “hot buttons”?
What are YOU using? And more importantly, why?
Other Stuff That “Just Works”
Today I upgraded my blog site to the latest WordPress version.
I’ve really enjoyed WordPress from the start. Again, it was the first blog/CMS I found that really was “plug-and-play”, allowing me to get on with creating content without having to become an expert in the blogging system itself.
I have been putting off upgrading because despite that positive experience I suspected that upgrading would prove to be a pain that I could do without. But I decided that I really had to bite the bullet.
Yet again, WordPress came through. The whole process of upgrading took no more than a couple of hours, and would have taken less time had I not made a few silly mistakes in following the instructions (I was upgrading from WordPress 2.2, so it was a largely manual process. One of the reasons for upgrading was that newer versions have an automated upgrade process).
There may be better issue tracking and blog systems out there. But FogBugz and WordPress “just work”, and that counts for a lot in my book.