Discovering, recording, and tracking bugs are important parts of the software development process. Luckily, bug and issue tracking tools can streamline the process, make it easy for teams to prioritize, assign, and fix bugs efficiently.
Many free online tools can capture and track bugs, but working with a single-purpose tool always has its drawbacks. One of the most obvious is the fact that bug tracking becomes siloed from the rest of a team’s work. For this reason, many teams have turned to more comprehensive solutions that help them manage the end-to-end development of projects.
Today, we are going to review ‘Backlog‘ Project and Bug Tracking Software. This is a hands-on review tutorial so you can compare its features with the tools that you know or currently using.
Since 2004, software teams have been using Backlog to manage all aspects of the software development lifecycle, including tracking and managing bugs.
From planning through maintenance, Backlog is built to help teams deliver quality products.
What You Will Learn:
Backlog Tool Features
Backlog’s features provide many benefits to teams, including:
#1) Streamlined communication
In Backlog, all work requests, whether they are for a bug fix or new feature, are opened as issues. Within issues, teams can share information, updates, and feedback with their team. No more piecing together comments across various spreadsheets, emails, and chat conversations to understand a task
#2) True transparency
All project members can see every task, bug, and request being worked on by their teammates. And they can view any issue to learn more about it. When work can easily be tracked by all members of the team, no one gets left out of the loop
#3) Real-time updates
Rather than waiting for project manager email updates or weekly reports, you can get a live look at every bug and issue your team is tracking. Moreover, using customized notifications, your team can update exactly who they need to on important changes as soon as they happen
#4) When you have a centralized source for all work, prioritization of that work becomes easy. Gantt charts and burndown charts help you visualize progress and make important decisions. Updates to priorities can be made on an ongoing basis without waiting for a status update from any one team member or group
#5) Centralized repository
Issues contain all the information you could need about a task or bug with a full history of how that issue has been handled. Integration with Git and Subversion mean pull requests, builds, merges, etc. are all contained in one central place and easily accessible to everyone
#6) With an organized and searchable set of data about all of your bugs and tasks to glean insights from, you can discover important patterns and trends in your software defects. Understanding the nature of problems in your system will help you translate insights into new processes and reforms
#7) Everything in one place
With Backlog, your bug tracking takes place alongside the rest of your team’s work. As you’re planning for your next sprint, it’s easy for team members to choose feasible allotments of work knowing exactly what mix of work needs to be accomplished
Backlog provides a transparent, centralized location for all of your software development needs. With streamlined communication and real-time updates, developers can focus on what matters most: doing quality work. Plus, Backlog creates a living archive of every bug your team encounters, so every team member today and in the future can access information about them.
If your team is spending valuable work hours trying to sort out bugs, tasks, and requests coming from every direction, Backlog can remove this burden.
Bug Management in Backlog
Using Backlog’s issue system for inputting and fixing bugs is simple.
Step #1: Check for duplicate bugs
However, your team chooses to report bugs, before entering it into Backlog you should run a quick check to make sure it doesn’t already exist as an issue.
You can search for bugs in Backlog based on a variety of parameters. Using search terms, categories, projects, versions, etc. you can check to see if there’s an existing issue for the problem.
Simply enter your search into the issues page of any project. You use the Advanced Search feature to narrow your search by:
- Issue Type
- Who the issue was registered by
- Whether the issue has an attachment
- Or whether the issue is a parent or child issue (i.e., subtasking)
You’ll see a list of issues that meet your parameters listed below your search.
If it turns out your bug is unique, you can then start creating an issue for it. If it already exists, read through the issue, and make sure the information is accurate, up to date, and properly opened and prioritized. Add any information that may be missing.
Step #2: Open a new issue
Bugs need to be captured and verified by your team in order to be fixed. While information about bugs is coming from both internal and external sources through email, chat, and testing procedures, it’s important that there be one formal way of entering them into your system. That’s where issues come in.
Within the appropriate project, open a new Backlog issue using the “+Add Issue” button in your left-hand menu.
By default, new issues are set as “Tasks”, so you’ll need to change the issue type to “Bug”. That way it shows up for searches in Backlog when using the Bug issue type as a parameter.
Next, you need a subject or title for your bug. It should be clear but concise, so someone unfamiliar with the bug could grasp the gist of the problem without reading further. Subjects that are too broad like “Fix broken link” are difficult for others to understand quickly.
Specific subjects like “Fix broken ‘Learn More' link on careers page” give people a better idea of what the problem is and how important it is to fix.
Once you have a proper subject, you can go into more details in your description. Some information to include might be:
- What happens?
- When does it happen?
- Does it always happen?
- Under what circumstances is it happening now?
- What steps can you take to reproduce the event?
You can also use the some or all of the remaining fields available in Backlog to properly categorize your issue, including:
- Start Date
- Due Date
- Estimated Hours
- Actual Hours
Workflows can be customized for different issue types, so it’s up to you and your team to decide which fields are required for reporting bugs. With the addition of custom fields, you can personalize your bug issue creation page to include any information your team finds necessary or useful.
Using custom text or drop-down fields, you can add information about the environment, browser, or device on which the bug occurs.
Capturing the bug in action either with screenshots or screencapped GIFs can be a big help for the developer who ends up fixing the problem. You can drag and drop these and other documents as attachments.
Your final step before saving your new bug is choosing who to notify of its creation. Depending on your team’s workflow, this could be your team lead, the assignee, or a manager. Whoever it is, you can add them to the notification field, and they’ll be made aware of your new issue.
When your issue is complete, use the “Add” button to save your bug. Your new issue will look something like this:
Once you’ve created an issue, you can also create any associated subtasks or “child issues” right within your main issue. Simply click on the “Subtasking tab” and click the “Add child issue” button.
You can open an issue for any kind of work task, including bugs. With titles, descriptions, attachments, and various other provided and custom fields, your team can create a complete picture of your bug that can be shared with and assigned to any member of your team.
Step #3: Assign to a team member
Bugs need to be prioritized against other bugs as well as the rest of your team’s workload. That’s when having an integrated bug and issue tracking tool comes in handy. By examining all the work your team needs to compete against your team’s workload capacity, it’s easy for project managers and team’s to properly allocate work across team members.
Again, depending on your workflow, the person in charge of assigning the issue maybe you or a team lead/manager. It’s up to you and your team to decide how issues get divvied up amongst your group.
Luckily, Backlog makes it easy to view all project issues at once. Gantt charts are especially helpful for visualizing work over time.
(Note: Click on the image for an enlarged view)
You can sort issues on your Gantt chart by date, and narrow or widen your parameter for a span of time, grouping, and status. You can monitor and change due dates to accommodate incoming projects and new bugs as they arise. And you can export your chart to excel if you need to send it to a member outside your organization.
Visualizing this information will help your team decide which bugs, tasks, and requests to tackle next. As new bugs are continually added and fixed, Backlog and your Gantt charts will reflect these changes in real-time, so you can always sit down and reprioritize as necessary.
Looking at all your team’s issues together makes it easier to estimate delivery times, manage workload hours, and prioritize what needs to get done efficiently.
Step #4: Move bug from your workflow to fix
Now that you have a unique issue that’s been correctly filled out and assigned, it’s time to get to work! As you take your issue through each status to closed, you or any team member can monitor these updates in real-time.
Members involved can provide updates, add comments or feedback, and change the status of your issue to reflect it’s current state. Moreover, you can notify relevant teammates of these updates with custom, real-time notifications, so the right people are always in the loop.
The backlog is fully integrated with Git and SVN, making it easy to organize, discuss, and track your code in one place. You can compare changes between branches to get an overview of what changes will occur once they’re merged. And you can have discussion inline with your code.
Each issue contains a full list of commits that have happened in your project to help you monitor changes. And Wikis can be updated and revised as you support changes to proper documentation.
Pull requests, merges, builds, etc. are automatically tracked directly in the issue. As you work through each bug, Backlog will help you notify the right people and track your work.
Centralizing your workflow is key to effective collaboration. Backlog provides Git and Subversion repositories, so you and your team can review each other's code before releasing. Create a new git branch directly in Backlog, and issues will automatically update to reflect pull requests, merges, builds, and more.
About the App
The backlog is a cloud-based project management and bug tracking app that can help you build, improve, and maintain your software. It’s also available as a mobile app for both Android and iOS, so your team can receive and respond to notifications on the go.
Backlog can streamline your team’s workflow for better communication, transparency, and organization. With other plans, you get unlimited users, unlimited projects, and 100GB of storage.
Plus you get:
- Access Control
- Gantt Charts
- Burn-down Charts
- Custom fields
For STH readers, you can try out a premium plan for yourself anytime with a free 30-day trial. You can create projects, invite your team, and see if Backlog is the right tool for you. No credit card required. No risk involved.
They also offer a Free plan for those who don’t need these more advanced features but are still interested in the joining the 6,000+ businesses and teams that depend on Backlog for their bug tracking and project management needs.
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