Best Bug Tracking Software Tools/Systems:
We are testers – in other words, bug finders. Defect/ Bug/ Issue/ Fault/ Failure/ Incident – whatever we choose to call – our primary job description revolves around finding, recording, reporting, managing and tracking these.
While there is no harm in using an excel sheet to record/track and emails to report/ alert/ communicate – as the magnitude of the projects, the number of test cycles, the count of the people involved grows – it becomes absolutely important that we need a much stronger mechanism that will make the management of these issues simpler and consistent so we can concentrate harder on actually finding more issues in the AUT than managing the ones already found.
To enable the same, the QA market has seen the emergence of various bug tracking systems or defect management tools over the years.
As is the general rule, all the tools that belong to a certain ‘genre’ consist of certain common/similar features that we can bank on.
For a bug tracking software it is essential to have:
- Reporting facility – complete with fields that will let you provide information about the bug, environment, module, severity, screenshots etc.
- Assigning – What good is a bug when all you can do is find it and keep it to yourself, right?
- Progressing through the life cycle stages – Workflow
- History/work log/comments
- Reports – graphs or charts
- Storage and retrieval – Every entity in a testing process need to be uniquely identifiable, the same rule applies to bugs too. So, a bug tracking tool must provide a way to have an ID, which can be used to store, retrieve (search) and organize bug information.
The above mentioned are the features of the essence – which means these are absolutely necessary for any system that claims to be a bug tracking system. Apart from that, there might be additional features of convenience – like watching, saving searches etc., and some of the assurance – like voting, showing the bug info in a live stream and so on.
While features of convenience and assurance are ‘nice to have’ it is the features of essence that become the game-changers during the evaluation and making a choice as to what tool to use. Then, there is economics to consider too.
We know that the tools available in the market are innumerable – with some of them being a perfect fit for you and the others that just won’t cut it. The remainder of this article is primarily going to focus on some of the crème de le crème of the bug tracking tools available and introduce you to them briefly.
=> Want to add any other tool in this list? Let us know here.
What You Will Learn:
- 15 Most Popular Bug Tracking Software
- Benefits of Using a Bug Tracking System
15 Most Popular Bug Tracking Software
Here we go:
1. Plutora Test
Details: Plutora Test is a modern, enterprise test management tool that supports the complete software testing process across all types of development methodologies from traditional Waterfall to Continuous Delivery approaches. It uses a single instance for all projects consolidating testing design, planning, manual and automated execution, defect tracking and progress reporting and improves efficiency every step of the way. Integration is provided for all related tools and systems, such as Jira and Selenium. It engages stakeholders and drives collaboration between teams with analytics, metrics, and reporting capabilities not found in any other tool.
It is highly customizable adapting to individual teams while still providing a single view across all teams and has the only Quality Tester leaderboard available on the market.
=> Download: Evaluate this cutting-edge tool here
Airbrake.io is the leading bug tracking software that provides error tracking for +50,000 developers.
Airbrake allows you to quickly locate the file, method, and line that caused the exception as well as identify affected users, browsers, URLs, and more. Dig deeper with backtraces, parameters, and other contextual info. Monitor code quality with deploy tracking, error trend graphs, and detailed dashboards. Managing and triaging errors has never been easier!
=> You can try Airbrake here
Backlog is an online bug tracking and project management software built for development teams. It’s easy for anyone to report bugs with a full history of issue updates, comments, and status changes. Reported issues are easy to find with search and filters.
In addition to tracking bugs, it’s also widely used to manage IT projects with features like sub-tasking, Gantt and burndown charts, Git and SVN repositories, Wiki’s, and IP access control. Native iOS and Android apps are a plus!
Download: Get it free for teams of 10 and paid versions to have a 30-day free trial.
Details: Bugzilla has been a leading bug tracking tools widely used by many organizations for quite some time now. It is very simple to use, web-based interface. It has all the features of the essence, convenience, and assurance. It is completely open sourced and is free to use.
Download: For more info, check: Bugzilla
Details: Atlassian JIRA, primarily an incident management tool is also commonly used for bug-tracking. It provides the complete set of recording, reporting, workflow and other convenience-related features. It is a tool that integrates directly with the code development environments thus making it a perfect fit for developers as well. Also, due to its capability to track any and all kinds of issues, it is not necessarily concentrated to only software development industry and renders itself quite efficiently to help desks, leave management systems etc. It supports agile projects also. It is a commercially licensed product with many add-ins that support extensibility.
Download: A 7-day free trial can be obtained at JIRA details.
Details: I have one thing to say about this tool – do not be deceived by its simple exterior. I mean, in terms of simplicity and ease of use, this tool wins the crown. It has every feature you can hope for and then some. To catch up with the changing times, Mantis not only comes as a web application but also has its own mobile version. It is implemented in PHP and is free for use. If you would like it to be hosted, they do charge a price, but quite affordable, I must say.
Download: Check out the site: Mantis details for more information.
Details: Trac also is not necessarily a specialized bug tracking system and is an issue tracking system. It is written using Python and is web-based. When you integrate Trac with an SCM system, you can use it to browse through the code, view changes, view history etc. The issues/incidents in Trac are referred to as ‘tickets’ and the ticket management system can be used for defect management as well, if you wish to do so.
Download: It is open sourced and can be obtained from Trac Details.
Details: Redmine is an open source issue tracking system that integrates with SCM (source code management systems) too. Even though it is not a ‘bug tracking’ tool it involves working with issues, where issues can be features, tasks, bugs/defects etc. It is a web application that works across many platforms but will need Ruby to be available. For more info, check out: Redmine details.
9. HP ALM/Quality Center
Details: Well, no list of bug tracking tools will be complete without the HP QC, would it? HP ALM is an end-to-end test management solution with a robust integrated bug tracking mechanism within it. HP ALM’s bug tracking mechanism is easy, efficient and everything you can ask for. It supports Agile projects too. It is one of the pricey tools available in the market, which continues to be a prime source of criticism along with the fact that it is not very ‘friendly’ with all the web browsers.
Download: It is commercial and has a free trial available at HP ALM details.
Details: FogBugz is also a web-based bug tracking system that refers to defects as ‘cases’. It allows you to create, list, assign and work on cases created. Also, the project information can be created in terms of milestones so that the progress of the cases can be evaluated against the milestones. Very simple to use and has all the features of the essence for sure. Additionally, with FogBugz, you can create wikis to be made available to the general public. It is a commercial product but very reasonably priced.
Download: You can try it free for 45 days at FogBugz details.
11. IBM Rational ClearQuest
Details: Clear Quest is a client-server based web application that supports defect management process. It provides integration with various automation tools which can be considered an additional feature. Other than that, it has an end-to-end, customizable defect tracking systems. It is a commercial product and can seem a little costly. You can try it free for 30 days.
Download: For information and trial, check out: IBM Rational ClearQuest details.
Details: Lighthouse is an issue tracker that is web-based and is also compatible with your mobile devices. It is simple and organized. All the issues are referred to as tickets in here too. There is an activity stream, milestones etc. Another nice feature is that lighthouse lets you store project document online in its interface itself.
Download: It is a commercial product with a free trial available at Lighthouse details.
13. Zoho bug tracker
Details: Zoho Bug Tracker is one of the modules in the task management software Zoho Project. It is an online tool that will let you create Projects, milestone, tasks, bugs, reports, documents and so on. The bug tracker module by itself has all the features of essence that you generally look for. The product is commercial but not very expensive.
Download: You could also try it free for a limited time and see how if it fits your needs. Zoho bug tracker details.
14. The Bug Genie
Details: Though the name sounds like it must be a bug-tracking tool – that is not all Bug Genie is. It is a complete Project management and issue tracking tool – which involves defect management to be one of its aspects along with integration with many SCM systems, Project creation and handling features, issue tracking mechanism, integrated wiki and easy to use web interface. Supports Agile projects also.
Download: The product is not free when hosted but there is a version available for free trial at The Bug Genie details.
Details: A web-based defect tracking system that is very simple and has all the features that you will need to manage issues for your project effectively. It also has a nifty little service WebHost that you can use for the users (the end customers) to create an issue directly into your project. Though commercial, it is very affordable.
Download: Check out all its features at BugHost details.
Details: Devtrack cannot be categorized as your average defect tracker although it does function well if that is what you have in mind. It can be obtained as a stand-alone component or it comes along with Agile Studio, DevTest studio or the DevSuite. As the name implies it is a comprehensive solution to implementation track. Supports both agile and waterfall projects. It is a commercial product. A free trial is available too.
Download: You can visit the page: DevTrack details for more information.
Details: BugNET belongs to the “issue management” group of tools – quite a good one at that. The issues could be features, tasks or defects. It has all the features of creating projects, managing them, creating issues against them and tracking them to completion, search, reports, wiki pages, etc. There is a pro version for this tool that is licensed and commercial, but the regular version is free to use.
Download: Check out more information at BugNET details.
Details: eTraxis is also another tracking tool, that can be used to track bugs but again, that is not all. You can choose to track basically anything. So, the target audience is not confined to software systems. The best feature of this tool is the flexibility it provides with regards to the creation of custom workflows- in other words, you can choose to define the rules that need to be followed in the process of tracking and progressing a certain aspect through its lifecycle stages. These custom workflows are referred to as templates and they can be very handy.
Download: The product is not free, although a free limited version is available for trial. Visit eTraxis details for more information.
The above 15 are the most widely used bug tracking tools, although you might have noticed that bug-tracking by itself is not the target of many tools. This is because of the fact that, defect management rarely makes sense when it is an isolated activity from the entire project related aspects. Therefore, bug management becomes a part of these tools but is not all there is to them.
19. Lean Testing
Lean Testing is a free bug tracking and test case management software designed by testers. It has a browser extension to report bugs on websites quickly and easily as well as in-app reporting tools to allow users to report bugs directly from within mobile apps.
The system has everything you’d expect from a bug tracker and test case manager, but the great emphasis has been placed on making sure that everything is intuitive and easy to use. Lean Testing is web-based and requires no installation.
For more information, visit: Lean Testing
Below I am going to provide a list of few more defect tracking tools that are prominent:
A commercial issue tracker that has all the features common to this category of tools. It helps with creation of issues, assigning, tracking and setting the statuses, SVN and Git integration, file sharing etc. Check out DoneDone details.
21. Request Tracker:
Request Tracker, as the name implies tracks tickets. If your particular situation will guide you to treat each bug you receive a ticket, then, by all means, you might want to try this tool out. It is absolutely free and more information can be found at: Request Tracker details.
This issues tracking and project management tool is easy to use for managing tasks, bugs, documentation storage among other things. It has a desktop client that lets you capture screenshots and record videos. It is commercial with a free trial available at: BontQ details.
Open source issue tracking systems with a desktop client as well as the web-based interface. The typical features of an issue tracking system are here too. Get started by going to : WebIssues details.
24. OnTime Bug Tracker:
A defect/issue tracker specifically built for agile projects. The one feature I like is how it lets you drag and drop attachments. It is not free, but there is a free trial at: OnTime Bug Tracker details.
An Agile centric project and issue management tool. It has all the features that will let you handle agile projects- backlogs, scrum boards, custom workflows- the works. Bug tracking is also integrated, so if that is what you are looking for, you are covered. It is a commercial product with a free trial at: YouTrack details.
A developer-centric bug tracking system (but a bug tracking system nevertheless) with integration to Git and Subversion, it deals with issues as tickets and has a web-based repository browser to inspect changes in files. It is commercial with a free trial available at: Unfuddle details.
Ticket/issue/task – whatever you need to track, you have this tool up your alley along with the other tracking systems. It is commercial. Try it for free at: InformUp details.
Gemini is a commercial application lifecycle management system in the lines of HP QC. It has all the features necessary to carry out all your Project management and test management activities along with bug tracking. While being a commercial product, there is a free starter pack available at: Gemini details.
A simple tool that can be used to manage bugs or just manage to-do lists that have nothing to do with software, this tool can be a good option. A commercial product but it does have a free trial at: BugAware details.
A typical issue tracking system that integrates with various source control systems- check out more information at: BUGtrack details.
This tool falls into the section of ALM tools and provides a comprehensive solution for test case creation, execution and defect management of course. It is a licensed product and you can get all the details about it at: TestTrack details.
Benefits of Using a Bug Tracking System
Can a Defect Management Tool Make You a Better Tester?
I am not a big fan of tools that are single-purpose. Whether the tool in question is a kitchen gadget or a work management software, you want it to serve you in multiple ways.
The benefit of a defect tracking tool is not just effective management but, did you know that defect tracking tools could help you be a better tester?
In this part of the article, let’s explore how.
Firstly, Why to Use a Defect Tracking Tool?
In the absence of a Bug Tracking Tool, teams use spreadsheets to report, track and transport their bugs. While this might be a good temporary solution for small sized teams and projects, this is not a sustainable method.
Here is why.
Spreadsheets/Excel sheets pose a ton of challenges when you use them as your primary method of defect tracking and management.
To name a few of them listed below:
1) Too many bulky emails: Does this ring a bell? Excel sheets with screenshot attachments are sometimes over a few MB.
I often had these spreadsheet attached emails sitting in my outbox waiting to be sent or receiving a mailbox full alert as soon as I got one.
2) Lack of real-time visibility into bug discovery and progress/status: We don’t hear of an issue as soon as it is found. We also don’t know if an issue has been retested or returned, etc. real time.
Since there is no automatic alerting system, defects do not call for any attention to them unless someone is deliberately looking.
3) Work assignment issues: We don’t know who has what issue and what they are doing. If it has been picked up for resolution, what priority is set, etc. is never as easily visible as you would like it to be.
You might have to call or email or send an IM to find out what is happening.
4) Lack of a central repository: Too many folders, release-wise, module-wise or something-else-wise.
If you want to get back to a defect that was reported in the previous release or maybe a few releases behind, which was commented on by the developer in a certain way- you are simply playing a guessing game as to where the defect might be.
Even if you did find it, you might not have all the comments on it, all the history of it, etc.
5) Manual gathering and consolidation of defect statistics for insights into Quality of the product.
Imagine collecting raw defect data from each team member, entering into an excel template, organizing it to show a pattern or trend, and finally plotting a chart or graph. This process is time and labor intensive. And also, rigid.
Say if your team wants to view a new kind of report, you are looking at the additional effort and creating new templates, etc. So you are really limited your choices of what defect trends you can and will see.
Teams will no longer be inclined to invest time in monitoring and measuring and this means a lack of visibility and confidence about the quality of the product.
Some problems could be solved by the use of a shared document on a remote/network drive, but not all. So, most test teams use a defect tracking tool to handle this process effectively.
Defect management/bug tracking tools offer a single point of truth for all your defects, provide real-time updates, aid collaboration with the team members, trace the defects back to the requirements and generate real-time reports.
Everyone knows about this, what’s new?
Here are some great ways you can make your bug tracking tool multi-task.
3 Intangible benefits of using Bug Tracking Systems:
I guarantee you that the defects in your report will be superior, valid, and easier to understand and will have a higher ‘picked-for-resolution’ rate.
#1) Understand defect trends
We are not talking defect density or defects per requirement, etc. We are talking about getting a deeper understanding of the system under test.
Let’s say you are new to testing an application. When you are in the process of understanding the system, check out your bug tracking tool for the kind of bugs previously reported.
Pay attention to some of the following points.
- Is there a component/module/functional area of the application that recorded more bugs that the others?
- Are there platform/compatibility related issues before?
- Are testing teams allowed to make enhancement suggestion? Check if testers before you did this?
- Were there environment problems and are they treated as typical defects by this team?
- What was the defect turn around? How much did take between defect reporting and fixing/closing?
- What is the average age of the defects?
#2) Understand defect reporting standards
Now, every company, every project, every team and every individual are different. So, even though a few common guidelines on how to write defect reports exist, nothing prepares you like your own in-house research does.
How do you do that?
Check your defect tracking tool for the following:
- What defect reports got returned as “Not enough information”?
- What defects were outright rejected by developers as ‘Not a defect’ or ‘works as intended’. And, why?
- What enhancement suggestions were considered?
- What defects are still open?
- Did reports with screenshots have a higher rate of being fixed?
- For a defect, if the developers changed the severity, check out why? This might let you know what is ‘serious’ for the team and what is not.
Recommended read => Defect Triage Process
#3) Prevent duplicates and invalid suggestions
Once you know your application, your team’s work style, your development team better you are automatically a better tester.
This way you will know what is already reported or what has already been suggested and rejected.
You can now focus your energies on uncovering new bugs, exploring the application deeper and tailor your reports in a way that you get through to your development team better.
Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. – Edmund Burke
So, let’s be in the know :)
Defect Management system, when used right – as a tester, you understand your ecosystem better and as a team, it will improve the overall efficiency.
Therefore, if you are still using the primitive spreadsheet method for bug tracking, it’s time to change.
The choices for bug tracking tools are many.
- If using a test management tool you are going to have access to defect tracking as well. You are good to go!
- Some companies create in-house bug tracking tools. They are similar to the commercial ones available. So, they do the job just fine.
- Commercial, yet affordable tools. E.g. JIRA or FogBugz
- Finally, if all your team needs is a tool for defect tracking and if the entire testing is still maintained manually, your best option is to go with an open source defect management/bug tracking system.
I hope this article has persuaded you into thinking beyond your defect management tool like a spreadsheet alternative and treating it as a huge historical data asset.
Over to you
That is quite a big list, isn’t it? Surprisingly, the list is not exhaustive. In addition to these tools, some software companies have their own internal bug tracking systems that they build and use it for their projects.
Now, what defect tracking tools do you use and do you think there is any other tool that should have made it to the list? Please let us know your thoughts.
=> Any top tool missing in the list? Let us know here.