[isabelle-dev] Bug Tracking

Tjark Weber webertj at in.tum.de
Fri Jul 10 00:46:29 CEST 2009

On Thu, 2009-07-09 at 19:39 +0200, Makarius wrote:
> On Thu, 9 Jul 2009, Brian Huffman wrote:
> > I think it's time to bring up the issue of bug tracking again. [...]
> When this question came up many many years ago, we were a bit reluctant to 
> manage yet another system (the tracker), so started with an immediate 
> low-tech solution: a plain file Admin/BUGS.  Larry was the first who 
> entered something, I was second and third, afterwards that file was never 
> maintained by anybody, so I removed it (after resolving the remaining 
> issues).

A text file can be edited only by developers, offers no query functions
beyond grep (and little sense of accomplishment when you've fixed a
bug ;-)).  Its failure hardly indicates anything about the potential of
a modern bug tracker.

But of course a bug tracker is just a tool; in the end its people who
have to work with (or without) it.  HOL4's bug tracker (which is
provided by SourceFourge) is not exactly a blazing success either.

> Anyway, "BUGS" is a very misleading name for unclarities in the system, 
> which are quite often merely a misunderstanding how things could work, 
> should work, or might work eventually.  Some more knowlegeable people 
> would track "ISSUES", not "BUGS" nor "FEATURES".

The boundary between bugs, issues and features is fuzzy.  A good bug
tracker is useful for all three.  Note that the term "issue tracker"
typically refers to trouble ticket systems, as used in customer support.

> One also needs extreme care when "fixing" problems: unless this is done by 
> someone with a deep understanding of the component in question (usually 
> the original author or main maintainer), it is usually introducing more 
> problems than are resolved.

If this is a plea for more maintainable code, one can hardly disagree.
Documentation might help, as might unit tests.


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