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Press Release


Writing bug reports

Damn, this fancy software that I just downloaded does not work - at least not completely.

What to do now?
Easiest thing to do is go to the next newsgroup or forum and rant about this piece of crap in there. Maybe other users have found ways to overcome this problem. Maybe even one or more of the developers are hanging around there, too. Maybe there is some incompatibility with some stuff on my system, but my system is good anyway.

Sounds like a plan.

Think twice! Would you try to have your car fixed in a similar way? Or any other piece of your property?

No, probably not.

Now what you should really do...
A similar place like the service station for your car is the bugtracker of your independent software vendor.

Every software has bugs and one of our noblest tasks is to hunt and eliminate them. There is a problem however: We are (like auto mechanics) not clairvoyants. In order to help you, we need your help first.

Give us a description of what you are seeing!
  • What does the program do (or not do or doing wrongly)?
  • How often does the bug happen? Once? More often? Always?
If you find a bug or crash, try to reproduce it and give us a description of how to reproduce it. Once more, think about your car. How likely is it your auto mechanic will find a problem that has happened once and never again? Software bugs are no different. We do not say a one time bug is not a bug as well, but it is a lot harder to find and fix it.
  • Of course an unclear readme or other documentation errors also qualify for a bug.
  • There is another problem: We only speak a few languages. Our default language of bug reports is English. This may suck for you, but first of all, we expect an English bug report. However you are not completely out of luck, in case your English is not perfect. Bitwise works also understands German (plus Austrian and Swiss flavors thereof) and Russian, so follow up communication might be possible in German or Russian. In case we get bug reports in German or Russian, one of us will try to translate them.
What is going to happen now...
Now that you filed your bug report, what will happen next? We will read it and try to make sense of it. It is quite likely the developer working on your bug will have additional questions in order to rule out well known problems or misunderstandings. It is important that you either look at your bug report for comments or questions, or register your email address in order to get notified about changes.

Depending on the bug report system there are tools to add a severity or label components for to the bug report. Please do not change the standard labels or severity codes. Those are not meant for users, we use them to do our triage and priority management. If you think a certain bug needs higher attention, you are welcome to explain in the bug report itself.

As soon as you see any comment, question or suggestion, please answer and follow our suggestions. By doing so, you are providing valuable information to our developer, which greatly help to resolve and fix your problem.

As soon as our developer is able to reproduce your problem, the game is almost won. Our developer will be able to find out why the software fails.

Bug reports which cannot be reproduced and which require more information from you - in case we do not get them, your bug might end up being closed without resolution.

Usually however, the final step will be to fix the bug and provide a new version of the software.

Unfortunately, it is hard to predict, how long it will take to fix the bug. It depends largely where the fix has to be applied. As our work for OS/2 is by and large porting software from other platforms, bugs fall roughly into one of the following categories:
  • Simple porting errors. These are usually easily spotted and more or less easy to fix. We control the whole process of fixing.
  • Errors occurring in the software due to a bug in an underlying library. These are much harder to fix. Possibly the library is not ours and we have no control over it.
  • Errors occurring because of shortcomings of our beloved operating system.
Bugs of the latter two categories have in common that we do not have complete control over the fixing process. The better your bug report is, the better are our chances to build up pressure upon other developers responsible for an eventual solution.

Can I help?
Sure. Depending on your own skills, you are welcome to add suggested corrections to the bug report (both for documentation and coding).

Some final words
Last but not least important, try to be polite. Thank you.


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Partners
We at bww bitwise works GmbH would like to thank our development partners, Arca Noae and Netlabs.org for their continued contribution to the OS/2 platform.

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