Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An Experimental Git Bug Tracker

Historically we in the Git development community never felt a need for a formal bug/issue tracker for various reasons, among which the most cited one is that a bug tracker will soon become a mere nuisance because it is bound to be left uncurated, accumulating duplicate, invalid, or already fixed issues.

Compared to the downside of a typical bug tracker, the current system of sending bug reports via e-mail to the mailing list has worked fairly well for us. If the issue is invalid (e.g. a user error), responses come in the form of education, from which other people on the mailing list can also benefit (as opposed to being buried in an entry marked as INVALID in the bug tracker nobody reads because it is full of cruft). If the issue is real and important (e.g. affects many people), the discussion thread becomes large and will inevitably get attention of the developers, and interactive back and forth that is necessary in order to ask for more details and to discuss the best solution can be done on the mailing list, i.e. in the same communication channel the developers who can fix the issue are already on. Even if the issue is real, if it is not important enough for the original reporter (or other users) to nag the list with a simple "Has anything happened to this issue?" message, it can be safely forgotten and everybody can move on.

An old collection of messages from the kernel mailing list also supports this view.

But the thing is, nobody seriously has tried an alternative of actually trying to set up, maintain and curate an instance of a bug/issue tracker for real to be used for Git development. From time to time, somebody new to the community comes and asks "do we have a bug tracker?" because a bug tracker has never failed for us. We haven't even tried. Every time the question is asked, the answer is the same: "Nobody has volunteered to actually do the work, and that is why we don't have one. Are you volunteering?"

So far.

Today, we had another round of the same discussion, with the same answer. Then a fellow by the name of Andrew Ardill stepped up and offered to set up a JIRA instance here. It is not (at least not yet) the official tracker for Git development, but it may become one some day, if it is maintained and curated properly.


Andrew says that you would need to register an account and ask him to be approved to edit the contents of the issue tracker, but for a browse-only access you shouldn't have to even register.

Right now, the system seems to be empty and it is very understandable, at least to me. It was set up only hours ago, and besides, there is no bug in Git ;-)

Nah, the last part I am only kidding.

Let's see how this experiment goes. We wouldn't know how effective this thing will be until we try it for at least a few months.

And thanks again, Andrew!