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Resources for bug tracking in MarkUs

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The developers of MarkUs use GitHub’s issue tracking system to handle all the bugs floating around our application. It is a very useful system for maintaining current and old bugs, requests for new features and represents the overall state and goals of MarkUs.

Unfortunately, our users do not have the chance to see this unless they try hunting it down themselves. I’m currently working on a feature to point our users to our bug tracker, providing them with easy access to the ability to view and report bugs at their convenience. Here is some sample UI that I’m brainstorming. I’ve come up with some rough drafts of UI that I will most likely use.

The Header

I’d like to add an icon that is placed in the header, providing users with access to it no matter which page they are viewing.

Bug Icon located in the header

The Popup

Once the icon is clicked, a modal dialog will open, disabling the rest of the webpage. The user will see the following options.

Bug modal dialog prompt

View current issues will point to the bug tracker. Reporting a new issue will point them to a blank issue form and requesting a new feature/enhancement will point to the same form but with the RFE label set already. All of these links will open new tabs and redirect to our tracker accordingly.

Drawbacks

In order to file issues, you will need to have a GitHub account. Users might not be bothered to sign up (or even sign in), making this feature practically useless to them. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do with our given resources. Forcing them to use our tracker will help keep things centralized and in one place, rather than setting up some kind of form that sends out emails to mailing lists with the given bugs. Fortunately, the links redirect to logging in or creating a new account and then redirect back once done. If the user is willing to follow through, the login process is just a small, extra step and places the user back on track.

Another issue is the potential increase in duplicate bugs. Some people do not have time to read through our current issues and may just jump straight to reporting one. This is not too disruptive but adds to a teadious process for developers now having to close duplicate issues. I am hoping that the “View current issues” link will nudge users in that direction first but that will not always happen.

Finally, some issues are not in the application but in the way it was setup. These need to be directed to the course admin rather than to us. However, this is not always obvious so adding this feature might also cause an overflow of unnecessary bugs. This can be avoided by only displaying the links in the dialog when the user is an admin. When a grader or student is logged in, perhaps a simple message telling them to contact their course administrator/instructor might suffice.

 

This is what I have come up with but I am open to suggestions, please nitpick, modify and comment away!

Written by Danesh

February 26th, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses to 'Resources for bug tracking in MarkUs'

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  1. I love the idea of putting the cute bug icon throughout MarkUs!

    One suggestion I have is to make a label for “issues submitted via MarkUs” and then it would be easy for someone to know which ones need triaging before you look at it as a dev task. And then have all bugs submitted by clicking on these links automatically have that label.

    Tara

    27 Feb 12 at 1:59 am

  2. Since it is through github I guess there is no way to show the user a list of existing issues containing the same keywords as the new issue they are submitting (to decrease the chance of duplicates)? I’m thinking of something similar to when submitting a question to stackoverflow, where it shows a list of “Questions with Similar Titles”.

    Christine

    27 Feb 12 at 5:07 pm

  3. Nice! I like the three choices. Perhaps it would be a good idea to have a preamble like “Here is a link to the MarkUs user guide. If you think you’ve found a bug, use the links provided to file them (Github registration required).” I’m aware that the user guide is pretty rudimentary at the moment, but Nelle is working on making it better. For the time being it can just be a link to: https://github.com/Markusproject/Markus/wiki (or perhaps three links to admin/student/graders user guides).

    Severin

    27 Feb 12 at 5:27 pm

  4. Tara: Great idea! I’ll think of a good label name for it.

    Christine: I could setup a search field, take the keywords and format them but I don’t see the point in this TBH. Since GitHub already does this, it would just be duplicating a feature. Instead, what I could do is rename the first link to “View and search through current issues” or some such. That way, they’re more aware that there are search capabilities. What do you think?

    Severin: Good thinking, I’ll definitely set that up too. I think pointing to the user’s specific guide (admin/grader/student guide) would be best for now.

    Danesh

    3 Mar 12 at 5:36 pm

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