Bug Tracking Tools 2: FogBugz

As we have seen, bug tracking tools are a very important piece of your It infrastructure. Some tools aims to be a storing ticketing system (like Remedy), others a simple bug tracking tool.  In this second post we are going to analyze one of them, called FogBugz

FogBugz

At a glance

FogBugz is a commercial software. It has two distribution policies: a licensed one (starting from 300$) , and an hosted on demand (at 25$ per user per month).
Developed in ASP, FogBugz has been migrated also to Linux/MacOSX as a PHP+MySQL+Mono application.

The on demand version is free for two user. You can change your subscription whenever you want, and the support is very good.
I have the lucky to install Fogbugz version 4.0 for Windows when I worked for a software house, and it was a snap to set up: installation procedure was very good. Now we are at version 6.0, with more interesting feature.

Deep Analysis

At Gioorgi.com we think it is important to use open source software for your core services. Core services include infrastructure libraries too. The bug tracking software is important for your business, neverless it is not core.
So you must ask you how much time do you want to use setting up a bug tracking software, or if it is better to buy one.  In this first article we will overview the “buy” option…

First of all, in a software house bug tracking software is like a wiki or a version control software: you do not need to have the complete control on it, because it is not part of your delivered software.

Often, you need to reduce the start up time for the development infrastructure. And after installation  you need to do training to your project manager, fine tune the tools, configure it and so on.

FogBugz can work out of the box in zero time: the on demand version is up and running in less then 5 minutes (included projects configuration).

So you can focus on the organization of your software.
FogBugz has a very good designed interface, focused for small software house with delivery in mind.

The bug filtering interface is Ajax-enabled and very well done. The main trick is to hide complexity of the queries via a drop down.

It provides wikis and forums also.

Fogbugz simplicity has a drawback: you can define only two custom fields, so you are a bit forced with its way of addressing your work.

If you are searching a customer care ticketing system, FogBugz is not a flexible choice.

Evidence Based Scheduling

Last but not least, FogBugz 6 delivers some project management feature, giving you the ability to track your project and your team together:

Using a statistical technique we developed called Evidence-Based Scheduling (EBS), FogBugz displays a probability curve of ship dates, showing you the probability that you’ll ship on any given date. You can find out how realistic that official date is, so you can tell your boss with a straight face: “Yes, we can ship on time. With 4% probability.”

The EBS is simple, and works well (we have tested it on a small project).

Conclusion

FogBugz is the recommended tool if you have no time and want to deliver a very good product to your end users. Manual is well written, and email integration is good.

Pros:
User interface is done very well, also with ajax support.
It is has also project management feature.
Email is very well integrated: customer can open tickets via email, track it and so on.
No lock in effect: you can easily export your db from the on demand version.
If you need a customer interaction it is an ace: a very nice tool can be used to notify bugs.

Cons:
Only two custom field out of the box. Too simple to some extent.
Heavy resource usage on Linux (150MB for PHP5, 2Gb of overall ram recommended).
It requires a lot of prerequisites (like Mono and a custom shared libraries, supported only for x86)

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