Nov 9, 2023
5 min read
A good bug report certainly helps to save time and effort. Additionally, it helps to resolve issues faster. Quality software released with faster time-to-market is the result of it.
Table of Content
No software is bug-free. Bugs or issues are inevitable in software development. Generally, the QA engineers are responsible for finding and reporting them. Debugging is the word most often used for the process of fixing bugs. Well, this might be an understatement. QA has to find them first, report to the developers, and only after that they are fixed. Debugging can be most specifically considered as a collective process. Often, it’s not easy and can be tedious and time-consuming.
Bug reports by the QA engineers bear the responsibility of communicating with the developers effectively. A poorly written and shared bug report can be a cause of frustration for all. Modern projects usually have tight deadlines for market release. There is also a chain of people associated with a project other than the software team like the stakeholders, analysts, and more.
Time is of the essence. A good bug report certainly helps to save time and effort. Additionally, it helps to resolve issues faster. Quality software released with faster time-to-market is the result of it.
A good bug report makes debugging not only easier but also keeps the software teams happy, more specifically the developers. But the reality is that the bug reports may vary in effectiveness.
Some reports may be good and some pretty bad. There is a very thin line between a good bug report and a bad one. There may be cases in which the bug reports can be terrible. This can become a source of confusion. Needless to say, it wastes valuable time and can leave team members in disarray.
Let’s try to answer some pressing questions around the topic of effective bug reporting.
Here is an overview of the post.
Bug reports must be concise and clear. At the same time, it must not be vague in presenting the issue. Bug reports are the true source of communication between the QA engineers and developers. Writing a good bug report can help to solve issues effectively with speed. In a nutshell, this can help to make software better with faster market releases.
Let’s go through some important things to include while writing a structured and effective bug report :
The title of the bug report must be very specific and should not require any additional explanations to understand.
Important details about the pre-conditions in which the issue was found must be included. For example, the OS information, the software version, the device, the environment, and the browser details.
The exact steps with a concise description to reproduce the issue must be included. It's preferable to include numbered steps to reproduce. This helps the developer retrace it in case some steps are repeated or if there are pre-conditions before going to the next step. The context must also be included to be more precise.
A clear difference or inconsistency between the actual results and the expected results must be highlighted.
The report must be checked and rectified for grammatical errors since avoiding them can confuse the developers or the other team members.
Words such as maybe, like, sometimes, etc. should be left alone. This is even more confusing when edge cases are being referred to in a report.
Writing a report is an art. It’s important to focus on writing a good report rather than blaming other team members for the issue at hand. Being polite while reporting can make a huge difference and helps in better cooperation.
Project management tools are a great way to report bugs. It won’t be wrong to say that tools like Jira, Trello, and similar others are favorites among software teams. They help in tracking issues or bugs and help manage the projects efficiently.
They have the capabilities to create, manage, and track bugs and issues in clean ways. They help in keeping everything organized and the concerned people in the loop.
These tools have pre-built templates with important fields to describe issues with clarity. Let’s see the fields that are most common among these bug-tracking templates. This helps the developers to understand bugs for fixes.
A brief description of the issue
A clear and crisp description of the issue along with the underlying details. The steps to reproduce are usually placed in the description area. The steps must be clear and not at all vague or too difficult to understand. Avoiding tough words is also a key to better understanding.
It is always considered good practice to include screen captures or a recording of the issue while reporting bugs. Needless to say, it’s the most important part of a bug report.
It's important to share the system logs with the developer like the console statement, network logs, system information, etc. to report the issue with clear contexts.
This is according to the importance or urgency of fixing issues. The level is majorly focused on the user-end or the project needs. Low, medium, or High are the options usually available in this field.
This is according to the impact of the issue. Some issues can hugely impact software and others may not. For example, if an online store is selling a product with an error in the product description, this may be a minor issue. But if the price is written wrongly, this can be a critical issue for the store.
The issues must also be mentioned for their status to be clear on the progress. Whether it's open, pending, in progress, closed, etc.
This field makes sure that the developer is aware of the person who reported the issue. This way, if the developers need any additional information, he/she can contact the concerned person.
The name or alias of the developer who is supposed to look after and fix the issue.
If there are additional files related to the issue, they must be shared with the developer as well just to make sure that the bug fixes can be done efficiently.
Writing an effective bug report requires a good ability to present the issue most factually. This is one of the most difficult areas while writing bug reports. This not only requires the reporters to understand the issue themselves but also to make others understand, especially the developers.
Failing to write a convincing bug report can lead to rejections, delays, or unnecessary conflicts. A good bug report must have sufficient evidence for the issue to enable frictionless collaboration with the developers.
As we already mentioned earlier in the post about writing a bug report, here are some additional ways to make your bug report convincing:
It’s a good practice to refer to the requirement sheets or files to make a bug report more convincing. For example, if the screen flow in software is wrong, it’s always good to add references to user stories, project specifications, or requirements for more clarity.
Whenever trying to convince the developers or other team members about the issues, presenting the issue with clear explanations of how an issue can impact the reliability, related functionality, usability, security, etc can contribute to better context explanations.
It’s always better to be one step ahead before reporting issues. If a bug report makes it evident that the issue is not limited to a single device, this can convince the developer better that it is not an isolated or random issue.
A short example can make the bug report much better to read and understand. This is usually helpful while explaining edge cases where the issue may not be very obvious but can impact the existing system on occasions similar to the mentioned example or user experience.
Adding annotations or comments can help the developers pinpoint the focus areas. This helps to communicate better and get more information from the reporter in the quickest possible way. Additionally, it minimizes the use of emails every now and then. It can also ensure that the reporter is up to speed with the developer whenever required for quick follow-ups.
We went through some of the effective and expert ways to write nice bug reports in this post. The engineers who created BetterBugs have closely analyzed the QA scenarios and come up with effective solutions for better bug reports.
You can download BetterBugs for free and create amazing bug reports with all the details. We know the pain of bad bug reports and we want to solve it for you.
We would like to the software community and especially the QA engineers who kept us motivated before and after the product release. We will be thrilled to know your views on our product and help us resolve, one bug at a time.
Thanks for stopping by. We’ll see you soon again with more exciting posts.