Product Reviews

FogBUGZ 3.0 Squashes Bugs, Dead

What's smarter than tracking your project's bugs from a Web-based system?

FogBUGZ is a Web-based bug-tracking system. Well, bug and feature and problem tracking: all sorts of things that can need to be done with software products can be put in here and shepherded through the development process. It comes from Fog Creek Software, the company founded by Joel Spolsky, whose book on UI design I reviewed a couple of issues ago.

The product is designed to be easy to use, with most of the screens understandable by anyone who's ever participated in formal bug-tracking. For those who haven't, the help is lighthearted and comprehensive -- not only does it cover the nuts and bolts of using the product, but it talks a lot about how to be a great tester and what you can do to make bug-tracking a success in your organization. Though there is no fixed workflow here, there are some immutable points. For instance, though anyone can mark a bug resolved, only the person who opened it can mark it truly closed.

One nice thing is the thorough use of e-mail. You can get e-mails any time a bug affects you, or subscribe for change notification e-mails regarding any bug in the system. You can also set it up so that there's an incoming POP3 account whose messages automatically get entered as bugs. This raised the specter of having spam automatically turned into a bug, but it's still a good idea. You can also set things up to integrate FogBUGZ with your source code control system so that checkin commnents get assinged to the right bug without retyping.

It's easy to find the bugs you're interested in with a variety of filtering and listing options, and as much of the data entry is from dropdown lists as possible. You can edit things like the list of releases or areas for a project (or add new projects), but you can't do things that Fog Creek thinks are pointless distractions -- for instance, you can't add completely freeform extra fields beyond the ones that they supply.

New features in 3.0 include the ability to embed pictures in bugs, the ability to submit bugs without logging in (ideal if you want customers to send bug reports), better filtering, bulk operations, automatic linking between bugs, and better tips and help for beginners.

FogBUGZ runs on IIS and uses either Jet or SQL Server as a database. You can install it on your own server or pay Fog Creek to host it on one of their servers. And if you go over to their Web site, you can sign up for a 45-day free trial and get started on their servers at once. If you're looking for a bug-tracking solution, this is an excellent chance to kick the tires.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Nov 29, 2007 Sarah Anonymous

I found it very frustrating. I keep trying to change the time sheet and it keeps undoing it . It also keeps logging me off. The reports option is downright lousy.

Thu, Dec 7, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

Try TestTracks web interface if you think that FogBugs is not good. We use TestTrack and there is so much work to do to enter a bug that I keep my buglist in a Word Document instead.

Tue, Jul 11, 2006 RS London

We compared both Gemini and FogBugz and for our 30-40 IT user community CounterSoft's Gemini came in at US$280 against FogBugz $4000. Doesn't have as many features - but do you really need them all? We're loving Gemini at the moment.

Fri, Jun 2, 2006 fake Anonymous

All the good ratings are fake.

Thu, May 25, 2006 chis Bangalore

worst better go for other ones

Wed, Mar 15, 2006 danny palo alto

As a QA manager, I've worked with FogBugz now for about a month. It has got to be one of the worst tools for bug tracking that I've ever seen. Aweful GUI & limited flexibility make this product a nightmare for QA engineers. And you want developers to use this thing - forget about it! Right now I'm looking at ExtraView (offering 5 free licenses for the time being) and from what I can see so far, it's a really flexible & robust product - and easy to administer.

Fri, Apr 22, 2005 m1 oaktown

If you are looking for a bug tracking system, use DevTrack. Especially if you are in game development.

Fri, Dec 10, 2004 Chris France

I'm in this business to write programs I sell, not programs that help me write programs. FogBUGZ is cheap, simple and easy to use, includes customer email and a link to version control, so its good enough for me, and better than 2 others I've used for a while.
It also helps me organise maintenance on my boat and my home, which is an added extra!

Thu, Nov 18, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

It's just OK. Not better than Bugzilla
I love Bugzilla

Fri, Oct 15, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

I have no idea, what im saying is excellent but it is in many ways!!!, im the very compliemtative person lol

Mon, Aug 30, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Tried FogBugz. If you never used a bug tracking system it will probably impress you. If you're not a newbie, you'll hit walls pretty quickly. To make things worse, interface is bloated with unnecessary graphics and submit buttons fiddled with. Project management for your grandma, that is.

Tue, Jul 13, 2004 Mako Anonymous

I have run into two types of people. Those who love it and those who hate it. Those who love it, usually like to keep their systems simple which goes hand-in-hand with less bugs, and those who hate it, love complexity which as you guessed, produce more bugs.... go figure

Mon, Jun 7, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Very simple. I like it.

Fri, May 28, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Check sourceforge for other free solutions. Why pay for something like this simple bug tracking application when there are others that are open source (so you can change it if you don't like it) and free! What FogBUGZ does have that other free or open source solutions don't have is a good user interface look. Others look amateurish in comparision. But then they are open source so that can be fixed.

Thu, May 13, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

For amatures

Wed, Feb 4, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Bugzilla is possibly the worst bug tracking software I have ever seen. It is poor beyond all belief. The code is shocking, database design bad, interface slow and ugly. Poor, poor, poor.

FogBugz is everything that Bugzilla is not, and that is why we're switching.

Tue, Jan 13, 2004 Steve Jones UK

I like FogBUGZ a lot. The only thing I don't like about it is those cheesy pictures of puppys, etc that it shows.

Sun, Nov 30, 2003 Pete UK

I haven't used the software, but I agree entirely with the thinking behind it. So much so, in fact, that I wrote a system for my team along the same lines (we're rather pre-startup, and don't have the money to spend.)

We didn't plan to roll our own - we thought there must be hundreds of suitable (free) systems out there. So the first place we looked was Bugzilla. And it sucks.

Let me qualify that. It sucks for us, for our needs. Unsurprising, since it's meant for a large open-source project with thousands of random people reporting bugs directly into it. It's probably good at what it was designed for, but it's no good for a team of five programmers, a tester, and a manager.

And I agree with the No Custom Fields idea too. We rejected a lot of existing systems because the new Bug page looked like the control panel of a nuclear submarine, and scared us away instantly. If entering bugs isn't childishly easy, they won't get entered.

Wed, Oct 29, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

we gave it a spin some weeks ago vie their 45 day trial. truly a remarkable pice of software.

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Bugzilla, Bugzilla, Bugzilla. Stop wasting your time and money. Got it? No?! Once again: Bugzilla, Bugzilla, Bugzilla.

Thu, Aug 7, 2003 L.H. Santiago, Chile

Oh, also don't forget to read the discussion forum. It's just great.

Thu, Aug 7, 2003 L. H. Santiago, Chile

Lots of noise about custom fields. The guys at Fog Creek did the right thing with not allowing it; sure, they lost some sales, but I still haven't found a single person that don't like this simple software.
And, if you don't like it, they refund your money, no questions. Now that qualify as "cool" according to my book.

Sun, Jul 20, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Better than some but fairly limited in functionality. If your not using anything then sure this is a good tool... but if you have some pretty firm needs then the lack of customization will rule this product out.

Fri, Jul 11, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Is there comparison with Bugzilla?

Wed, Jul 2, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Its simple, it works, its does what its supposed to to it can be integrated with various version control applications (I'm using it with cvs), its affordable and its relatively painless to install.

If you don't like the philosophy it espouses then there are any number of alternatives. So... a good product and a good review.

Thu, Jun 5, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Man, people must really hate Joel. FogBugz is great. It is simple, and that is what is so great about. Anyone in your orginazation will be able to pick it up and keep at it. Programmers hate to do things that take to long, except to program. In a matter of seconds I can have a bug updated and out of my hands. Oh, but what about custom fields you say? Well, they give you the source code, and you are a software company, so add them yourself. Just my 2 cents. For the money you can't go wrong.

Thu, Jun 5, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

This is a brilliant piece of software. It's simple, effective and intelligent.

Wed, Jun 4, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

The software is ok. It doesn't really deliver anything more in terms of efficiency than a decent manager could do with a spreadsheet or the Outlook task list, but it isn't exactly expensive either. Worth the money if you're new to managing software development.

Fri, May 30, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

If you believe the two 4 star comments to be from real people you are a more trusting guy than me.

Mon, Mar 3, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

FogBUGZ allows my small software company to work efficiently with a virtual staff. I create the requirements and my developers code to them. Then we test together, and I close out any bug, feature or inquiry I created. Excellent collaboration tool for the virtual enterprise. I have worked with the big big enterprise bug trackers and find the endless addition of custom fields therein to be exactly the barrier to adoption that the FogBUGZ folks did. Kudos to them for sticking to their guns and keeping the product focused and usable.

Thu, Jan 2, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

What is there to say that can't be learned from taking advantage of the free trial?

It's just plain great. Very helpful, very useful, and a great value for the money. In short, the best bang for your buck that I've found.

One thing that really is needed in future versions, however, is to reduce the platform dependence as much as can be done. Then even more people could benefit from this software.

It might never be available for use with both Apache and MySQL, but one can dream...

Wed, Jan 1, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

The whole idea of not doing custom fields is the stupidest thing i've ever heard. Their was huge demand for it, but FogCreek decided not to put it in because it's founder felt is was necessary to 'school' people on how to do things. Too bad. It's lousy software.

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