As a developer and a tester, I've always been on the lookout for good tools and methods for keeping track of bugs, issues, and incidents that occur with software development. Needless to say, there are an enormous amount of tools out there for doing this. Just do a Google search on “bug tracking" and you'll be amazed at the number of hits you'll get. Many of these products are great and do a fantastic job, but for a cost. If you're going the open source route, then you'll discover that there are many different products to choose from. But in many cases, the tool is either limited in functionality, is too complex to configure or use, or has no support. Among all these tools, there is one that stands out above the rest. This is the Mantis Bug Tracker! Mantis is an web based bug tracking system that utilizes a back end SQL database with a easy to use web interface. Mantis is an open source project on Sourceforge.net. Thus, Mantis is “free"! Now, before you start to run away with the “free = junk" mentality, you really ought to give Mantis a serious look. Here's why:
First of all, Mantis has a huge user base. Lots of users means lots of support! The discussion forum on the web site is a great resource for getting answers to your questions.
The product has reached a mature state. When I started using Mantis 5 years ago, I thought it was great then! But now I'm REALLY impressed! The product continues to grow and be supported by the user community. This has got to be one of the easiest installations that I've had the pleasure to experience. You call your ISP and have them turn on your MySQL server account. Then using your MySQL interface, you past in the SQL script for creating the database structure. You make a couple minor changes to one script file, and then you run the installer. Then BANG - you're in!
Mantis is highly configurable. I once set up Mantis as a Service Request Tracking System - for keeping track of incoming service calls and requests for a PC Repair business. It worked great! The owner and technicians were highly impressed with being able to receive an email everytime a service request came in.
Mantis is available in 30 different languages with more on the way. There are multiple filters for looking at the list of bugs in just about any order you want.
Mantis provides the ability to have the testers and users enter new bugs. An email is automatically sent to the person assigned as the project manager. The PM can then assign and prioritize the bug. The assignee receives an email with the assignment. When the bug has been fixed, the developer can flag it thus. And then the PM or QA can verify and close the bug. Multiple projects can be managed in a single database. A project can be flagged as public or private.
Graphs can be generated with the JPGraphs addon tool. (Also, an Open Source Project. )
The documentation on the web site is very extensive and includes user contributed notes.
AND I was totally impressed with the ability to save and export my bug reports into Word and Excel files.
The ART of Software Development in Mantis is in the fact that it was originally created as a MOIIN application. (The Mother Of Invention Is Necessity. ) (And yes, I made up the acronym. ;)) The developer wanted a “free" application for tracking the bugs in his game development project. Finding none, he dove in and created Mantis. There was such a huge response to his efforts that he decided to rewrite and release Mantis to the public. And the fact that so many people are using Mantis speaks volumes about its usefulness.
Personally, I've spent a lot of hours pouring over a massive number of packages available for issue tracking. I always end up coming back to Mantis. The price can't be beat. And for those who don't want to install and configure a Mantis Bug Tracking System then they offer a “Hosted" plan for a minimum cost.
I foresee that Mantis will be around for a long time. And whenever I have influence on the decision of and use of a software bug tracking system then Mantis will be my choice!
Timothy Trimble, The ART of Software Development
Timothy Trimble is a award winning, freelance writer, and software developer. He has written a book for Microsoft Press, articles for significant computer industry trade magazines, and is currently working on his second computer technology book to be published in early 2006. He is the Blog publisher of The ART of Software Development which can be found via his web site at http://www.timothytrimble.info
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