QW2000 Paper 7M2

Mr. Rex Black
(Rex Black Consulting Services, Inc.)

The Fine Art of Writing a Good Bug Report


Key Points

Presentation Abstract

In a speech at Quality Week '99, Roger Sherman, a Microsoft test manager, identified the leading cause of bug report closure as "unreproducible." This is a regrettable circumstance, since such bug reports waste precious time during tight development schedules, add absolutely nothing to product quality, and lead to frustration and bad feelings between development engineers and test engineers. Sometimes, these bug reports arise from transient or random events, inconsistency of tools and configurations between test and development, or a vague definition of "correct" behavior under the tested conditions, but many bug reports closed as unreproducible are unclear, misleading, or just plain wrong.

Fortunately, I have learned some tricks for writing great bug reports that get management attention, communicate clearly to developers, and get fixed. Not only do these techniques provide solid technical payoffs in terms of a greater proportion of bugs fixed, they also communicate to development and to management that testers are serious about helping developers fix bugs. Writing bugs reports using these methods on projects I have managed, only around one out of eight of bug reports are closed without a fix.

About the Author

Rex Black has almost two decades in the computer industry, primarily in testing and quality assurance. He is the President and Principal Consultant of Rex Black Consulting Services, Inc., an international software and hardware testing and quality assurance consultancy. RBCS' clients include Dell, Sun, First USA/Bank One, Hitachi, Netpliance, Motorola, Omnipoint, Pacific Bell, Clarion, and others. His work with these clients has taken him to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, the U.K., Canada, Germany, Holland, France, Spain, Switzerland, and Italy, along with locations throughout the United States.

Rex is the author of Managing the Testing Process , published by Microsoft Press in their Best Practices series,. He gives speeches, presents papers, and teaches tutorials at events such as Quality Week, Practical Software Quality Techniques, Software Testing and Analysis Review, and others on topics related to software testing.

He is also a Trainer for the International Institute for Software Testing, teaching their certification course (CSTP) on software test management.

Mr. Black holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Engineering from UCLA. He belongs to the Association for Computer Machinery and the American Society for Quality.