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Making Software by Greg Wilson, Andy Oram

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Conclusions

Bug reports are central to maintaining the quality of software systems. Their information contents help developers identify the cause of the failure and resolve it. But for this to happen, it is important that the information in the bug reports be reliable and complete.

But what makes a good bug report? In this chapter, we have presented the findings from a survey of developers and bug reporters from three large open source software products to identify which contents contribute to the information quality of bug reports from the perspective of those surveyed. Responses to our survey sent to developers indicated the importance of stack traces, steps to reproduce the bug, and expected and observed behavior in resolving bugs. Reporters indicated a similar set of important items as useful to help resolve bugs, but interestingly their responses also showed that they frequently don’t provide such information, i.e., there is a mismatch between what information developers expect and what reporters provide.

Bug tracking systems can be enhanced to mitigate such information mismatch between developers and reporters. Several automations can be built in for data collection (such as stack traces from crashes), and the interfaces can be improved to remind reporters to add certain information. Our extensive study on bug duplicates has shown that duplicate bug reports often contain additional and useful information, so perhaps such new information should be automatically merged with the ...

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