Tips and tricks for writing bug reports software developers appreciate

In this article, you’ll find tips & tricks for filing a software defect and learn what information developers really want you to include in the bug report.

What is a Bug Report?

A bug report is a basic way to inform the developers of the problems software users ran into. Apart from that, it also facilitates cross-departmental communication – management gets updates on the product development quality, while the dev team can prioritize their debugging tasks. 

Unfortunately, the phrase “Houston, We Have a Problem” is too laconic for anyone except, maybe, the Mission Control Center in Texas. So let’s take a look at the core characteristics of a quality bug report that should cover all the key information about the defect detected: 

  • Explicitness. Your report should be specific about the issue and detailed about the bug behavior;
  • Compactness. Go for the essential and skip the noise;
  • Uniqueness. Always check whether the occurred problem has already been listed. If so, consider adding information to the existing report.

Significance of Bug Report Structure

Another important rule of bug reporting is to keep in mind that you are a software user and not Leo Tolstoy. Even if you believe the thrill of the bug hunting process is identical to the battle scenes in War and Peace, developers would prefer the tester to skip the fuss.

Bug Reporting Etiquette

The saying “you are what you write” is equally relevant both for novelists and software testers. Concise bug reporting and the tone of writing earn you a good reputation. Reports that seem rude, blaming or petty create a negative impression among developers. 

Here, we outlined the basic principles of polite bug reporting:

  • Be careful of your tone as every developer you criticize will eventually see the report;
  • Don’t edit the existing bug reports without the owners’ permission; whenever you add anything, put your initials and the current date;
  • Don’t use the bug-tracking systems to monitor other developers’ and testers’ performance;
  • Make personal contacts with developers who will read your reports so it would be easier for you to write more thoughtfully.

It goes without saying that behind every successfully launched project, there are dozens of bug reports aimed to protect the product’s reputation. Yes, this is your chance to save the day. So make sure your bug reports are clear, concise, thoughtful and, of course, polite.