Black outline of a bubble bee over a field of wild flowers

Picture of a ladybug

As a professional software engineer, I deal with bug reports all the time. As a result, I have had my fair share of tickets which read something along the lines of: “<insert arbitrary feature here> is not working!!!”.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong believer in Kaizen (Japanese for a “system of continuous improvement”) and as a result, I love getting bug reports. They create a great opportunity to fix something in the software which may have otherwise gone unnoticed or turned a user away from out software. I do however, also believe that a lot of time could be saved if bugs are reported properly, so here are some tips on how to report bugs:

1. Take screenshots

A picture paints a thousand words. Where possible, always provide a screenshot of the error message or problem you have. These are very helpful when debugging an issue because the developer can get see exactly what the error looked like when it appeared.

2. Describe the steps

List the steps you took before you saw the bug, in a number list. This might look like this:

  1. Logged into the app
  2. Selected messages on the right
  3. Opened my latest message
  4. The app crashed

3. Give specifics

Assume that everything is relevant. Be as specific as possible when describing the issue. Provide details such as:

  • The username of the account you were logged in as
  • Operating system/device you were using
  • The time the bug appeared
  • The last screen you saw before the bug happened
  • Any error code (developers LOVE error codes)
  • What you ate for dinner

The more specific the information you give the more the developer has to work with.

4. Include only one problem per ticket

If you have noticed more than one bug, it might be tempting to bundle them all into the same ticket. The problem with this is that an engineer will likely add specific notes relating to a bug to the ticket as they are debugging the issue. This is so if a bug is assigned to a colleague, they can easily pick up where the previous engineer left off. This can become confusing if a ticket is referring to multiple different bugs.

Do the above and your bug will likely be identified and fixed much faster by the development team.



Ladybird photo by Alfie Ianni: