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Team Productivity

How to Write a Bug Report Your Software Developers Appreciate

Laura LaPrad
February 28, 2019
how to write a useful software bug report
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Any software engineer knows you won’t crank out perfect code every time. No matter how sharp your skills or rigorous your testing, a few bugs are bound to slip through the cracks every now and then.

But bugs don’t have to bring you down.

With a clear reporting process in place, your team can detect and debug issues quickly so your software gets back on track with minimal downtime and customer frustration.

What’s a bug report?

Before we dig into the nitty-gritty details of bug reporting, let’s pause for a moment to define it. A bug report is basically the roadmap you give your developers to help them get to the bottom of a software issue and fix it.  

You might submit a bug report through a formal ticketing system or project management tool. That way your software engineers can take the report and track the issue all the way to resolution.  

So what information do you need to include to write a useful bug report for your developers?

I went straight to the source and asked Tyson Nero and Ray Goitia, two of our own software engineers, to break down what goes into a good bug report. At TeamGantt, Tyson cranks out tons of code, while Ray’s our QA testing champ.

Here’s what they recommend.

Software bug reporting basics to identify the issue

Let’s start with the basics. These must-haves are the pillars of any standard bug report.

Brief description of the bug

The first thing you’ll want to do is give that bug a name. Keep it short and sweet, with just enough detail to tell your engineering team what’s happening and what feature is affected.

Steps to reproduce the bug

It’s also important to explain how you uncovered the defect in the first place. Consider these questions:

  • Does the issue happen sporadically, or can you duplicate it?
  • If the bug is reproducible, what steps does it take to recreate it?

“The more details the better,” Ray says. “When you can duplicate an issue, the easier it is to find the cause.”

Expected result

Your mom may have told you to shake “coulda, woulda, shoulda” from your vocabulary. But this line of thinking shines in bug reporting. Write down what should have happened when you took the steps that set the bug into action.

Actual result with a screenshot or screen capture

Now that you’ve laid your expectations out clearly, it’s time to describe the reality in all its ugly, buggy detail. Remember, a picture’s worth a thousand words. Attach a screenshot or screen capture of the issue to score extra brownie points with your dev team.

Next-level details to enhance your software bug report

If you really want to throw your dev team a solid, Tyson suggests giving them some additional info to work with. These extras can help your software engineers get to the root of the problem faster and figure out where the fix fits into the rest of their priorities.

Environment details

This is just a fancy way of saying: Where does the bug live and hide? Here’s how to point the way so your developers can hunt the defect down more quickly.

  • Which browsers are affected?
  • Is the problem happening on certain devices?
  • What operating system (OS) were you or the customer using?

Issue scope

Knowing how many customers the bug impacts—and even what it’s potentially costing you—helps your software engineering team determine the severity of the issue. That way they can prioritize the fix appropriately.

Bonus points: Browser console errors

Admittedly, this one falls into the more advanced bug reporting camp. But it’s an awesome way to win your dev team over with your mad troubleshooting skills. 😍

The browser console gives developers a behind-the-scenes look at the web app action. This handy tutorial shows you how to access the console in various browsers. Once you get there, you can take a screenshot of any errors you see logged in your console, and attach it to your bug report.

Software bug report example

There are lots of different ways to document and track software issues.

At TeamGantt, our Customer Success team adds a task to our bug tracking project and captures important bug report details in the task Notes. We use Comments for uploading screenshots and any back-and-forth discussions needed to resolve the issue.

Here’s an example of how one of our bug reports might look:

Teamwork makes the dream work

We’ve outlined a few bug reporting basics to help you get started. But every product and team is different.

Use these guidelines to kick off a conversation with your own software engineering team, and ask them what details they’d like to see in a bug report. Together, you’ll be on your way to bug-squashing success! 🎊

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And because all the project action happens online, you can share progress and collaborate with your team and stakeholders in real time. No more boring spreadsheets or chasing down project updates before a big meeting!

Give TeamGantt a free try today!

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