How To Write Better Bug Reports

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Summary:

Testers spend a considerable amount of time helping others reproduce the bugs they find. But the author of this article believes if testers wrote better and more effective bug reports, we wouldn't have to spend so much time helping others find our bugs. This article shows you how to improve your bug reports.

How often do we see the developers requiring more information on the bug reports filed by us? How often do we need to spend more time investigating on the issue after the bug report has been filed? How often do we get to hear from the developers that the bug is not reproducible on their end and we need to improvise on the Steps To Reproduce ? In a broad sense, we end up spending more time on these issues rather than investing more time testing the system. The problem lies in the quality of bug reports. Here are some areas which can be improved upon to achieve that perfect bug report.

The Purpose Of A Bug Report
When we uncover a defect, we need to inform the developers about it. Bug report is a medium of such communication. The primary aim of a bug report is to let the developers see the failure with their own eyes. If you can't be with them to make it fail in front of them, give them detailed instructions so that they can make it fail for themselves. The bug report is a document that explains the gap between the expected result and the actual result and detailing on how to reproduce the scenario.

After Finding The Defect

  • Draft the bug report just when you are sure that you have found a bug, not after the end of test or end of day. It might be possible that you might miss out on some point. Worse, you might miss the bug itself.
  • Invest some time to diagnose the defect you are reporting. Think of the possible causes. You might land up uncovering some more defects. Mention your discoveries in your bug report. The programmers will only be happy seeing that you have made their job easier.
  • Take some time off before reading your bug report. You might feel like re-writing it.

The Summary
The summary of the bug report is the reader's first interaction with your bug report. The fate of your bug heavily depends on the attraction grabbed by the summary of your bug report. The rule is that every bug should have a one-liner summary. It might sound like writing a good attention-grabbing advertisement campaign. But then, there are no exceptions. A good summary will not be more than 50-60 characters. Also, a good summary should not carry any subjective representations of the defect.

The Language

  • Do not exaggerate the defect through the bug report. Similarly, do not undertone it.
  • However nasty the bug might be, do not forget that it's the bug that's nasty, not the programmer. Never offend the efforts of the programmer. Use euphemisms. "Dirty UI" can be made milder as "Improper UI". This will take care that the programmer's efforts are respected
  • Keep It Simple & Straight. You are not writing an essay or an article, so use simple language.
  • Keep your target audience in mind while writing the bug report. They might be the developers, fellow testers, managers, or in some cases, even the customers. The bug reports should be understandable by all of them.

Steps To Reproduce

  • The flow of the Steps To Reproduce should be logical.
  • Clearly list down the pre-requisites.
  • Write generic steps. For example, if a step requires the user to create file and name it, do not ask the user to name it like "Mihir’s file". It can be better named as "Test File".
  • The Steps To Reproduce should be detailed. For example, if you want the user to save a document from Microsoft Word, you can ask the user to

About the author

Mihir Kamdar's picture Mihir Kamdar

Mihir Kamdar is a QA Lead at eInfochips, Ahmedabad (India). The author has an experience of over 6 years in system testing and development. The author can be reached at mihir.kamdar@gmail.com.

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