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Bug trackers and version control

Published by Martin Kleppmann on 31 Jul 2008.

I believe strongly that teams of software engineers should have good tools which help to manage the development process (as a minimum, bug tracking and version control of source code). We use Subversion and FogBugz, but there are lots of other good tools too. These tools get particularly useful when connected, so that it’s possible to see e.g. which changes were made to the code in order to fix a particular bug.

The usual way of connecting version control and issue tracking is that developers must enter a bug number every time they make a commit to the source code repository. And because most version control systems don’t foresee integration with a bug tracker, this is usually this is just a special string in the commit message (“BUG:12345”). A bit ugly, but works.

A neater way of doing this, for users of  Subclipse or TortoiseSVN, is to set a few magic properties in the base directory of your project. These graphical front-ends detect the presence of those properties and add a separate input box for the bug number to the commit dialog. The number entered there just gets translated into a line in the commit message, so it’s nothing magic, but it helps as a reminder to put in the bug number, and avoids having to remember the syntax for the bug reference (was it “Bug:12345” or “Bug#12345”?).

Full details of this ‘bugtraq’ convention are described on the “svn commit ./me” blog.

Here’s what it looks like:

Screenshot of
bug tracker, subversion and eclipse integration