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Joel on Software

2003/03/14

by Joel Spolsky
Friday, March 14, 2003

AngryCoder: “FogBUGZ is very well designed, and virtually bug free. Frankly, if you are in the market for a defect tracking solution, you can’t do much better than FogBUGZ. It is by far the best solution on the market right now, and is also very attractively priced.” Thanks!

Joseph Jones, who wrote the review, didn’t like the perceived lack of customizability in FogBUGZ. I hear ya. This was one of those agonizing decisions for us. It’s a tradeoff between implementing features that make the sale, versus implementing features that, we think, will make people who use our software love it, which helps in the long term. At the time it was discussed in depth here on Joel on Software.

Take, for example, a typical report a bug tracking package gives you that shows you the number of bugs generated per day per programmer. Typical bad managers will use that tool to punish programmers with high bug counts or reward programmers with low bug counts. As a result, every time a tester tries to enter a bug, the programmer will argue about it. “That's not really a bug.” “Please don't enter it, I'll fix it on the side for you.” Eventually the bug tracking system subverts itself. That's not FogBUGZ's fault, but there you have it. Nobody wants to use it, they never upgrade, they don't buy more licenses when they get more programmers, and we lose the potential word of mouth.

The current system, in which we expect FogBUGZ users to have enlightened development processes, makes us miss out on initial sales but it makes our existing customers happier. And they tell friends, and they buy more and more licences, and all is good. We've found that anyone who has been using FogBUGZ and moves on to a new job that doesn't have bug tracking will recommend FogBUGZ at their new job, which is one reason our sales are up by about 200% since last year.

But this is all, to some extent, speculation. I can't prove anything here. Design decisions are hard that way.


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