Bugzilla – progress made and new thoughts

A few weeks ago I published a post entitled Some Thoughts on Improving Bugzilla. The post got a fair bit a traction and received a large number of supportive comments. But what was best, about the post, about open source, about Mozilla, is that it drew me into a serious of conversations with people who wanted to make some of it reality.

Specifically, I’d like to thank Guy Pyrzak over at Bugzilla and Clint Talbert at Mozilla both of whom spent hours entertaining and conversing about these ideas with me, problem solving them and, if we are really honest, basically doing all the heavy lifting to transform them from ideas on this blog into real changes.

So in this post I have two things to share. First is an update on progress from the ideas in the last post (which will be this post) as well as some new thoughts about how Mozilla instance of Bugzilla could be further improved (which will be my next post).

So here we go…


1. Simplifying Menus

First up I made some suggestions around simplifying the bugzilla landing page. These were pretty cosmetic, but they make the landing page a little less intimidating to a new user and, frankly, nicer for everyone. We are presently drafting up the small changes to the code that would require this change and getting ready to submit it as a proposal. Status – Yellow.

2. Gather more information about our users (and, while I’m at it, some more simplifying)

Second, I outlined some ideas for streamlining the process of joining bugzilla and on the data we collect about users.

On the first part, which is about the steamlined pages (designed to help ensure that true bug submitters end up in bugzilla and not those seeking support) here too we will be submitting some new proposed pages shortly. Status – Yellow

On the second part I suggested that we ask users if they English is their second language and that we mark new bugzilla accounts with a “new” symbol. Guy is coding up an extension to Bugzilla that will both of these. Once done, I’ll suggest to Mozilla that they include this extension in their instance. Status – Green.

3. Make Life Easier for Users and the Triage Guys

I thought we could make life more efficient for triage and users if we added a status where bugs could be declared “RESOLVED-SUPPORT.” There’s been some reception to this idea. However, the second part of this idea is that once a bug is tagged as such a script automatically should scan the support database, find articles with a strong word correlation to the bug description and email the bug submitter links to those pages. Once again, Guy has stepped forward to develop such an extension which hopefully will be working in the not to distant future. Status – Green.

4. Make Bugzilla Celebrate, enhance our brand and build community

But probably the most exciting part is the final suggestion. That we send (at least non-developers) much nicer emails celebrating that the bug they submitted has been patched. It turns out (hardly surprising) that I wasn’t the first person to think that Bugzilla should be able to send HTML emails. Indeed, that feature request was first made back in 2001 and, when I blogged about this the other week, had not be updated since 2006. Once again, Guy has proven to be unbelievably helpful. It turns out that due to some changes to bugzilla many of the blocks to patching this had disappeared and so he has been working on the code. Status – Green.

Lots here for many people to be proud of. Hopefully some of these ideas will go live in the not too distant future. That said, still many hurdles to clear and if you are a decision maker on any of these and would like to talk about these ideas, please do not hesitate to contact me.