Home > Uncategorized > What I like (and don't) about Opera's bug reporting

What I like (and don't) about Opera's bug reporting

December 15, 2006

One of the new things I’ve learned since joining Opera is how active Opera is with responding to bug reports. Opera’s current Bug Tracking System (BTS) is only open to Opera employees, and not viewable to outsiders, even to the bug reporters themselves.

For a long time already many Opera users have requested that Opera open up their bug database. I believe if Opera were to open their BTS, it would encourage more users to report broken sites in the Opera browser, besides for the fact that transparency is a good thing in general.

Before I joined Opera Software, I rarely submitted bug reports, mostly because I never saw any work being done to my reports and I didn’t feel motivated enough.

Now, however, I have access to all bug reports, and I see how quick the fine folks at Opera are in trying to squash reported bugs. Since joining Opera Software I’ve submitted many bug reports for broken sites in Opera (even minor ones), and usually within a day (sometimes within hours) the reported broken pages have already been dissected and the problem found.

Just today my brother-in-law sent me an IM with a link to a broken page in Opera, before reporting it as a bug; I searched the bug database (BTS), and found that a similar bug was reported yesterday. A likely cause for the page display problem was already brought up in the comments for that bug report.

I see now how valuable these bug reports are to Opera and its users. If you encounter a webpage that doesn’t display properly in the browser, do us Opera users a favor, report it. You can make a difference.

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  1. GianAo
    December 15, 2006 at 3:38 pm

    I just feel as you felt before 🙂

    I don’t know which is the state of a bug, but i neither know which bugs i submitted 😦

    Furthermore, which is the difference for you between a Bug Report through bugs.opera.com and the menu help -> Report a site problem…
    Which is more useful (or more followed) for you?

  2. December 15, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    GianAo, submitting a bug report through bugs.opera.com/wizard is much more effective than Help -> Report a site problem.

  3. December 15, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    There’s a usability principle in here somewhere- we should ask Ken Maage (kmaage) to chime in 🙂 But there’s something to be said for “out of site out of mind” It’s just not very encouraging to submit something in the great binary beyond and never hear anything back about it’s status… what it recieved? is the reproduced? Does anyone care about it? Is Jon V.T. himself frantically directing all of the Opera staff to resolve this issue? Or did it print out on a piece of paper that floated to the floor and everyone there is stepping on/over it for the last three weeks on the way to the cantina for international meals (Which country is it this week?)

    In any event- the big question marks make a difference. Like I said here it’s the fact that we’re being listened to means the most….and yes, I realize Opera already does a great job of listening, but still there’s a *LOT* of users, I know you can’t make us all happy.

  4. Kamalesh
    December 15, 2006 at 8:11 pm

    Thanks for answering the question I was going to ask, before GianAo did, Daniel.

    I’ve noticed that Safari has a bug button that allows check-off boxes to send a screenshot of a broken page and/or source code of the page. May be worth adding thatt to Opera’s “Help->Report site problem” menu.

    Most non-tech Opera users won’t send a bug report with a reproducible itemized action list, but can certainly go through the simple bug menu item, I think. Hopefully the “Help->Report…” items can be better folded into the bug reporting process at Opera…

    Thanks for the inside info…!

  5. December 16, 2006 at 2:42 am

    I’ll have to admit that the bug report form can be a bit intimidating. I always try to report bugs when I think I have one (I do post about them on the forums first for some small confirmation), but several times I’ve had bugs that only needed one or two steps to reproduce, which always makes me feel like I’m breaking protocol if I don’t post a third step.

    Then I occasionally have a bug that is too hard for me to explain the full cause/effect with the current layout of the form. It drives me crazy, and I wind up giving a half-explanation in fields that technically are there for something else… 😉

    Funny though that site compatibilities are the last thing I typically report as bugs. In fact, I typically try and ask around the forums for a solution, and if someone shows me one, I e-mail it to the site’s author/administrator. The last time the poor guy had been looking for a fix for the problem, but hadn’t been able to find one. All he had to do was change an attribute value for a certain element from uppercase to lowercase…

  6. treego
    December 16, 2006 at 3:01 am

    I’m wondering what the point of ‘Report a Site Problem’ through the Help menu is since I’ve thought it would make more sense to use that than go through the trouble/hassle of submitting a bug report that may or may not truly be a bug with Opera.

  7. treego
    December 16, 2006 at 3:04 am

    Unrelated I know … but still think the strangely dressed people gooing and aahing on the Opera banners like the one on the left of this page is a counterproductive method of putting an image on the Opera product. It makes Opera users look … well, strange and dorky, I think. How about some smartly dressed and scholarly looking people that show Opera users are informed and likely to be using the best thing available.

  8. pee#
    December 16, 2006 at 5:57 am

    Please open that bug database.

  9. December 16, 2006 at 1:35 pm

    It would be very difficult for us to open up the BTS. One of the biggest reasons is that we have many partners, most of which we can not disclose until the product is ready and the stock exchange has been informed. We can not disclose any information that comes from these partners. There may also be bug reports from unreleased sites that we are under NDA with.

    The BTS has always been run as if it is a closed system, so there are probably also comments posted that we don’t want external people to read. I have also posted quotes and e-mail addresses from web sites, so that the OTW team can keep track of correspondence with sites. This is also stuff we’d not want to be public.

    The only realistic way that would be useful with out current BTS, would be to start from a clean database, and keep private reports in the close current BTS. I believe this is the way Apple handles the WebKit Bugzilla, with the Rdar tracking system still closed to the public.

    GT500: several times I’ve had bugs that only needed one or two steps to reproduce, which always makes me feel like I’m breaking protocol if I don’t post a third step.

    Don’t worry about that. You can use as many or little steps as needed. It is nice when fewer steps are needed 🙂 As long as we have the info we need it should be fine. Screen shots often help if you have trouble explaining it. Thanks for reporting bugs and getting sites fixed…The OtW team very much appreciates it.

    David Storey
    Chief Web Opener

  10. Hmm
    December 17, 2006 at 9:44 am

    It’s not like an open bug database does people a whole lot of good. Just look at Mozilla’s bug database. Even though it’s practically wide open people never bother searching for existing reports on their problem so they end up with LOADS of duplicate reports 🙂

  11. December 18, 2006 at 1:53 am

    David: there’s no need to really open the BTS. Just a little more feedback would do a great job motivating reporters. I know the BTS supports “correspondence” with reporters — just using more of that would help. Maybe the BTS should automatically send bugmail to external reporters on some critical points: bug taken to analyze, confirmed, assigned to a developer, fixed, verified etc. If the bug is resolved as duplicate, the reporter should “switch” to tracking the other bug. Comments posted to the bug should not be sent to external reporters by default — but there should be a checkbox “Send this comment to the external reporter” below the comment textarea. Also (and it is a MUST!) the reporter should immediately get a courtesy copy of his bug report in email.

    An extra which could also be great: allow external reporters to log in (they could get the password in email) and view the bugs they reported (or those that their bugs have been duplicated to). Only original report texts, comments sent to the external reporter, and the bug status should be available through this interface.

  12. December 18, 2006 at 1:54 am

    Daniel: if the things I wrote in the last comment are too “internal” to be posted in a public place, then please just delete my comments here and contact me personally.

  13. December 18, 2006 at 9:11 am

    I know one thing: Until i know beforehand, that i will get feedback on my bug report, specifically these points:

    1. Bug report opened for the first time.
    2. Bug duplicate, not relevant, report not detailed enough, bug being worked on.
    3. Bug resolved/unresolvable, more info needed.

    , i will not bother to send in a single one. While there are some stupid-ass bugs with the browser (duplicate rss entries on certain sites), i do not think it’s worth it to try and communicate with the opera development team if they can’t even be arsed to communicate back with at LEAST a restricted automated system.

    Lastly, i won’t be touching that wizard something site either. I’m already in the browser, enable us to enter an email address there and treat those reports as seriously as any others instead of forcing us to sign up with ANOTHER site (to the thousand others each of us already has) for no damn reason at all.

    While opera in itself is a tremendous success and has made many right decisions, this matter is something where they could not possibly handle things in a more stupid and customer-ignorant way.

  14. December 18, 2006 at 9:12 am

    It will be very helpfull if BTS send something to submitter’s e-mail.
    Just bug # and all info that submitter just sent.

  15. December 18, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    Alexey Feldgendler, your first comment above was just held for moderation, nothing to “internal”. 🙂

  16. December 18, 2006 at 8:55 pm

    Alexey: I agree with most of what you say, but unfortunately, the current Bug Tracking System doesn’t support a lot of that functionality. Options such as those are certainly being looked at as possibilities for future enhancements. More communication with bug reporters is desirable. Sadly we don’t all have the time to manually write back to each bug reporter, as we’d have to with the current system, but we’d love to if we could as all feedback and bug reports are gratefully received.

    It doesn’t always help, but I assure everyone that all reports are looked into and not ignored, even if it may look that way at times.

  17. Marcus
    December 18, 2006 at 9:39 pm

    Oh, c’mon! Opera is NOT fast at fixing bugs. Maybe “site X doesn’t work in Opera” type bugs are fixed fast, but meanwhile there are more or less critical bugs that have been open for years. People have been moaning about them in the forum and I’m sure there are like a gazillion dupe reports about them in the BTS.

    (Of course I can’t remember any specific ones off the top of my head, but I know there are (or at least have been) many critical bugs in M2 where everything has frozen, or existing mails have vanished, or deleted mails have reappeared. In the www-browser there are the bugs about lost bookmarks (e.g. when the disk is full) and download “slot” leaks that force you to restart opera to be able to reload a page (otherwise it just says “waiting for…”).)

  18. moo
    December 19, 2006 at 9:22 am

    David, noone is expecting a personal reply on every little thing. Merely an automatism that dispatches emails when certain actions are done. It should be trivial to implement for anyone but the unwilling.

  19. April 5, 2007 at 10:50 am

    I hope this is not ‘getting totally buried’ in admin… There is **no need** to ‘open up’ the BTS, surely!!

    When someone makes a bug report, it is *only* that data that needs to be copied out to the user, along with the bugnumber that was sent to him..

    ALL of this info can be obtained if someone wants to sit down(for a few days, maybe!!) and look through *all* of the forum posts for the bugnumbers, and backtrack to the bug that was talked about…

    – and then ‘forward-track’ to where the user has said, ‘my bugnumber’ has been fixed!!’

    so no, there are no secrets, it is all in the forum posts, somewhere…

  20. April 5, 2007 at 10:52 am

    and BTW… I am actually using Opera 9.20, build 8767… :D:D

    yes, even here…. 😀

  21. April 5, 2007 at 11:48 am

    does the script see me now???

  22. April 5, 2007 at 11:50 am

    this masking is good..:D

  23. April 5, 2007 at 11:51 am

    is my mask off yet??

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