Bugmail

I’ve been feeling increasingly buried with bugmail as of late, and just thought I’d blog a bit about how I’m coping. I’m curious how others deal with the influx, and if there are other tips/tricks useful to share.

For those not familiar with Bugzilla, you can get bugmail for essentially all changes in specific components by “watching” the fake email address for the default QA Contact of the component. For example, going to your Bugzilla user preferences and adding “video.audio@core.bugs” to the user watching list will send you email for changes for bugs in the Core :: Video/Audio component.

Component watching is where the majority of my bugmail comes from, plus a chunk of other mail from bugs I’ve filed or CC’d myself on.

Filtering bugmail is the obvious first step; I’ve used the built-in filtering capabilities of Thunderbird for a long time. Since getting an iPhone, I’ve switched to using the server-side filters on our Zimbra mailserver, so that things get filtered even when Thunderbird isn’t running. Bugmail (anything from bugzilla-daemon@mozilla.org) defaults to a “Bugs” folder. Components I watch are sent to per-component subfolders (by using the X-Bugzilla-Component and X-Bugzilla-Watch-Reason mail headers). I also keep a special “Requests” folder (messages with “X-Bugzilla-Type: request”) that gets review requests, as well as reviews granted/denied.

This generally works fine, but I’ve noticed a few inefficiencies…

  • I don’t read review _requests_, and should just delete those automatically. Instead, I deal with requests from Bugzilla’s “My Requests” header/footer link, and just check that often. But I do use the review granted/rejected emails to help ensure I don’t forget to check in my patches, or submit fixed patches for re-review.
  • Some components I watch only loosely — I’ll skim through interesting threads and just delete the rest. I belatedly realized that this might make me miss comments that were specifically directed at me, so I’ve added a filter to tag messages that have “dolske” in the body (these show up a different color in Thunderbird).
  • Bugmails that I read and then need to followup on get starred, or sometimes just marked unread again. Which sometimes leads to me rereading and remarking-unread multiple times, or forgetting about starred messages buried in a glut of other bugs. I don’t have a better solution for this yet.
  • I disabled bugmail for dependency changes. It was just too much volume with too little value (especially for when dependencies are added, and the bugmail doesn’t even list the new bug’s title!). I assume if it’s important to me, I’m either already watching the component or someone has CC’d me to the new bug.

I’m also still using my Thunzilla extension (for making exposing useful info in Thunderbird’s folder view). I hear good things about sdwilsh’s Bugzilla Helper addon too, but haven’t got around to using it.

So, what’s your favorite bugmail tip/trick?

About Justin Dolske

Mostly harmless.
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8 Responses to Bugmail

  1. Bugzilla Helper taught me to learn to love bugmail again. Highly recommended.

    My best tip is not being afraid to declare bankruptcy. If you’re avoiding your bugmail because it’s overwhelming, just mark anything older than 30 days as read and start over. The important ones will bubble to the top again.

  2. clouserw says:

    They are a little out of date, but I make due with some gmail filters: http://github.com/clouserw/gmailfilters/blob/master/mailFilters.xml

  3. cuz84d says:

    bugzilla helper I think is just like thunzilla so you should no problem switching.

  4. I used to do use Gmail’s starring feature, but I had the same problem as you: I’d re-read the message multiple times before doing something with it. Now I do the GTD thing: I either deal with it immediately, add an item to my to-do list, or decide I’m not going to do anything with it.

  5. Axel Hecht says:

    I’m wondering, what does the “You must rebuild the indexes for each bugmail folder in order for old mail to work with Bugzilla Helper” mean? Does it assume that I arrange for my bugmail to be in all one folder?

    Sorry for abusing your post as forum.

  6. Axel: no, Thunderbird just doesn’t know to automatically rebuild the index with the new headers for existing emails. You can skip the step, you just won’t see data for those new columns in the folderview for old mail.

  7. I need a good solution for “followup” bugmail too. I’ve currently got ~400 unread bugmails, although many of them may well be for fixed bugs/completed reviews that I’ve failed to mark read. (I still keep thinking “I’m sure I only had ~150 unread recently…”)

    Is there a bug filed on that dependency bugmail issue? It’s so bad, I often fail to notice a dependency change is between two bugs on which I’m CC’d! (given that I get both bugmails…)

  8. Dave says:

    Hi, Justin

    You posted on my blog this message:

    ” I’m not really sure what the first couple of screenshots are doing, the circles and arrows just confuse me. :)

    Having menu items split between two buttons was considered early on, but was found to lead to confusion because it’s hard to remember which button the desired action is under.”

    The idea to which you relate is no more a valid idea. After I come up with newer and better idea, it has no sense reply to your critical : ]

    But I warmly invite you to comment my new , last and ultimate idea which is my best idea. I really want to know what you think about it. Thank you.

    http://davidpohl.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/my-ultimate-idea-the-fourth-idea/

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