lessons learned while filing bugs

When I tell people that I and my entire team at Mozilla work remote, they often ask, “How do you keep track of everything people are doing?”  I tell them about Bugzilla and anything that needs fixed goes into it as a bug; bugs aren’t just for software problems, but hardware requests, account requests, office maintenance, the list goes on.  A bug is anything that prevents you from getting your work done.

Despite extolling the virtues of filing things, large and small, in Bugzilla, I (re?)learned two lessons about filing bugs this week:

  • Even if you think something is totally obvious, file a bug.  I needed to modify the Android mozconfigs this week because they weren’t turning on telemetry support, like our desktop mozconfigs.  In the process, I became disgusted with how much copy-and-paste there is between our mozconfigs and thought, “Surely, there is a bug out there already on this goop.”  I even asked one of my colleagues, Mike Hommey, whether there might be a bug on this already.  It turns out there wasn’t one, but there is now.  I shouldn’t have even asked Mike; I should have searched Bugzilla a bit and filed something if I couldn’t find a plausible match  Worst-case, somebody would mark my bug as a duplicate and I would be connected with people and/or possible attempts at fixing the bug already.
  • If something looks like a bug, file a bug.  Back in March, I made it harder to get certain kinds of Telemetry histograms wrong.  In the bug, I noted several histograms that were wrong, but didn’t bother to do anything about them.  “Too much work for too little gain,” I said.  Turns out that the networking team has been working with bad data on cache Telemetry because of one of the aforementioned histograms being wrong.  That problem could’ve been fixed several months ago!  My mistake; I should have filed each and every one of those histograms as a bug and let the relevant teams decide what to do about them.  Even if you think it’s harmless, file a bug.  Worst case is somebody tells you that it is harmless and you come away enlightened.  (And just in case you’re wondering, yes, there is a bug to make those histograms even harder to get wrong.)

And as always, please remember to follow Bugzilla’s rules of etiquette when filing bugs.

1 comment

  1. I do find bugs, but hardly ever report them.
    I wish that was different.
    I think reporting bugs could be a lot easier.
    Please make it so.

    Maybe …
    – “tell us how this could be better” in the context menu, everywhere and always. Use this context in the report.
    – forget about Bugzilla for a moment, think about people that stay miles away from coding, or even anything that looks ugly. Then look back at Bugzilla
    – do not keep annoying people with extra questions later. They might have forgotten. They might be in an important flow doing something completely different. Maybe someone can help them while filing the bug.