The Importance of a Quality Bug Report
A well-documented Bug report significantly increases the chances of having the issue resolved. Successfully rectifying a bug is contingent on how precisely it’s reported. Bug reporting is a skill, and in this tutorial, we will show you how to develop it.
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“The objective of drafting a problem report (bug report) is to rectify issues” – Cem Kaner
If a tester does not report a bug correctly, the developer will most likely dismiss it as non-reproducible.
Such an incident can demoralise the tester and, sometimes, bruise their ego. Egotistical statements such as “I earned the credit for reporting the bug”, “I can recreate that”, “Why did they dismiss the bug?”, “It’s not my mistake” etc., can be harmful.
The key takeaways from this tutorial:
- Characteristics of an Excellent Software Bug Report
- Efficient Bug Reporting
- How do you Report a Bug?
- Crucial Elements of Your Bug Report
- Additional Tips for drafting A Quality Bug Report
- Final thoughts
Characteristics of an Excellent Software Bug Report
Anyone can write a bug report, but not everyone can produce an effective report. You should be able to discern between an average and an excellent bug report.
How do you distinguish between low-quality and high-quality Bug Reports? It’s quite simple. Implement the following traits and techniques when reporting a bug.
Traits and Techniques
#1) Assign a definitive Bug Number:
Each bug report should be assigned a unique number to aid in its identification. If you’re using an automated bug reporting tool, this unique number will be generated each time you log a bug.
Remember the number and a brief description of every bug you reported.
#2) Reproducibility: If the bug cannot be reproduced, it’s unlikely it will be fixed.
Clearly outline the steps required to reproduce the bug. Don’t skip or assume steps. Bugs that are explicitly described and easy to reproduce are also easier to rectify.
#3) Precision: Steer clear of lengthy, verbose descriptions about the issue.
Be Clear and concise in your explanations. Aim to encapsulate the problem in as few but as impactful words as possible. Don’t confound multiple bugs, even if they appear related. Each issue should have its report.
Efficient Bug Reporting
Bug reporting is a vital facet of software testing. An effective Bug report aids clear and meaningful communication with the development team, minimising uncertainty or miscommunication.
A high-quality Bug report should be clear and succinct, with all essential details included. Any vagueness may result in misunderstanding and hamper the development process. Defect reporting is among the most crucial yet overlooked areas within the testing cycle.
Articulate, crisp writing is crucial for submitting a bug. It is important for a tester to remember to avoid using a commanding tone in their report. This can create an unhealthy work environment. The tone should be suggestive rather than assertive.
Don’t assume that the developer made a mistake and therefore deserves harsh words. Before reporting, it is equally important to ascertain whether the same bug has already been reported.
Duplicate bugs are a hindrance in the testing cycle. Review the list of known bugs. At times, developers may already be aware of the issue but have deferred it for future releases. Tools like Bugzilla, which automatically searches for duplicate bugs, could be used. Nevertheless, manually searching for any duplicate bug is always the best approach.
The essential information that a bug report should convey is “How?” and “Where?” The report should clearly specify how the test was executed and where the defect was found. The reader should be able to easily reproduce the bug and identify where it is.
Remember that the aim of a Bug report is to assist the developer in visualising the problem. They should be able to comprehend the defect from the bug report itself. Be sure to provide all relevant information that the developer needs.
Also, bear in mind that a bug report may be preserved for future reference and should be well written with all necessary details. Use simple words and meaningful sentences to describe your bugs. Stay away from complex statements that waste the reviewer’s time.
Make sure to report each bug as a separate issue. In case of multiple issues in a single bug report, you cannot close it until all issues have been addressed.
Therefore, it is better to divide the issues into separate bugs. This ensures that each bug can be addressed individually. A concise bug report can aid developers in recreating the bug on their end. This can also assist them in diagnosing the problem.
How do you Report a Bug?
Use the following simple Bug report template:
This basic Bug report format may vary depending on the Bug report tool you’re using. If you’re manually creating a bug report, then certain fields, such as the Bug number, need to be manually assigned.
Reporter: Your name and e-mail address.
This refers to the product which has the bug.
Version: The version of the product, if any.
This refers to the major sub-modules of the product.
Specify the hardware platform where the bug was found e.g., ‘PC’, ‘MAC’, ‘HP’, ‘Sun’ etc.
Indicate all operating systems on which you found the bug. For instance, Windows, Linux, Unix, SunOS, and Mac OS. Also, if applicable, mention their different versions like Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP etc.
When should a bug be addressed? Priority is generally set from P1 to P5. Where P1 means “fix the bug as a top priority” and P5 means “fix when time permits”.
This represents the bug’s impact.
Types of Severity:
- Blocker: Testing work cannot proceed.
- Critical: Can lead to application crashing, or loss of data.
- Major: Significant loss of functionality.
- Minor: Minor loss of functionality.
- Trivial: Requires some UI improvements.
- Enhancement: Request for a new feature or some improvement to an existing feature.
Status: When you’re logging a bug into a bug tracking system, the default bug status will typically be ‘New’.
The bug then progresses through several stages, for instance, Fixed, Verified, Reopen, Won’t Fix etc.
=> Click here for a detailed insight on the Bug Life Cycle.
Assign To: If you know which developer is responsible for that specific module where the bug was found, you can specify the email address of that developer. If not, leave it blank. Doing so, the bug will be assigned to the module owner, alternatively the manager will assign the bug to the developer. You could also add the manager’s email address to the CC list.
URL: The URL of the page where the bug was found.
Summary: A brief summary of the problem, within about 60 words or less. Make sure your summary accurately represents the problem and where it can be found.
Description: A thorough explanation of the bug.
The following fields should be used in the description section:
- Steps to Reproduce: Clearly state the steps needed to reproduce the bug.
- Expected Result: Describe what the software should do following the steps you’ve outlined.
- Actual Result: Describe what the software actually does when the aforementioned procedures are followed – i.e., the bug’s behaviour.
These are the important steps in the bug report. You can also add “Report Type” as another field, which will further describe the bug type.
Report Types include:
1) Coding error
2) Design flaw
3) New Suggestion
4) Documentation issue
5) Hardware issue
Crucial Elements of Your Bug Report
The following are the crucial features in the Bug report:
#1) Bug Identification Number
Assigning a bug number or ID, such as swb001, simplifies the bug reporting process and subsequent references. Developers can easily check whether a specific bug has been fixed or not. In turn, this makes the testing and retesting process more streamlined and efficient.
#2) Bug Title
The bug title is one of the most frequently read parts of the bug report. It should comprehensively explain what the bug entails. It should be sufficiently insightful, so the reader can comprehend it instantly. A clear bug title makes it easier to understand and the reader can check if the bug has been previously reported or fixed.
Based on the bug’s severity, a priority level can be assigned to it. A bug could be a Blocker, Critical, Major, Minor, Trivial, or just a suggestion. Priorities can range from P1 to P5 so that the most serious ones are addressed first.
The OS and browser configuration is essential for a clear bug report. It is the simplest way to convey how the bug can be replicated.
Without accurate platform or environment details, the software may behave differently, and the bug noticed by the tester may not be replicated by the developer. Therefore, it’s crucial to clearly state the setting in which the bug was found.
The bug description assists the developer in comprehending the bug. It describes the problem encountered. An unclear description will create confusion and waste the developers and testers’ time.
It is important to clearly communicate about the consequences of the description. It’s always beneficial to use complete sentences. It is a good practice to describe each problem independently as opposed to bundling them together. Don’t use phrases like “I think” or “I believe”.
#6) Steps to Reproduce
An effective Bug report should clearly outline the replication steps. These steps should include the actions that would lead to the bug. Avoid making vague statements. Be specific about the steps to follow.
A good example of a well-documented procedure is given below
- Select product Abc01.
- Click on Add to cart.
- Click Remove to remove the product from the cart.
#7) Expected and Actual Results
A Bug description is incomplete without the expected and actual outcomes. It’s important to specify the outcome of the test and what the user should expect. The reader should know what the correct outcome of the test is. Clearly state what happened during the test and what the result was.
A picture can convey more than a thousand words. Take a screenshot of the failure event and caption it appropriately to highlight the defect. Highlight unexpected error messages in a light pink colour. This draws attention to the required area.
Additional Tips to Draft a Quality Bug Report
The following are some extra tips on how to draft a quality Bug report:
#1) Report the problem immediately
If you detect any bugs during testing, do not wait to draft a detailed bug report later. Instead, draft a bug report immediately. This will ensure a robust and reproducible Bug report. If you decide to draft the Bug report at a later stage, there’s a higher chance of missing out on important steps in your report.
#2) Test the bug thrice before submitting a Bug report
Make sure your bug can be reproduced. Ensure that your steps are robust enough to reproduce the bug without any ambiguity. If the bug is not consistently reproducible, you can still log a bug highlighting its intermittent nature.
#3) Check for the same bug in other similar modules
It’s possible that the developer used the same code for different similar modules. This increases the likelihood of the bug appearing in other similar modules as well. You could even try to find a more severe version of the bug you found.
#4) Craft a compelling bug summary
A bug summary enables developers to quickly analyse the bug’s nature. A poorly structured report will unnecessarily prolong the development and testing time. Communicate effectively with your bug report summary. Remember that the bug summary can be used as a reference to search for the bug in the bug inventory.
#5) Review the Bug report before submitting it
Revisit every sentence, wording, and step that you’ve used in the bug report. Check if any sentence could create ambiguity leading to potential misinterpretation. Words or phrases that could mislead should be avoided to ensure a clear bug report.
#6) Stay professional and respectful.
While it’s great that you found a bug, don’t use this to ridicule the developer or attack anyone.
There is no denying the fact that your bug report should be a high-quality document.
Emphasise on drafting useful bug reports and allocate some time to that task because it serves as the principal communication point among the tester, developer, and the manager. Managers should inculcate in their teams that drafting a quality Bug report is the primary responsibility of each tester.
Your efforts towards drafting a thorough Bug report will not only save the company resources but also create a healthy rapport between you and the developers.
For better productivity, draft a better bug report.