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Bug Tracking Solutions For Enterprise Projects

Ensuring the quality of large software development projects can be tedious: many variables and many developers are constantly in motion. This is why enterprise project managers rely on bug tracking software to flag issues, resolve errors, and verify solutions. We will compare a list of popular project management software for bug tracking, including:

  • Redmine
  • Jira
  • Trac
  • BugZilla
  • FogBugz

 

Each of these issue tracking software packages are hosted on a server (either in-house or in the cloud), and can be accessed online over a local network or via the internet. They all offer some means of identifying development priorities – whether that is fixing bugs or adding new features – assigning developer(s) to tasks, and tracking the progress of this process. The way each project management software package tracks the workflow is unique, and ranges from the very minimal, wiki-like management of Trac to the very professional, clean, and agile-minded design of FogBugz. All five of these bug trackers are also extensible in their own way: via plugins, integrations, or add-ons (terminology varies).  

 

Here is a quick comparison of the 5 bug tracking solutions listed above:

 

Feature Redmine Jira Trac BugZilla FogBugz
Cost Free $$ Free Free $$
Hosted? No Optional No No Yes
Agile-Minded? Agile plugins available Yes No No Yes! (core feature)
Released 2006 2002 2006 1998 2000
Plugins/ Integrations/ Add-ons? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

 

 

Jira

Price: Free 30-day Trial, then $10 per month and up (with hosting)

 

Offering amazing flexibility and an official Atlassian marketplace for add-ons, Jira (pronounced like “jeera”*) is a highly developed issue tracking and project management software package. Jira’s flexibility shines in its ability to tailor workflows precisely for how you and your team already operate. Jira offers a number of pre-defined workflows to get you started, but recognizes that “every team has a unique process for shipping software.”

* ”Jeera,” pronounced the same as Jira, happens to be the name of an Indian dish made of rice and cumin seeds, but has no relation to Jira software.

 

According to Jira’s website, approximately half of their users practice agile software development, and they are proud to showcase the GreenHopper and Bonfire plugins that help many Jira users effectively plan sprints, track daily work, and stay on target in their development cycles.

 

Pricing for Jira varies based on the number of users (with options from 10 to 2,000), and based on the desired hosting solution. Jira can be set up on your own hardware or hosted for you in Atlassian’s cloud. With Jira, on-site installation can be somewhat complicated, so while it’s certainly nothing that a development team can’t handle, for simplicity’s sake – and depending on your budget – it may be worthwhile considering a hosted solution.

 

Jira is a respected choice for bug tracking, project management, and agile development. It is currently used by many big names including LinkedIn, eBay, Square, and Cisco. Check out Jira for:

  • stability and enterprise-level support;
  • product training through Atlassian University and Atlassian Summits;
  • an official Atlassian database of Jira add-ons;
  • competent add-ons supporting agile development;
  • and flexibility to make Jira fit your team’s unique needs and workflow.

 

Trac

Price: Free under modified BSD license

 

The most minimalist of the bunch, Trac describes itself as “an enhanced wiki and issue tracking system for software development projects.” Trac is based on the premise that tracking software shouldn’t “impose” on developers, but rather should provide some light assistance and complement established workflows.

 

Trac is actively developed, and offers a number of plugins that include a web administration panel, spam filter, code documentation generators, file managers, time trackers, and integration with various version control systems. Plugins for many version control systems are currently available:

  • Subversion (SVN)
  • Git
  • Perforce
  • Mercurial
  • Darcs
  • Bazaar
  • and monotone.

 

The official Trac website is reminiscent of early 2000’s web design, and is hosted on edgewall.org, “a community of software developers who collaborate on creating exciting open source software based on the Python programming language.”

 

While certainly not the most flashy, most full-featured, or most widely used, Trac is a solid choice for bug/ issue tracking, and may be ideal if you want:

  • a free issue tracking system;
  • minimal server requirements and backend maintenance;
  • a lightweight system;
  • a Python-based, extensible framework;
  • and a wiki-like feel.

 

Redmine

Price: Free (Open Source)

 

Redmine is an open source web-based project management software package. Besides bug and feature tracking, Redmine also offers a wide variety of tools right out of the box (or rather right out of the free tar or zip file), including wikis and forums, calendars, Gantt charts, and even bug report generation. This feature set is especially impressive when we consider that Redmine is a “clone,” i.e. inspired and based off of, the much more basic Trac project reviewed previously.

 

Whereas Trac is written in Python, Redmine is written in Ruby on Rails. This is worth keeping in mind if your team is looking to develop in-house extensions or modifications to the base installation of either Trac or Redmine, as you will want to consider which language is the best fit for your team’s current expertise.

 

Having Gantt chart views and calendar views without need for extensions is a big plus for the free, open source Redmine package. As we mention below (see “Agile Software Development and Project Tracking Software”), the availability of a well-supported commercial agile development plugin means that Redmine may well be the best open source choice for teams who embrace agile methods, particularly Scrum.

 

Consider Redmine for your next development project, and get:

  • a stellar feature set, for free!;
  • great extensibility with a little Ruby on Rails experience;
  • Gantt and calendar views;
  • and Android and iOS mobile apps.

 

BugZilla

Price: Free (Open Source)

 

First launched in 1998, BugZilla is the veteran bug squasher of the bunch. It is the favored bug tracker of many popular open source projects, including Mozilla, the Linux Kernel, GNOME, KDE, the Apache Project, LibreOffice, Openoffice, and Eclipse.

 

BugZilla was originally developed as an in-house solution for the Mozilla development team (Mozilla was also launched in 1998), and took off as an independent project in the early 2000’s (though several top BugZilla developers still work for Mozilla). Written in Perl, BugZilla can run on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems, though unsurprisingly Linux is the “1st-class citizen operating system” as per BugZilla’s website.

 

There is much to love about BugZilla, including:

  • its long history and high profile in the open source community;
  • an active development team that maintains ties to the Mozilla corporation;
  • unofficial paid support available through various IT professionals;
  • low system requirements/ hardware costs;
  • and the ability to run on virtually any operating system.

 

FogBugz

Price: Free Trial, Free edition for 2 users, $18 per month and up for 3+ users

 

Modern, full-featured, agile, and used by many big names including Bandcamp, Swiftype, and Khan Academy, FogBugz offers some style for a small monthly payment. FogBugz is more than a mere bug tracking system, offering:

  • issue and bug tracking;
  • agile project planning;
  • project management;
  • support help desk;
  • integrations;
  • and modules such as time tracking and integrated wikis.

 

FogBugz stands above the competition in terms of ease of use – it even sports iOS, Android, and Blackberry apps for managing cases on the go – and in terms of its US-based customer support (especially in comparison to open source DIY peers). With free webinars and training (though no upcoming sessions are currently scheduled), the NYC-based team at Fog Creek wants to make sure that you and your team can make the most of your bug tracking software right from the start.

 

Fog Creek, the company behind FogBugz ,is notable as the birthplace of StackOverflow and Trello, and has a unique employee-owned, employee-driven business model.

 

While FogBugz is a paid issue tracking and project management solution, it offers many advantages over its free, open-source peers including:

  • a dedicated, commercial development team;
  • high-quality, US-based support;
  • many features beyond basic bug tracking;
  • simple integration with Fog Creek’s own Kiln version control management software;
  • visually pleasing interfaces;
  • and support for agile methods as a core product feature.

 

Agile Software Development and Project Tracking Software

 Each of the bug management systems we have reviewed can be used with agile development methods. FogBugz and Jira – the two paid software packages in our review – stand out for their support of agile development as a core feature (FogBugz) and their excellent agile add-ons (Jira). Open source options like Redmine, Trac, and BugZilla can certainly be helpful for teams practicing agile development, but may require more configuration on your end.

 

Several Scrum extensions exist for Redmine, including the Scrum2B Tool, Scrum, and the RedmineCRM Agile plugin. The RedmineCRM Agile plugin is by far the most polished, but that polish also comes with a price tag: a PRO Single-site license is $299, and a multi-site license will run you $699. While it may seem silly to pay hundreds of dollars for a plugin for otherwise open source and free software, paying for RedmineCRM Agile may well be worth it if your workflow relies on the Scrum methodology.

 

With BugZilla and Trac, no commercially supported agile development tools exist, but with the dexterity that they offer there’s plenty of potential to get creative and tweak any of these tools to match your needs.

 

Conclusions

 Bug tracking software is a must no matter how small or large your software development team or project is. With options ranging from free and open source to paid and cloud-hosted, there’s bound to be a software solution that fits your project’s budget and your development team’s workflow.

 

What is your favorite bug tracking software? Have you had any notable experiences using Redmine, Jira, TRAC, Bugzilla, or FogBugz? We’d be happy to hear your feedback! As always, you can reach out to the WebiNerds team by email or on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We look forward to hearing from you!