[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software

2000/11/20

by Joel Spolsky
Monday, November 20, 2000

Painless Bug Tracking

TRS-80 Level-I BASIC could only store two string variables, A$ and B$. Similarly, I was born with only two bug-storing-slots in my brain. At any given time, I can only remember two bugs. If you ask me to remember three, one of them will fall on the floor and get swept under the bed with the dust bunnies, who will eat it.

Keeping a database of bugs is one of the hallmarks of a good software team. I never cease to be amazed at how few teams are actually doing this. One of the biggest incorrect facts that programmers consistently seem to believe is that they can remember all their bugs or keep them on post-it notes.

If I can bend your ear a moment, I'd like to explain a pretty painless way to do bug tracking, in the spirit of my previous articles on painless schedules and painless specs.

Netscape 6

Netscape 6 is just not making people happy.

I'm happy, because Netscape 6 is practically an advertisement for what happens if you don't read Joel on Software and do what I tell you :)

The number of problems in Netscape 6 that I've already addressed on these pages is mind boggling.

Netscape Goes Bonkers

The Autodesk Files

Wow, I read this in print years ago, and didn't realize it was on the web! The Autodesk Files tells the story of the creation of Autodesk. An interesting look at bootstrapping a big company before the days of lunatic VCs and dotcom mania. (Thanks to Bill Seitz for finding it!)

"Lifeboat is probably the largest independent software vendor in the world today," John Walker wrote, back in 1982. (They were really more of a distributor). Lifeboat was eaten up by what is now Programmer's Paradise, if you can believe that. And people stopped calling PCs "micros." Now when you write "micros" it looks like you were going to write microsoft but thought better.

Fun with Mailing Lists

In an attempt to gain a bit more control over the mailing lists for Joel on Software, I've installed a program called Mailman which, from now on, will handle the email notifications I send to my subscribers. (For me, this means two big improvements: I can delete email addresses that bounce, instead of getting 50 bounces in my mailbox every time I send a bulletin; it should also reduce the incidence of corrupted messages that some of you have been reporting.)

Installing Mailman, by the way, was a barrel of laughs. Like most open source software, "it's only free if your time is worthless." Sob.

If you're not already a subscriber, please sign up! (I've made it very easy.) You'll receive a short notification whenever there is a significant new article on the site -- that is, one of my long articles, not just the short ramblings on the home page which can appear almost every day.


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

Want to know more?

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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, which lets you organize anything, together, FogBugz, enlightened issue tracking software for bug tracking, and Kiln, which provides distributed version control and code reviews. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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