How to Properly Report a Bug


Bugs can have many sources. The most common one comes from the programmer, but like all of us, he is only human. It can also come from web browsers, the programming language used, the software that is being used, from a web server configuration, by 3rd party systems, or even the server to name a few. All of which are not controlled by the programmer. We are going to cover here the importance of properly reporting a bug. Proper reporting and information can save a programmer hours of work leading to a faster resolution when it comes to debugging.

Here are the most common sources of bugs:

  • Programming issue. An error introduced by the programmer. This would also include missing functionality.
  • Server issue. Usually due to a bad server configuration or wrong server files for a site.
  • Browser issue (I’m looking at you IE). A problem due to the user’s browser, which can be caused by the browser itself or by plugins installed on the browser.
  • The language or framework used. There might be a bug in a specific function, which would be resolved in a future version.
  • 3rd party systems. These can be due to change or bugs in code written by other programmers, or systems. For example, a change done by a shipping rates calculator from USPS.

It is important to identify the cause of a bug, which could be a mix of the above. For 80% of them, the biggest part of resolving an issue is finding the issue. Therefore, it is important for people to report a bug with as much information as possible. A message like “This isn’t working!” is not enough information. Ideally, the more who what where when why and how information you provide will help a programmer find the bug quicker.

Here are some items to think about:

  1. Is it a bug or missing functionality ?
  2. On what browser did this happen and can it be reproduced on another browser?
  3. Were you able to reproduce this bug on another computer at the same location?
  4. On what page of the site did this bug appear, provide the exact url you are on when the bug occurred.
  5. What were the exact steps you took to make the bug appear  did you go though many pages prior to the bug, click on a specific button, enter a specific line of text the more information you can provide here the better?
  6. What happens when the bug occurs, did you get a error message, did the screen go blank, sent to the wrong page?
  7. If logged into the website, with which user were you logged in?
  8. Is the bug occurring everytime  you perform a specific task, or is it only happening on occasion?

With detailed information like the information above, a programmer will be able to try to reproduce and pinpoint the issue and resolve it faster and with better accuracy. Giving all this information at the start will also help prevent the back and forth between multiple individuals to gather enough information to get to the bottom of the little devils.

Posted in Programming

Tagged Programming

Enjoy what you’re reading? Sign up for the AYC Media newsletter and receive updates on our posts.