Best Bug Tracking Software: Free and Paid. How to choose the best bug tracking tool
What is BTS (Bug Tracking Software):
Nowadays, software development processes are hardly imaginable without the right task management systems and tools that allow us to collect and sort information about the product, tasks, and team efficiency. When you are starting a new project, many questions arise, such as:
How to track the current status of the project?
How to create and store plans for future updates?
How to split tasks between team members?
How to evaluate the progress of a team or a specific team member?
For these purposes, you can use one of many Bug Tracking Tools. But what exactly is meant by the term Bug Tracking Software (Tool)? When inexperienced people hear the Bug Tracking Software, they first think about a tool that stores a list of software bugs on boards where those bugs are represented as cards divided by statuses. Yes, it’s true. The Bug Tracking Software is designed to store and track current states of improvements or defects related to some products. But that’s only 20% of the whole functionality available in most of the BTS. Complex chargeable BTS proposes much more functionality than just creating cards and displaying them on boards. The right BTS allows you to solve many project tasks. In a few seconds, you can receive the latest information about development status, the latest changes in specific tasks, and the activity of your team members. Also, most of the BTS support all sorts of customization and integrations with other useful tools used in software development.
Still not convincing enough? Do you still thinking why you should pay hundreds of dollars for some sort of storage and not just simply use any board in the office with paper notes?
Benefits of using BTS:
In the modern world, most development teams cooperate with specialists from different countries. It would be tough to maintain such communications by using real project boards and paper cards. Better to use proper Bug Tracking System for coordination purposes, to easily manage, track, and evaluate the work of team members from all over the world. Bug tracking software gives you a lot more benefits than simple management or communication tools.
Cooperation with team members from other parts of the world can be complicated, especially if you have different time zones. Sending lists of tasks by email, waiting for an appropriate time to receive the latest update about task status, could take much extra time. In BTS, you can simply assign a list of tasks to all of your team members so they could know the schedule for upcoming weeks or so. Moreover, all tools have a comments section on tickets. It is a beneficial tool if you want to receive the latest update about the current progress of the task or if something goes wrong with any task, for example, if requirements are unclear for developers or QA department.
It’s essential to know the scope of the tasks finished by a specific team member. Most of the bug tracking tools have activity sections for each team member where you can see all of the tasks completed by the colleague over a while. Also, some BTS support direct hour tracking for each task, and developers can add hours spent for each finished task. It could be handy if you want to know the amount of work that can be finished by a specific developer for one day.
When the development process goes at full speed, and all team members have tasks for a few weeks in advance, it is essential to continue building plans for the future. But rather than store those plans in text files or elsewhere, it’s better to use BTS storage called Backlog. It's an unlimited cloud folder where you can sort your tasks by different parameters. If you have several projects, it’s easy to split future tasks by specific projects or by various categories. Also, some BTS have built-in roadmap tools where you can drag and drop cards from Backlog on the roadmap board to show team members when they should start and finish work over specific tasks.
Support of agile development methodologies
If you are planning to use agile methodology in your project development, then BTS is the best tool for you. Most of the BTS have all the necessary tools for full agile methodology implementation. Scrum boards, kanban boards, sprint backlogs, story points assignments, and a lot more. All the required attributes of agile methodologies are available by default; all you need to do is just customize those for the needs of your project.
Reports, statistics etc.
Every good BTS has a system of reports and different statistic collection mechanisms. From time to time, while sprint is in progress, you need to check the progress of teamwork and the status of tasks completion. Some bug tracking tools have built-in tools for those needs, and some are proposing plugins with Burndown Charts and all sorts of different graphs that can help you to understand if your team is doing great or if you need to take some actions. Also, some BTS have reports systems where you can gather information about types of issues, lists of uncompleted tasks in the project, or any other information available in BTS.
It doesn’t matter which software you are using for code merges and deployments to production. Each well known bug tracking software supports all of the major server systems and code storage software. Integrations with such popular software as GitHub, Jenkins, Azure, Amazon Web Services are not a problem for most BTS. Each commit and code change can be represented directly in the tickets of the Bugs Tracking System. But that’s not all integrations available in BTS. You can easily integrate ticket updates and status changes into any famous communication tool like Slack. One more important thing is integration with Test Case management systems. You can connect all your test suits from Test Rail to any ticket in your bug tracking tool for testing purposes or integrate the Zephyr test case system directly into BTS.
Each company has its own style and wants to customize everything for their own needs. Each BTS allows you to customize any single parameter. First of all, you can create a set of different issue types in your BTS. It’s essential to have such types as improvements, epics, and others. But you can set different names for issue types, which can be very handy. Also, you can customize any field in your tickets by adding parameters from the default list or just by creating new fields. Also, you can adjust workflows in your BTS, such as default assignments after status change, or update of different ticket attributes. There are many other customizable parameters such as notification systems, lists of statuses or labels, board customizations, and many others.
Most popular bug tracking software:
Now, after a short review of BTS benefits, only one question remains: “Which BTS suits best for my project?” Well, there is no best option for everyone. When you are starting to choose BTS for your project, you should know the main requirements and parameters of your project, a number of people in your team, list of software that should be supported by BTS. Let's review the most popular BTS:
Thousands of teams have chosen JIRA to organize the process, distribute work, and track team activities. JIRA's simple, intuitive interface allows you to collaborate with teammates and do the work more efficiently. The components of tasks can be expanded with additional fields or limited by settings; the workflow determines this. All changes to the task are logged. JIRA has a powerful Confluence extension for documentation purposes. Confluence allows you to store any additional information related to your project.
Jira is a paid system with a 7-day free trial. This is not only a bug tracker but also a very convenient tool for project management, especially for agile teams. The functionality of this program is very wide, and if something is missing, it can always be supplemented with the help of plugins.
Key features of JIRA
Multiple Project control.
Agile, Scrum, Kanban.
Technical Support Service.
Accessibility from mobile devices.
The ability to customize the workflow.
Drawing up reports.
Authentication through LDAP and Active Directory.
Bug Tracking System.
Integration with Git.
1000+ various additions, extensions, plugins.
A monthly flat rate of 10 usd for up to 10 users.
Standard plan: 7 usd per user / Teams of 11+
Premium plan: 14 usd per user / Teams of 11+
This system was originally designed to manage projects of small groups, and it suits best for small teams that only start a project and don't want to spend much money on large BTS. It uses a flexible Kanban project management methodology.
This system is a Web application and is more often used not only as a bug tracker but also as a project management system. Projects distributed on boards that look very clear. On boards, tasks can be sorted into columns according to the principle of boards in kanban: new tasks, tasks in the queue, tasks in work, completed tasks, and so on.
Tasks marked in different colors. Attributes, as such, are not provided for in this system. But you can use color markers to assign severity or priority. Certain users can be added to the different boards, where they can be assigned to tasks, where they write comments as they progress. Also, in the system, there is the ability to create checklists.
Key features of Trello:
Possibility to work on multiple boards;
Technical Support Service.
Creating tasks by email
Integration with various services.
Free: for an unlimited count of users but restricted features
Business-class: 12.50 usd per user
Enterprise: 20.83 usd per user
Compared to other bug tracking systems, this is a fairly simple tool. This bug tracker is compatible with several databases, such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, MS SQL, and allows you to integrate applications such as chat, time tracking, wikis, RSS feeds, and much more.
To install Mantis, you need your own web server or hosting purchase. You can use a simple computer as a web server (Mantis is not demanding on PC resources), but if you do not have time to configure the server, the issue can be solved by purchasing an account from a hosting company. You can also use the free 30-day trial hosting account from the Mantis developer.
ability to customize fields;
time tracking support;
accessible history of changes in reports;
an unlimited number of users, projects, and bug reports.
Mantis is a free bug tracking tool
Modern development processes are almost impossible to imagine without Bug Tracking Software. Either you a small team or an enterprise-level company, you need some system to track issues of your product, build plans for your future, and support communication directly in the tickets. Almost each BTS grants you a free period for testing during which you can decide if this Bug Tracking System fulfills all the needs of your team and project or if you should start looking for another software.