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Managing bug reports

  version 0.7 of debbuggtk is now in the Debian repository. This is a
set of tools (bugwatcher, bugviewer and buglister) to help manage Debian
bug reports. This is useful because:

- Bug listings can be filtered, so it should be easier to find
particular reports. This includes searching titles, bodies and limiting
by tags and severity (bug age and logical connectives should be added in
the future). This is very useful for finding duplicates in large bug
- It allows you to easily see reports when offline (for those of us with
pathetic connections)
- It shortens the headers of reports and splits them into individual
messages, removing duplicates, so is hopefully nicer than the web pages.
(advice for improvements welcome)
- Reports can be 'edited' - This brings up a form to aid generation of
an email to send to the report and/or control server. (The message is
then opened with the gnome mailto: hander)
- New or modified reports are highlighted until read. For large
listings, this enables you to easily look at which reports have changed
since the last time you checked.
- 'Virtual listings' allow you to group reports which you are interested
in, e.g. reports which you will fix, or problems which you would like to
track. (more work needs to be done to make this more user friendly)
- Bug listings can have columns for most important features of the bug
reports. These can be sorted.
- it gives me a good way to mess around with my other project,
java-gnome :)

These programs are written for GNOME in Java, using the Java-Gnome
library. This is probably the largest program written with java-gnome so
far and so has contributed many improvements to java-gnome. To put it
another way, we suffer lots of bugs and sometimes have to do a lot of
work to use parts of gnome/gtk/... The main problem at the moment is
that the program crashes with large bug reports (such as #186350); I
have no idea why.

At the moment, the programs are in contrib and depend on Blackdown java.
This is due to poor support for linking with native libraries in free
JVMs. sablevm developers are looking into this, but it may take some
time. More help would be appreciated for all free JVMs.

Being Java, people might expect performance to be poor. It does take a
while for the program to start, but after that it is like most other
applications. Some parts of the program are slow unrelated to the gui:

Bug reports are currently created by crudely parsing the html of the web
pages at bugs.debian.org. We need to write a machine readable interface
to the bts and support that in these programs. This will also
(hopefully) allow us to have more sources for the programs, such as old,
unreproducible and help tagged bug listing.

I have also started work on bugreporter, a graphical form of reportbug.
This will use the same bug listing and viewing features as the other
programs.  This is still in the planning stages and will not be ready
for at least a couple of months. 

Please file any feature requests as wishlist bugs on the debbuggtk
package, keeping to one request per bug report. If anyone has any advice
about improving the user interface, this would also be appreciated. 

  .''`. Mark Howard
 : :' :
 `. `'  http://www.tildemh.com 
   `-   mh@debian.org | mh@tildemh.com | mh344@cam.ac.uk 

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