Thursday, October 18, 2012

Scott Hanselman nails it

In a nice three-part series, Scott Hanselman talks about software, and bugs, and what to do:

  • In Everything's broken and nobody's upset, he calls out the Emperor for having no clothes, and speaks the ugly truth:
    Software doesn't work. I'm shocked at how often we put up with it.


    Here we are in 2012 in a world of open standards on an open network, with angle brackets and curly braces flying at gigabit speeds and it's all a mess. Everyone sucks, equally and completely.

    As Hanselman observes, one of the issues is that many people use Google as their principal problem solving tool:

    Here's the worst part, I didn't spend any time on the phone with anyone about these issues. I didn't file bugs, send support tickets or email teams. Instead, I just Googled around
  • In A Bug Report is a Gift, Hanselman talks about the question of whether it's easy or hard for users to file a bug against your software:
    Is it easy for your users to report a bug? Does you app automatically report crashes? Is your site friendly? Are you support people friendly and engaged? Are your bug support forums filled with reports but no company representatives? Do you use GetSatisfaction or UserVoice?
  • And in Help your users record and report bugs with the Problem Steps Recorder, Hanselman talks about some specific technical solutions that you can put in place to help your users send you bug reports:
    On the subject of bug reporting, there's a wonderful gem of a program that ships with Windows 7 and Windows 8 that you and your users can use to report and record bugs. It's the Problem Steps Recorder and it's like TiVo for bugs.

I love the practical advice and extensive examples that Hanselman includes in these posts, but what I really love most of all is the perspective he brings to the entire topic:

How hard does the user have to work to file a bug? It's OUR bug but the user not only hit the bug but also has to work to report it!

Every click or manual step that our users have to invest in our bug is a click too many. A bug is the pain that hurts the user and keeps hurting as they report it! A good bug report is a gift that keeps on giving and we should treat it as such.

I'd love a world where all crashes are automatically reported and there's a "Send a Frown/Smile" button on everyone's computer that offers to record a short screencast with just a single "record/stop" button.

You can't fix the bug until you find it, so the first step toward improving software is to make it as easy as possible to find, isolate, record, report, and track those bugs.

Thanks, Scott, for the helpful and well-intended suggestions; now let's get them adopted!

1 comment:

  1. At <redacted> there is one particular in-house bit of software I have to use which has a very poor reputation. But it does have the best tool for reporting its own bugs. It has an internal history of the last few commands you ran and it asks you which one failed. Then it packages up a load of log files and logs the bug for you.