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How to submit good bug reports

Posted in Programming

It happens to everyone - bugs. The best thing is to get them solved quickly, and the key to that is good quality bug reports. It's quite often that a bug report will come across my desk that's as tearse as "it doesn't work". This doesn't help much - it provides no useful information whatsoever.

Often the most useful piece of information is the URL which the bug happened on. If your site has already been launched but we're working on a stage two, it's vital to know if it's a bug in the current site or if it's on the test server.

Browser with URL bar highlighted

Screenshots can be useful here, but don't over-crop your image. Keep the whole browser window in the crop so we can get as much information as possible. This will allow us to know the browser which is in use, and any toolbars or addons which might be interfering with the site. Not sure how to take a screenshot? There is a handy website called Take a screenshot which will help you out.

Was there any error messages? The full text of the error page is best. If you get an exception message (these are orange in SproutCMS) provide us the full message, including the section called a "stack trace". This is probably the most valuable information we can get as it pinpoints the exact location the error occured and will speed up debugging greatly.

The platform detection toolWhat browser and operating system are you on? What browser version? Are you behind a corporate network? Some of this information is a bit hard to figure out, but we have a tool which can help out. It's called our Platform detection tool and it tells you all the information we can detect. Take a screenshot of this, or copy-and-paste it into your bug report email.

And finally, what were you actually doing when the bug occured? What are the steps? If you did those same steps again, does the bug occur again? Or is it random? What hapened? What were you expecting instead?

I know this sounds like a lot of information but we're going to need most of this anyway to diagnose the issue so the more of it that is provided up-front the faster your bug will be triaged, diagnosed and fixed.

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