Bug Tracking is an integral part of end to end software development life cycle. May it be unit testing, system integration testing or user acceptance testing, tracking bugs till closure is pivotal to successful and on time software releases.
There are many paid as well as free (open source) defect tracking tools available out there in the wild, and narrowing down to one needs a bit of research. One can track bugs using a simple spreadsheet or choose to go ahead with a feature rich bug tracking software like BugZilla, Redmine, JIRA, YouTrack, FogBugz or MantisBT.
Open source bug tracking tools like Bugzilla, MantisBT and Redmine are freely available and are used by individuals as well as large scale enterprises for bugtracking. There are companies who provide premium support at a nominal fee and take care of the initial setup, configuration, onboarding, and handle any issues later on. Basic support, however is provided by the community of developers, free of cost.
On the other side of the spectrum are paid tools like JIRA, YouTrack, FogBugz, HP ALM and IBM Rational Quest that target small, medium as well as large scale enterprises.
Apart from these traditional bug trackers, there are other tools like Usersnap and airbrake.io that bring in innovative ways to capture and report issues. Usersnap for example takes snapshot of the browser and sends it to the development team. Visual communication eases out tester’s task of describing the issues.
Airbrake.io on the other hand captures exceptions from the logs as issues and links those back to the code, greatly reducing developer’s efforts to go through logs and finding out code that needs a fix.
Which one should you go for? This is a question that you need to answer based on your overall IT infrastructure, project needs, team size, and budget at hand. You might need to try a few before narrowing down to the final one.
Before we get into details of the top 10 bug tracking tools, here is a little insight into why we need such tools in the first place and what are the key features to consider for selecting a top class bug tracking software.
Why to Use Bug Tracking Tools ?
Software testing many a times is highly underrated and conducted without proper strategy, tools and team. Bugs are communicated and reported verbally, over emails or by using excel sheet. This eats up extra time and work only for very small scale projects developed by individuals or couple of developers.
When it comes to medium or large scale software development projects, you need sophisticated defect tracking tools for organized reporting and timely releases. Multiple teams’ record bugs, usability improvement requests and new feature requests during various phases of the software development cycle, and this is where bug tracking tools come to the rescue and act as a single repository.
In terms of utility, modern defect tracking tools typically overlap with project management tools or at least integrate with project management tools. Development managers use these tools for release planning, progress tracking, developer productivity, and first pass yield reporting etc.
What are the Key Features of Bug Tracking Software?
High end bug tracking tools offer features that make your bugs tracking and management process an absolute breeze. Some of the key features of such tools are as listed below -
- Intuitive user interface and efficient reporting
- Flexible Workflow to track bug from initiation till closure
- Developer tools integrations
- Prioritizing Backlog and Sprint Planning
Let us look at the best bug tracking tools that are feature rich, easy to use, and popular among the software developer and testers.
Bugzilla – Best Defect Tracking Tool (Free Tier)
Bugzilla is the baby of Mozilla foundation and was created back in 1998 by Terry Weissman to track bugs internally for Netscape suite of products. It was soon made available as open source and many organizations started to use Bugzilla as defect tracking tool for small as well as large scale development projects.
Bugzilla tops the list of open source bug tracking tools and ranks ahead of Redmine, Trac, Gitlab and MantisBT in terms of features, active development, future plans as well as community support.
The popularity and adoption of Bugzilla as defect tracking software can be gauged from the fact that large projects and organizations like Eclipse, Gnome, RedHat, Apache, W3C, North Carolina state University etc. are using Bugzilla for one or other of their projects.
Given below are some of the key features of Bugzilla –
- Duplicate Bug Detection
- Email Notifications
- Create/Modify Bugs via emails
- Time Tracking
- Reports and Charts
- Scheduled reports
- Custom Fields
- Custom Workflows
- Support for Multiple databases
- Multilingual and localization
Bugzilla roadmap also looks very promising with plans to make it more modular, enhanced UI as well as support for more databases including commercial databases.
Read More - Bugzilla Defect Management Tool.
JIRA – Best Bug Tracking Software (Commercial Tier)
JIRA is the market leader in bug tracking software and agile development tools, and is way ahead of the competition. It is the tool for masses and offers most modern set of features for effective bug tracking, issue tracking, project management and reporting. JIRA is commercial product created and marketed by the NASDAQ listed company named Atlassian and was first released back in 2002.
JIRA is modern, modular and comes packed with tons of plugins. It can be used simply as defect tracking software or a complete software project management tool for development planning, tracking, bugs tracking, reporting and release planning.
Some of the key features that keep JIRA ahead of the pack include Kanban and Scrum boards, Agile reporting, time Tracking, hassle free setup, advanced queries for search, plugins like Zephyr for test planning and execution, ready to use workflows and option for custom workflows setup, knowledge management, mobile ready, rich APIs for integration with other tools and many more.
JIRA is the issue tracker of choice for many big companies like eBay, spotify, Cisco, Tesla and Square. You can opt for Cloud version of the JIRA or get it hosted on your servers.
They have cost effective option for small teams - One time cost for small teams upto 10 users is just $10 and all this money is donated to charity (as of today). There are other plans also for bigger teams.
Read more - JIRA Features.
Redmine is another name among open source bug tracking software used in software development for capturing and tracking issues and managing other project related tasks. Redmine is giving tough competitor to Bugzilla in the free tier and is used by many organizations.
Redmine isn't just an issue tracker but offers many other powerful features like Wiki, repository, project tracking, reporting and dashboards.
Redmine was first released back in 2006 by Jean-Philippe Lang and is currently supported by a great community of experienced developers.
It is built using Ruby on rails and supported on most of the platforms including windows, Linux, OSX and Unix. It is a highly configurable software that can work with any of the top databases including PostgreSQL, SQLite and MySQL and also in the language of .your choice including English, French, German, chinese, Spanish and many more.
Key features of Redmine that gets it in the list of top notch tools like JIRA, BugZilla, Trac and Mantis are as listed below -
- Supports multiple projects
- Customizable issue tracking system
- LDAP integration - multiple
- Email based issue creation
- Git, CVS, SVN, Mercurial, Darcs and Bazaar integration
- Time Tracking and Management
- Email notifications and RSS Feeds
- Calendar and Gantt Chart
- Role based access control
BugZilla VS Redmine
In Short, Bugzilla is for Development leads and Redmine is for Project Managers. You can try Redmine hands on with their readily available online demo or by setting up your own online demo.
Free bug tracking with Redmine - Redmine Features
Trac is another sophisticated tool that lets you track lifecycle of resolving tickets, bugs, ideas, feature requests, issues. It is open source and available free to use under BSD license, you can customize it as per your development workflow.
Trac is interesting and unique in the sense that it provides wiki, bugtracking as well as software configuration management at one place.
Read more - Trac Bugtracking software
Usersnap has taken visual bug tracking to the next level with its efficient, modern and sophisticated set of tools. Usersnap is used effectively by web developers and web designers to capture end user feedback, tracking bug and change requests.
Its effectiveness lies in its point and click bug tracking capability, where users can annotate and highlight issues on the screen and simply click send, a browser screenshot with user feedback is sent to the bug queues of developers. Amazing, isnt it!
The popularity of this tool can be gauged from the fact that big companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Fast Company also use Usersnap in their overall product development workflow.
Though Usersnap offers task allocation and bug management features but not as sophisticated as tools like JIRA, Redmine, Bugzilla or YouTrack are, and for that reason, it offers easy integration with most of these bug management or project management tools.
Using Usersnap with a tool like JIRA or YouTrack gives you best of everything you would ever need to control your development projects.
Usersnap bug tracking system - https://usersnap.com/Usersnap.
Mantis is another open source Defect tracking software which is simple yet powerful and makes collaboration among clients, developers and testing team and absolute breeze. Mantis is built using PHP and can be customized and extended to meet project specific requirements by utilizing configurable workflows, UI fields and add-on plugins.
Mantis doesn’t compete with breadth of JIRA or provide Jazzy interface like Trello but it is free of cost and provides everything required for tracking bug.
Mantis can be installed on Linux, Mac OS as well as on windows and on the browser side it is compatible with almost all modern browsers including Chrome, Safari, Opera, Firefox and Internet Explorer.
An interesting add-on for Mantis is MantisTouch, developed by Victor Boctor and offered at a very minimal fee. Using this ad on, Mantis instance becomes mobile compatible and provides mobile optimized UI and easy to use interface for Android, Windows Phone as well as iOS iPhone.
Free bug tracking with Mantis - Mantis Website
Airbrake is a different animal altogether and I love the concept of Airbrake.io’s bug tracking system. The key feature of Airbrake.io is that it auto captures exceptions from the logs and puts those in task list or queues. As a developer, you get to know what went wrong, what code did not work well etc. just by auto created tasks and are able to rapidly debug the error/code.
Apart from the ability to analyze logs, find errors and logging tickets, Airbrake has many other features of typical workflow based defect tracking tools as well. Airbrake can be integrated most of the tracking tools including JIRA, gitlab, Pivotal Tracker and Trello etc. to create a complete stack of bug testing tools as well as bug reporting tools
Other similar defect management tools that are popular among the community of developers include Sentry, Rollbar, Raygun and bugsnag.
Read more - Airbrake track bugs.
YouTrack is packed with modern set of features and probably the closest competitor of JIRA in commercial space. YouTrack is developed and marketed by JetBrains, a company that is mainly into the business of building top notch developer tools for last 15 years.
JetBrains claims that YouTrack is a tool built by developers for developers, for that matter, all other tools listed in this article too are built by developers for developers.
But there are some great features that make it more favorable to developers than project managers including option for Keyboard shortcuts, you can do almost everything just with your keyboard, no need of a mouse, option to define custom workflows, Custom Fields and Time Tracking etc.
Read more - YouTrack.
FogBugz is the baby of company named Fog Creek and was first released back in 2001. FogBugz is among the top commercial bug tracking tools and is a close competitor of JIRA and GitHub Issues. Fogcreek is also famous for its other tools like Trello and Stack Overflow and Its customers include biggies like Apple, Microsoft and NASA.
FogBugz comes in four different flavors namely Tasker, Issue Desk, Agile and Dev Hub. Tasker includes features like Time Management, Time Tracking and Smart Scheduling and with Issue Desk you get additional features like Email Support, Document collaboration and Crash reporting.
Agile is the more advanced version that adds product management features on top of Issue Desk, these features include Scrum and Kanban Boards. The top end model Dev Hub gives you additional modules for Code management and Code Reviews.
FogBugz pricing is very reasonable and you can opt for on-premises or in the cloud version, with all features available in both the options.
Read more about FogBugz here at - https://www.fogcreek.com/fogbugz/
Bug-Track.com is another commerical bug tracking system that is used by large organizations including GE, US Airways, Chase, Abbott, YMCA and many more.
But-track.com is the product of company named TGMT systems Inc, which was founded back in 1998 and is based out of Quebec, Canada. Bug-Track.com lets you track and link requirements, bugs and test cases for easier management and reporting.
Some of the key features of But-Track are as listed below -
- Cut and paste option for screenshots
- Drag and drop interface for files attachment
- Extremely customizable interface - configurable layout, fields, workflows, reports and dashboards
- Email notifications configuration
- File and comments sharing
- Integration with Dropbox
Bug -track.com is web based tool and is supported in all the latest browser versions. Running in the cloud, it takes away all the pains of setup and maintenance of the tool on your own infrastructure.
Read more about Bug-Track.com here at - https://www.bug-track.com/.
Another simple yet powerful defect tracking tool is Gitlab.
Gitlab is for you if you believe in minimalism and do not need all the complex configuration and jazzy features. Gitlab has a focused approach and is meant for pure bug tracking and assignment with almost zero learning curve.
Apart from the above mentioned 10 issue management systems, there are other good bug tracking tools like DevTrack from TechExcel, Asana, Lean Testing, Zoho Bug Tracker, HP ALM and IBM rational Team concert.
Check out Gitlab community edition here at - Gitlab Issues
Gone are the days when issue tracking was done in excel or random emails, software development is highly organized and agile in today’s fast moving technology landscape.
Individuals, small scale companies as well as large enterprises track use one or more of the tools mentioned in this article for tracking bugs during development lifecycle of web apps, mobile apps and for that matter any software application.
While many of the defect tracking tools covered in this article offer overlapping features but still there are significant difference, and for that reason, selection of the tool should be done after careful analysis and mapping of tool features against the requirements.
The good thing is that even the paid tools offer free version to help you evaluate the tools before making an investment. This article is a humble attempt to help you select bug tracking tool for your organization, do let us know your experience and share recommendations with our readers, via comments. Cheers!