writes: Software issue tracking transparency — good or bad?
I'm the lead developer for an Australian ERP software outfit. For the last 10 years or so we've been using Bugzilla as our issue tracking system. I made this publicly available to the degree than anyone could search and view bugs. Our software is designed to be extensible and as such we have a number of 3rd party developers making customisations and integrating with our core product.
We've been pumping out builds and publishing them as "Development Stream (Experimental / Unstable" and "Release Stream (Stable)", and this is visible on our support site to all. We had been also providing a link next to each build with the text showing the number of bugs fixed and the number of enhancements introduced, and the URL would take them to the Bugzilla list of issues for that milestone which were of type bug or enhancement.
This had been appreciated by our support and developer community, as they can readily see what issues are addressed and what new features have been introduced. Prior to us exposing our Bugzilla database publicly we produced a sanitised list of changes — which was time consuming to produce and I decided was unneccessary given we could just expose the "truth" with simple links to the Bugzilla search related to that milestone.
The sales and marketing team didn't like this. Their argument is that competitors use this against us to paint us as producers of buggy software. I argue that transparency is good, and beneficial — and whilst our competitors (Dynamics NAV, MYOB Exonet, SAP Business One, et cetera) don't publish such information — but if we were to follow our competitors practices we simply follow them in the race to the bottom in terms of software quality and opaqueness.
In my opinion, transparency of software issues provides:
- Identification of which release or build a certain issue is fixed
- Recognition that we are actively developing the software
- Incentive to improve quality controls as our "dirty laundry" is on display
- Information critical to 3rd party developers
- A projection of integrity and honesty
I've yielded to the sales and marketing demands such that we no longer display the links next to each build for fixes and enhancements, and now publish "Development Stream (Experimental / Unstable" as simply ""Development Stream", but I know what is coming next — a request to no longer make our Bugzilla database publicly accessible. I still have the Bugzilla database publicly exposed, but there is now only no longer the "click this link to see what we did in this build".
A compromise may be to make the Bugzilla database only visible to vetted resellers and developers — but I'm resistant to making a closed "exclusive" culture. I value transparency and recognise the benefits. The sales team are insistent that exposing such detail is a bad thing for sales.
I know by posting in a community like Slashdot that I'm going to get a lot of support for my views, but I'm also interested in what people think about the viewpoint that such transparency could be bad thing.