Where is it?  One of our clients for work has been on the hunt for an issue tracker to keep track of issues for our web development project and for their internal systems.  We looked through a few options and eventually settled on FogBugz.  I do not like FogBugz because it's another one of those programs subscribing to that crazy Creating Passionate Users philosophy that says it's great to have people that hate your product.  Particularly because I am one of them.  The idea is that they've created the software to have a specific process flow.  You either subscribe to their process wholly, or you fit your round process into their square hole.  We're in the process of rounding the corners off of our peg just so that the licenses we've paid for aren't a waste.  Am I wrong to think that there should be a solution that allows you to apply your standard operating procedure without having to codify it specifically in the software?  What I mean is, if we had a process, we should be able to get the software to conform to it.  We shouldn't have to make the software perform every step of the process and enforce it for us.  Personally, I would have been happy with a place to list issues and have their histories.  Perhaps a way to "tag" and classify them and mark them as open, fixed, or resolved would be enough for me.  Maybe I'd want more, but I wouldn't have to fight with some crazy assignment process like within FogBugz, I could just implement a new operating procedure and the software wouldn't need to change.  So I've been looking for an open source solution.  We're going to need to recommend some kind of issue management system to other clients, and we may want to switch out this client eventually for something that works better (although by the time we get there, we'll have "figured out" FogBugz and our project will be complete).  What really bothers me about the issue tracking arena is that there are really no good open-source contenders that I can find.  The best of the pack, I think, is Bug Genie.  Bug Genie has a nice and friendly interface, and has a ton of features.  Maybe an overkill of features.  The process is nice, but in this Web 2.0 era, not having Ajax processing (and FogBugz fails here, too) leaves you wanting.  Bug Genie also seems more focused on desktop application development, with specific pages to detail your system capabilities.  I would really prefer something more web project-oriented.  The disturbing part is that there seem to be a bunch of packages out there to do the job, but they're all commercial, hosted products.  Take 16bugs for example.  I didn't sign up for their trial, because I'm not interested at all in a paid/hosted solution, but the software looks like the simple kind of thing that we'd want.  It tracks issues.  I keeps a history.  It lets you mark things as completed.  What other features are really neccesary?  But it's commercial and hosted, so it's automatically off the list.  Oh, well.  Basecamp seems like a good fit, if looking for a commercial product.  Looking for project management software is something that I had been doing a lot of in the past.  Actually, on that front, Basecamp can be almost entirely replaced by ActiveCollab.  ActiveCollab isn't exactly complete, but it provides simple task lists and project management that might get you through.  As it develops, I'm sure it'll provide more of the features of Basecamp.  Still, these project management packages aren't issue trackers.  They don't function well as issue trackers.  So they don't work, either.  Mantis may be effective, but I've got to have non-coders using this thing.  The interface has to be dirt simple.  What would be truly awesome is a cradle-to-grave project management system.  It would let you specify requirements (I would love a subset of the function of Borland Caliber in a web product.), track project development milestones and revisions (integrating into subversion), track issues from clients and QA, automate deployment, and manage maintenance requests.  The system should integrate fully with email (allowing/forcing all email traffic for a project to funnel through the system and be tracked), and provide RSS feeds for updates so that email doesn't get clogged with automated notices.  (Damn you, FogBugz!) It would also be nice if there was a desktop component, one of the features I do like about FogBugz, that allows you to take screenshots and submit them directly as new cases.  The tool should also be able to consume the tracker's RSS feeds and give you notices.  Rather than function as a standard feed reader, it could consume Atom (for example) with extra data specific to issue tracking, and let you filter it a bit on the client side, or respond directly to the system.  Yeah, that would be nice.  For now, though, I would settle for a really simple system like 16bugs that was not hosted or encrypted (like Olate's Arctic, which isn't bad but still not quite the solution).  Know of anything good?

Comments

Just came across this blog post - I'd be interested to know why you decided Arctic was't what you were looking for. Perhaps you could drop me an e-mail with some feedback when you get a chance?

Yeah, I know about Trac. The problems I have with Trac are:

1. It requires Python and Python bindings to Subversion, which are not the simplest things to make work on servers that are not under my control.
2. It fairly requires subversion to be effective, and some of these projects don't use subversion. (Yes, I know, the horror!)

Generally, I'm not fond of trac's issue tracking capabilities. After having used Trac so much for WordPress, if I really liked it, that would have been my go-to software. Pinpointing why it's not is more difficult to explain. I do like the timeline feature with the subversion diffs, but the issue tracking itself seems a little lacking to me. The Wiki feature is sub-par, usually pointless, and resultingly superfluous.

How can we improve BUGS to further fit your needs?
Let me know if you want to have a peek at the 2.x version, which is under development - maybe it's something more along the lines of what you need?

-zegenie
Project Manager, BUGS - the Bug Genie

My team is using Trac with Subversion. It's pretty slick. I'm not sure it hits all of the points that you listed, but it definitely gets a lot of them.

If you like 16Bugs and you think Bug Genie is good then I suggest you take a look at Flyspray( www.flyspray.org ). It is the only Bug/Issue/Feature tracking system that was intuitive to use, nice looking and fast.

If you need more workflow and email handling options, take a look at Eventum( eventum.mysql.org ), the issue tracker developed and used by the MySQL team.

My needs for a Bug/Issue tracking system include full integration with Revision Control and Wiki(which means I gotta integrate them myself). These three form the holy triumvirate of developer centric development.

The TRAC proponents will chime in here but TRAC is an excellent integration of tools with an average feature set for each tool.

--
zegenie,

I didn't see it mentioned but a full API to perform every operation is a must(XMLRPC/REST/SOAP).

The main page of Flyspray is so clogged with data... I'm not sure how you could say it's aesthetically comparable to 16Bugs. Both Flyspray and Eventum are no better in terms of UI than Mantis, which is to say, not good.

Still looking...

Thanks for the links.

I keep coming across lists like those and going though each tool and finding that the project no longer exists, or the project ceased development before HTML 4 came out. It's kind of funny. Maybe serious projects where everyone's a developer don't need anything more than your standard email-based system, like Debian uses.

I guess I should add more to my requirements to get specific: I would like it to be in PHP so that I can easily modify it. So that eliminates all of the Perl and C# trackers that are out there.

I would also like it to be pretty. It's a dumb requirement in bug tracking, I guess, but if clients are looking at it, it would be nice if it wasn't square boxes of web-safe colors and hordes of tables. A little Ajax would be swell.

RT is the seminal open-source project tracking application. I've only dealt with it as a user a few times, and never as an administrator, so I don't know how easy it is to use. I believe it's a mod_perl application, which may or may not cause complications for your installations.

A quick Google search suggested Double Choco Latte.

This page lists some other options to explore.

The Debian Bug tracking system might merit investigation: it works well enough for the Debian project. I don't know how well it'll satisfy your Subversion integration goals, though.

I'm also on a quest to find a nice piece of project management software.. So far the best on the list are trac and mantis. But so far, I'm not liking Trac very much. Their web admin support for projects, versions and components is non-existent, which I could not believe my eyes when I first figured it out.. You have to use the command-line for that? Are you joking?? And you have to assign a component to a specific person, why? The software design seems not very well thought out and structured and it's cumbersome to use if you ask me. Mantis is *far* more flexible in these regards.

If a windows solution is an option, then you might find that the free, open-source BugTracker.NET at http://ifdefined.com/bugtrackernet.html might satisfy some of what you want. It has the same kind of email integration as FogBugz, but it is built to be more customizable. It's easy to both add more custom fields or REMOVE fields and make it very simple.

No RSS support, though.

http://www.ifdefined.com/doc_bug_tracker_custom_fields.html
http://www.ifdefined.com/images/bug_tracker_1.gif

Sorry, forgot to mention, good integration with subversion (but again, windows-centric):
http://www.ifdefined.com/blog/post/2007/10/BugTrackerNET-integration-with-Subversion---design-choices.aspx

Take a look at MySQL's Eventum software. It's free, and they update it quite often. Eventum also supports IMAP/POP3 integration. It ended up being a simple solution for our modest issue/bug-tracking needs.

http://dev.mysql.com/downloads/other/eventum/

If you are still looking, JTrac may be a good fit for your needs, the ability to customize workflow is one of its strong points:

http://jtrac.info

Have you checked out Trac? On the opensource front, it's one of my favorites.

If you are looking for a commercial product that is going to adapt to your workflow, you are not going to find it. Your best bet is to find one that is similar enough and then adapt your workflow to it. If that's not an option, you may have to roll your own, or customize an opensource package.

If you are finding that Basecamp is a good fit, your needs are probably not comprehensive enough for these larger tracking programs like FogBugz

John, please read comment #2.

People who don't read before they comment or who comment only to promote their own product (even when it's just linkage) are people not high on my list. Naughty.

Hi Owen,

I'm also looking for a bug tracker and found all of those suggested to be lacking. 16bugs is indeed the best looking and if you ever found one comparable and open-source, write up a blog post about it!

BTW, your blog's dates are not working.

Thanks.

I'm also struggling to find a Php Bug tracker.

I've been playing with PHPCollab (www.phpcollab.com). It's an old, old project that seems to have been abandoned. Which is a shame because it's fantastic for project and task management (you'll just have to believe me, they don't have screenshots or a demo, ug!). It doesn't really have Bug tracking though it says it integrates with Mantis. I'm not really interested in linking it with Mantis b/c Mantis is too cluttered for me. However I was considering the idea of putting a task in each project called "BUGS" and then put subtasks under that for each bug. Cludgy I know. But I'm getting desperate.

I also really like Bug Tracker (www.twbsd.org) which is the most visually clean and simple bug tracker I've found. My only complaint so far about it, is when you install it, it comes with a huge number of initial SQL tables, and then when you add new projects- it actually creates 3 new tables for each project. UG! I'm not impressed with that, but I may be forced to put up with it anyway since it has the nicest bug tracking system. But, it has ZERO project/task management- which I may be able to put up with if I either A. combine it with PHPCollab, or just use the company wiki I set up (Dokuwiki). Bug Tracker also has some language issues with it being poorly translated to English, but I can fix that myself if I decide to go with it.

*arg* I've been hunting for so long (used your article and the comments to investigate other options like Trac and Flyspray) but have not found anything that meets my needs. I'm /this/ close to writing one myself. *sigh* ;)

Great article and discussion.

It's funny that this thread is resurfacing.

One of my Habari compatriots (Habari is the blog software that runs this site) has recently applied a series of custom plugins and a theme to a Habari installation and has arrived at a reasonably useful issue tracking system. And it only took 3 hours to develop the fundamentsof it.

If he smooths out the edges as I'm sure he will (and I'll help if I can) then we'll have not only something that works well as a tracking system, but will likely be open-source, installable, and extensible for whatever other issue-tracking/project-management/revision-controlling needs a project might need.

Well, your blog post turns up first if you search Google for "simple php bug tracker" so it was the first thing I read. There are SO many options out there, just nothing that is simple and super polished.

An interesting post, with some useful comments too.

I've been looking for an open source issue tracker (ideally a project task tracker which can also do bug tracking), and too have not found an ideal solution, esp. if non-coders are to use it.

For example flyspray is a contender, though lacks subtasks which are usually needed for project tracking. Flyspray is similar to mantis, though has a more intuitive and customizable interface. (Projectpier is a simple project tracker, though no good for bug tracking).

The two possible feature-rich solutions I've found, ClockingIt and Redmine, run using Ruby on Rails, and need some knowledge beyond the easy install php varieties. And many shared hosts can't run Ruby apps well even if it appears on cpanel. If you want to go down that route, the host webfaction supports Redmine with shared hosting.

But I'm still searching for a php solution...

I know the previous post is over 3 years ago but as there's a lot of useful info on different systems to check out, and this page keeps being returned in the top Google searches ("funny" that !) decided that a short comment is worth it for others.I too have been looking for a good Issue Tracker (not just for bugs) for years (many too complex or not aesthetically pleasing) and have recently come across a fledging offering called SPIT (Simple PHP Issue Tracker). It would not meet the OP's requirements but for those looking to implement a PHP tracker, this straightforward app could be what you're looking for.

SPIT can be downloaded from this site - http://spit-foss.org/

App is written by Nick Bolton (who wrote MailWasher, Synergy)

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