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I'm currently working mostly alone on a project (in Java). I'm mostly alone as I have an advisor that gives me high level instructions on what to do, and will seldom make any code contribution. She will code in a couple of acceptance tests from time to time, though.

I've never used an issue tracker before, and was thinking about starting to use one now, as I'd like to have a place where I can log possible bugs I find and keep track of them in a centralized manner. Would it be possible to integrate the issue tracker with Eclipse, better yet.

So here are the constraints:

  1. It's NOT a open-source project. Our code is not to be shared with anyone!
  2. we are and will be using Subversion;
  3. we have our own Subversion server and we will keep using this same Subversion server;
  4. it must be free;
  5. it must allow at least 2 users.

What is your advice on what to pick? I'm looking for the simplest solution available.

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I think your interpretation of an open-source project in point 1 is flawed. Project, e.g. redmine can be released under an open-source license, GPL2 in this case; and you can still use it in commercial projects without sharing your property code with anyone. GPL2 states you can't modify and sell Redmine itself without sharing the modified code. As I already mentioned, simply using Redmine doesn't force you to share any of your data. –  bbaja42 Dec 28 '11 at 17:01
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I think he means that his code is not open source, hence he can't use for example GitHub, Google Code or Codeplex. –  Zeta Two Feb 9 '12 at 22:37
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17 Answers

"the simplest solution available" is of course a judgement call.

I find FogBugz very easy to use and can recommend it for the use case you are describing. It is free for teams of two people and very affordable for larger ones, has an Eclipse plugin and integrates with Subversion.

In the interest of full disclosure: My experience with FogBugz has been with the on-premise version with the Visual Studio plugin and Perforce integration and not the exact setup you are looking for.

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@devouredelysium If you use the free hosted version whatever you enter in FogBugz (i.e. the bug reports etc.) will be stored on FogCreek servers. Since you would be using your own Subversion server, your code would remain with you. –  PersonalNexus Dec 28 '11 at 11:03
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You could also take a look at BugZilla. See also this comparison of different bug trackers on programmers SE. Trac is also a good alternative to use as a tracker.

Another option is Sourceforge. To my knowledge, it is free regardless of the number of users. It includes an SVN repository (which you probably will not be using) and a tracker. For an example of how this tracker looks like, see this example form the Audacity project (open source recording software).

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You can use Mantis: http://www.mantisbt.org/index.php

It's pretty simple, and it con be configured to integrate with SVN and Eclipse: http://www.unitz.com/u-notez/2009/10/subversion-svn-integration-mantisbt/ http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2939794/mantis-bug-tracker-api-integration

That said, sticking to just the basic features of Trac can make it pretty easy to use, too: http://trac.edgewall.org/

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SVN + Trac + Eclipse with SVN Team Provider plugin (& Mylyn if you want)

This will work for both concurrent personal and team projects.

From Eclipse (with the above plugins and Trac XML-RPC plugin) you and your team will be able to

  1. access and use the SVN repo from within Eclipse and without restriction
  2. track issue tickets via Trac
  3. set personal and team tasks via Mylyn
  4. track time spent by project members on each task
  5. see all of the above in a single dynamic workspace
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For small projects, I've become a big fan of Trello. It has such a low barrier to entry, and such high usability, I would use it for any smaller projects.

If you want something a bit more complicated-looking and feature-complete, I'd second the suggestions of FogBugz or Bugzilla.

Edit to provide more "explanation and context":

The most common issue that I've noticed among smaller teams without dedicated project managers is that so many things just don't get entered into the system. Either the devs don't take the time to enter en everything that needs to get done, or the issues are only sporadically updated as the work progresses.

Trello encourages users to actually keep the system up to date with good data by making it stupidly easy to add new issues and update the status of existing issues.

Most notably, its system of "lists" inside of boards can be easily and quickly tweaked to represent almost any system of milestones and issue-types that a small project would want to use.

It also supports more common issue tracking tools such as commenting on issues, voting on issues, reordering, tagging, and assignment - but they're all hidden out of your way (but pretty much right where you want them when you need them).

Bugzilla is a fine, fully-featured issue tracker, but there's no denying that it feels like creating and editing bugs is expensive. FogBugz lessens much of the subconscious pain of tracking everything in your project, but still has enough edits and screens to feel like more work than, say, simply dragging a card from "doing" to "done" in Trello.

tl;dr - the best way to keep an issue tracker relevant and up to date is to make it as easy to use as possible, and that is what Trello was built to accomplish.

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One important thing to remember about Trello is that you can create as many boards as you want. So, for example, instead of keeping all your bugs on one board, have a board dedicated to newly-discovered bugs, and then move them to the main board when you're ready to work on them. (You can now move cards between boards in Trello.) –  Kyralessa Dec 28 '11 at 20:15
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Trello was exactly what I thought when I saw the question. It's not a full blown bug tracker but it's so easy to start a board. No setup or install need. And for 2 people, it would be super simple to track bugs, features, and ideas in a flexible interface. –  chauncey Dec 29 '11 at 2:02
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It may not be "simple", but I consider it one of the best issue trackers in the business: Jira from Atlassian. It comes with a starter license of 10 users for 10 (aussie) dollars... I am using it as a solo-developer. (Please note that the site seems to have a preference for showing "on demand" licensing/pricing, and you may need the "download" pricing).

Another big plus for this starter rate: the full proceeds are donated to the Room to Read charity. So you can benefit from a full-featured bugtracker and feel good about it too :-)

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For really really simple issue tracking, you can always use a spreadsheet like Excel, or an MS Access database. These are basically toys compared to real issue trackers, but they have the advantages of low learning curve and low barrier to entry: just make a spreadsheet and add columns as you need them!

Excel is nice for this since you can sort and filter by column, and easily generate charts and graphs to track progress. See this article for more: http://chandoo.org/wp/2009/09/08/issue-trackers/

A nice MS Access Issue Tracker template is available here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/issue-tracking-database-TC001225348.aspx

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To help Steven out, there are many free spreadsheet solutions out there: OpenOffice / LibreOffice has the programs that I use the most myself. –  Bob Cross Dec 28 '11 at 16:32
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I'd be very wary of (ab)using Excel & friends as issue trackers. You'll probably run into trouble with concurrent access, plus there are so many dedicated issue trackers, so why not use them? –  sleske Dec 28 '11 at 17:51
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I would consider using spreadsheets harmful in this case. –  z-boss Jan 4 '12 at 20:52
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My vote is for Redmine. It is completely free and integrates well with Subversion.

project management web application. Written using the Ruby on Rails framework, it is cross-platform and cross-database.

Redmine is open source and released under the terms of the GNU General Public License v2 (GPL)...

Some of the main features of Redmine are:

  • Multiple projects support
  • Flexible role based access control
  • Flexible issue tracking system
  • Gantt chart and calendar
  • News, documents & files management
  • Feeds & email notifications
  • Per project wiki
  • Per project forums
  • Time tracking
  • Custom fields for issues, time-entries, projects and users
  • SCM integration (SVN, CVS, Git, Mercurial, Bazaar and Darcs)
  • Issue creation via email
  • Multiple LDAP authentication support
  • User self-registration support
  • Multilanguage support
  • Multiple databases support...
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My recommendation:

A file named bugs.txt in the repository root.

Advantages:

  • It's a .txt. Means you aren't tied to a particular system/software

  • It's dead simple.

  • You get to decide what works for you with this method - my example one goes something like this:

filename.ext.class/method: refactor when I get the chance, that regex is really screwed up.

filename2.ext.class/method: got a lovely UI bug with that, doesn't work in Mac Chrome. Screenshot: imgur.com/foobar

  • Cross platform. As soon as you do a svn checkout <url>, you have your bugtracker there - you also can use $IDE-of-choice - to it, it's just another text file.

Disadvantages:

  • gets unwieldy after more than 2-3 developers.

  • No way to really assign it to a person.

  • No way to embed images of UI bugs and such.
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Aha! Found it! It wasn't a shell script after all - it's written in Ruby. It's called ditz, and it works fairly similarly to your own text file, but in a YAML database. –  greyfade Dec 28 '11 at 19:19
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For my small team (mostly just me alone), I've been using CodeTrack. It works really great for me, because it only needs PHP on the server, not even a database.

You can just download it, extract it on your web server and it works almost instantly. Moreover, the code is really simple, so you can easily customize it for your exact needs.

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YouTrack from JetBrains (the company behind IntelliJ IDEA and ReSharper) seems very promising, though I still have limited personal experience with it.

  • It's hosted in cloud and setting up your own instance is very quick (maybe 5 mins)
  • Free for <= 9 users. (Also, even the biggest plans covering 2000 users is free until Feb 29, 2012)
  • Supports Open ID login (e.g. from Google)
  • Has good keyboard shortcuts

From what I've used YouTrack so far, at least I much prefer it to JIRA.

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Check out ditz.

It's a very simple command-line-driven issue tracking tool whose database you can store in your code repository.

There are no fancy UIs, only a simple command-line tool. It's similar in spirit to @jrg's suggestion and the TODO.txt tool.

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basecamp.com - one project is free, the interface is very simple, and you can be up and running in about two minutes with nothing to install

now get back to work ;-)

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Have a look at Asana. It's a simple, free web-based project tracking tool. I've been using it for projects and tasks at home. You can create multiple projects, and assign them tasks. For any given task, you can set:

  • Person assigned to
  • Due date
  • Any number of text tags
  • Attached files
  • Changes
  • Notes (one note field per task)
  • Comments (any number per task, chronologically arranged)

You can prioritize items with something called "priority headers". You can also schedule items as "today", "upcoming", or "later" to get a basic idea of what needs to be worked on soonest.

It's still a work in progress, but it's got a very slick interface and it's easy to use.

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The simplest bug tracker out there is a stack of 3x5 index cards (or 4x6 if you've got big handwriting), a box of push pins and your cubical wall, IMO. If you don't have a distributed team (you don't since you're working alone), this is fine. Keep in mind that you want to have the lowest impedance possible with a bug tracker - if it's hard to write up a bug or jot down an idea for an improvement, you're not going to do it. When something is done, it comes off the wall and goes into a done pile.

Granted this fails the integration with Eclipse point, but for a solo developer, do you really need it? If your adviser isn't going to be fixing bugs, then they don't need access to the cards (or they can stop by and take a look). If they are writing up acceptance tests, you can jot down the gist of those tests on the card that it is applicable to.

I'd be interested to figure out what's driving you to look at a tool. Do you need some sort of bug metrics (average time open, total open vs. closed, etc)? Why is the integration into Eclipse important?

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If you don't expose sensitive information in bug reports and comments so I'd recommend Google Code. We used its Issues feature in the past for one of our projects with a team of 8 devs. It's really simple, easy, and good enough for a small team.

Note that although you need start an open source project but you don't have to upload your code to Google, jus using Issues feature. And of course, anyone can see your bugs if they accidentally found your project, or you share project link with them.

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Trackie is extremely simple but flexible.

It is aimed at small tech or semi-tech/semi-creative teams with a need to keep track of issues in a simple, one-view way. It supports custom statuses (with custom colors) of issues, as well as priority and assignees.

While the UI is already very simple and clean, an extra simplified UI is presented to users who are added to a project as a Client.

Lastly, it accepts issues by email. Not only directly, but also if you forward a client's problem to Trackie, any correspondence with your client will from then on run through Trackie without your client even knowing it. Keeping everything in a single place.

It is free while it is in private beta. Whether it will remain free is unclear at the time of writing.

Disclaimer: I am the developer of this issue tracker. But I think this answer is relevant to the OP nonetheless.

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