I want to convince my partners that we should have a spec and that bugs should get fixed before writing new code. Should I refer to the Joel test? Do you think that the Joel test is up to date? I think that not having a spec is bad project management. Do you agree with the Joel test? Could you add something? It doesn't mention for instance Open Source.
I think the Joel test is up to date - its as up to date as much of the other s/w writing thats "timeless".
Doing product development (which includes s/w development) without a spec is just madness.
How do you know where you want to go?
There's only one point I'll make about writing a spec (I don't actually think Joels specs are very good... better than nothing, but not as good as could be). That point is:
When writing a spec, say only what the product must do, not how it is to be done.
This means you don't dictate implementation details in a spec. That's a design activity and you leave that to the experience and creativity of the designers.
[There is only one exception to this rule: Sometimes a particular implementation detail or method is mandated or required, in which case put it in. For example, if the s/w must be written in PHP and this is not negotiable, then it goes in the spec. There should be very few instances of this.]
I might add: not having bug tracking is an act of equal madness. It's simply the most unprofessional and foolish way to operate and will lead to great pain and suffering.