One of the things I need to do at my new job is get an issue tracking system in place. At Reslife, we put in Cerberus for tracking help desk request. Coming into a place that doesn’t have any type of system to track issues made me realize how much I took Cerberus for granted. Cerberus (www.cerberusweb.com) is a nice simple ticket tracking program. It worked very well for the church’s needs, but for software development we need something more powerful and specialized. Specifically here are some of the things I’m looking for:
- Integration with version control. If someone commits a change to version control and the comments reference a particular issue, I want a notice to show up in the tracking system that links to the change. This needs to happen automatically.
- Tracking estimated and actual time spent on each issue. For some reason most tracking systems don’t have this feature, but I think it is very important in order for a team to learn to estimate well. By being able to look at several months worth of estimates and compare them with actual time spent, developers should be able to become better at creating realistic schedules.
- Email notification. Obviously the system should email you if something changes on an issue that you are “watching”. It would be nice if you could respond to an email and have it posted back to the ticket. (This is what Cerberus did a good job of.)
- Dependency tracking. If item A can’t be completed until item B is done, the system should keep track of this.
Some of the System I’m looking at:
So far JIRA looks like the best option. But since it isn’t free, I’ll probably need to use something else for awhile. I installed Trac, but it doesn’t seem to do a very good job of keeping track of users. Also it is fairly complicated to get running on Windows.
We’ll probably end up using Scarab. It seems stable and has a decent user interface. There are some scripts that will allow it to interface with Subversion and it handles email notifications and dependencies. It doesn’t do time tracking out of the box, but there may be a way to configure this.
Scarab was created as a general tracking platform. Almost everything is configurable. You can specify a multi step process for entering a new item and include things the checking for duplicate entries. It isn’t as feature rich JIRA, but it looks like several people have started developing on it again, so hopefully it will continue to grow.