Sat, 11 Mar 2006

I’ve spent part of the morning playing with Trac. I have to say I’m pretty impressed. It is still not in bugzilla’s league for a beast-sized project like GNOME or mozilla, which require sophisticated user handling and cross-project interaction, but for my personal projects, and possibly for small projects at work, so far Trac seems pretty good. Setting it up was easy (though bugzilla is pretty easy these days too, and would be easier if it supported sqlite, which it probably shouldn’t given the target market.)

Things trac needs to compete with bugzilla:

  • multiple projects per install.
  • Email notification that doesn’t feel hackish.
  • Well-integrated user management.
  • Keep up with the cool things bugzilla has on the horizon: XML-RPC, for example.

Things bugzilla needs before trac eats it for lunch:

  • Good source control integration, like trac has with SVN. (There are some ways to make this happen with bugzilla, but none are official/well integrated. To install trac you must specify an svn repo.)
  • Would be nice to have wiki-ish comment formatting.
  • Trac considers itself a repo for documentation and project planning. I’m not 100% sure that makes sense to put in bugzilla (large projects tend to want to do that kind of thing separately) but it sure must be nice for small projects to have that all in one bundle. And it sure is nice as an admin to be able to edit bugzilla’s front page like a wiki instead of hacking code. Picture, for example, how maddeningly cool our new browse.cgi would be if it were a wiki page (automatically generated when a new product was added) built with macros instead of hard-coded.
  • Simplify, simplify, simplify- adding/removing fields in trac is brain-dead simple, with a nice command line tool for it. It is still a pain in bugzilla, after all these years.
  • Make it work out of the box. Trac is quite useful from go; to make bugzilla feel polished you need to install and then fix stinkers like REMIND and LATER, which has been acknowledged to be a bug in bugzilla since 1999.

Both projects need to learn from bugzilla.gnome and bugzilla.kde and simplify/refocus bug views, and improve information for maintainers. Compare and contrast the dreadful spew of unuseful information I get at the top of a default bugzilla bug with the simple, focused view in And as already mentioned, every bug tracker should have something like b.g.o’s browse.cgi.