Call The Exterminator

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Call The Exterminator

It’s one of the worst things to hear about your software when a user says, “I think I’ve found a bug.” Typically you’ve spent hundreds of hours developing this system, and it’s practically become a part of you. When you hear that someone has found something that doesn’t work right it can be both frustrating and discouraging. But I want to say, don’t lose heart. Every software has issues, bugs, problems or whatever you want to call them. It’s part of the inevitable process of creating something. The key is how they are handled.

Because of the vast differences that exist in server configurations, software versions, and countless other factors there will always be times when something doesn’t perform as it should…or in a way the user doesn’t expect. One of the keys is to determine what is causing the bug, and whether the problem is truly a bug or rather a specific user’s expectation of the software to do something it doesn’t which may be considered a feature request.

We have a standard process that we follow when an issue is raised and I thought I would take a minute to share it simply as a “for what it’s worth” post. We don’t claim this to be the only way or even the best way to handle bug fixes, but we have found it to work well for us.

The first step is awareness. We can’t fix a bug that we don’t know about. We have a member’s area with a discussion list where our members can post issues, questions, or bugs. We get constant emails directly from this list so we are always aware when new items are posted. We try to respond immediately to each post because we want our users to know their issue is important to us.

The next step is replication. We have numerous fresh installs of the last several versions of our software. We will try to replicate the error that was mentioned. (If we don’t get enough information we respond to the post with a request for more detail about how the error was caused, any messages received, and what their setup is -you’d be surprised how many posts don’t provide enough information for us to know how to replicate the problem). At this point we may be able determine the problem is not with the software but with the user’s expectations or knowledge about how it should work. (This is a great time to discuss documentation and education of the user). If the problem is genuine and we can replicate it then we move to the next step.

Step three is a quick one. Now we have been made aware of a bug and been able to replicate it. Things need to move fast from this point forward. All of our software is under version control using a git repository (we use With each repository we have an issue list that holds all outstanding issues and feature requests. Typically if the issue is a large one we associate it with a major milestone, our large number version releases, if the issue is a small one that will be fixed quickly (as most are) then we add them to the immediate fix list.

Next we work on resolving the bug. We test and retest on our local copy of the software until we have successfully solved the bug. Once we have successfully fixed the bug we package the software locally and install it on a fresh Joomla! install to verify that it is fixed.

Then we commit the work to the repository. We push first to a development branch and collect a handful of fixes before pushing to the master branch. (At this point this action automatically deploys it to our demo site – but that’s another post).

Last step involves packing the software and pushing it to the member’s area and updating the version script so that our users are all automatically notified that a new version is available. (This is all automated too, and I’d be happy to share if anyone were interested.)

We then typically post a reply to the discussion so the specific user that found the bug is notified via email that their problem has been resolved and what version resolves it.

And that is how we handle a bug fix. We do that multiple times a day. We work extremely hard and extremely fast to address each one. Hopefully this provides some insight into how much work goes into each fix and how we handle them, hopefully to the delight and surprise of our members.

If you’re not already a part of CRMery we would love to have you join us and experience our service and support firsthand.

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