5 Tips to Ensure a Bug-Free Software Development

Does your software application have bugs? Of course it does, since every software programme available out there has problems and bug-free software story is a myth. However, it is still possible to significantly minimize bugs, errors and security problems by following a few bookish yet practical curtailing techniques.

There is a lot of discipline involved when it comes to bug tracking, as it requires encouraging everyone to stand by the rules. Especially in startups and creatively driven industries, it can be pretty difficult to discourage any informal communication. In fact, in many cases people don’t name ‘bug tracking’ as their most focused part of a project.

What is bug-tracking really about?

What is bug-tracking really about?

According to Technopedia: “Bug tracking is a process used by quality assurance personnel and programmers to keep track of software problems and resolutions.

A bug tracking system, therefore, manages all the information about reported errs and keeps track of the status of each bug. You definitely see the need for extensive information while tracking problems. Providing sufficient data not only requires a huge amount of time but also abundant skills in the field of software development.

The bug classification

There are three types of software bugs:

  • Incorrect specifications
  • Implementation defects
  • Missing specification

Any of these bug types can be easily classified as a critical issue (or reclassified as an improvement). Mentioned ahead are some of the reclassification guidelines that are used by Sam Hatoum, Founder of Xolv.io.

  • Is the incorrect specification causing us a loss? For instance, specification states track clicks count, when it should be track spending Reclassify Bug.
  • Can the implementation defect be neglected? For instance, web font is being installed when it should be embedded in the software.
  • Does the missing specification imply new functions? For e.g. users are not able to share and edit their profile details on social networks.

The stakes are raised for the product managers to efficiently classify bugs, since the development team is instructed to prioritize bugs over all other work. The developers will not work or anything else until all bugs are removed.

Forming team quality standards

When a design and development team decides whether or not an app virus can be reclassified as an improvement, that decision process implicitly states the team’s quality standards. For example, a brand owner that emphasizes high quality visuals might have low tolerance for design discrepancies. They would, instead, reclassify these problems as bugs.

A consistent reclassification system allows you to continually adapt expectation vs reality, while maintaining a structured delivery approach that puts your team quality standards first.

The bug failures

Recent studies claim that almost 40 percent of system failures are caused by software bugs, while other security problems and program vulnerabilities account for 60 percent, caused by common memory and concurrency related issues. Reducing software bugs in your application is the best way to increase the security, stability and reliability of your software.

Tips to Ensure a Bug-free Software Development

During the development of the logging tool SmartInspect, the developers used many methods to keep the quality of their system high. The list mentioned ahead contains some of the techniques they used.

1. Creating room for communication

Creating room for communication

Detecting and reporting bugs requires the skills to identify relevant information which is then added into every problem report. There are many bug tracking and quality assurance tools like Usersnap that offer the ability to automatically attach the needed information. Nevertheless, there will always be room for missing or misunderstanding information, resulting in a need for proper communication.

In certain testing scenarios, there is no room for that kind of disclosure between the developers and testers. Questions like: ‘How can I get in touch the experts in charge?’ or ‘Is it okay to ask for feedback via phone or email?’ need to be answered at the beginning of the bug tracking process.

To avoid misunderstandings on the behalf of testers and developers, try bringing everyone on the same page and create a feedback-oriented culture where the work of both parties are respected in the same way.

2. Keep it one-on-one

Avoid discussing bugs in a project meeting. Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing bad about working as a team, reproducing and fixing bugs. But don’t discuss problems in prolonged meetings with the entire cabinet. According to Thomas Peham, a tech-blogger at Usersnap.com, reporting bugs and then discussing them in the next development ‘retest’ phase is quite a slow approach.

It is, indeed, way more efficient to keep it one-on-one. As Yegor wrote in his article on the 5 principles of bug-tracking, each bug report is linked between two people – the specifier and the problem solver. No matter how many people are involved in the process, there are only 2 main responsibilities (with two different roles) for solving a reported issue.

3. Ensure a buy-in from your team

If your entire team does not use it, a good bug tracking database would be ineffective. It is best to start off by getting all your stakeholders (customer service, quality assurance, project managers and developers) to evaluate tools and try to make a decision together; logging and addressing defects in a consistent manner by using the same system.

If you’re struggling with getting people on-board, here is what you can do;

For developers, lay down the law of accepting bug reports through individual databases and not any other method. When testers send you emails with feedback, simply ask them to toss the reports in the information system instead. In addition to ensuring things stay organized, this also helps with reporting by providing all the necessary information and defining the necessary fields.

Another way to create a more efficient process is to have QA, or support verify bugs from customers and add the exact steps in the database before the developers are even notified. Effectively tracking your software issues is one of the most essential aspects of having a reliable and consistent project management framework.

  • A good debugger

Visual Studio

If you use systems like Visual Studio or Delphi, you already have access to an extremely powerful debugger that you should utilize. In case of a scripting environment where developers often try to eliminate bugs by trial and error, the process not only becomes a cumbersome way of identifying and solving problems, but is also very dangerous if you don’t fully understand your code and are unable to step through it with a debugger. Do yourself a favour by getting a good debugging platform for your team – there are debuggers for almost everything.

4. Know what a ‘closed’ bug means

Have you ever been involved in a discussion about closing a bug? Well, congratulations, you have been in the worst possible bug tracking situation that could ever take place.

If you find yourself in a discussion of the ‘bug status’, consider taking a step back and asking yourself the following questions:

  • Whose responsibility is it to accept results?
  • What are the criteria of acceptance?
  • Who is responsible for giving the order?

Take a look at the meaning of ‘closed’. In the majority of development teams, a bug is closed by the person who fixed the error. Peham recommends closing the bug report by the person who reported the problem. Once the solution for a certain bug is put forward by the developer, the reporter should be asked to close the report. This would ensure the feedback is a sufficient solution for the software muddles.

5. Virtual machines

In order to test your software for bugs on many different operating systems and environments as possible, you should use virtual machines with tools like Virtual PC or other available virtualization software. You can save tons of time through this method because you can easily copy, share and reset the virtual machines, allowing you to test your software on all kinds of configurations.

It’s always preferable to create various standard images for all operating systems you regularly test and put them on a file server. When you are in need for a highly specific configuration to test something, you can start with one of the base images without installing the operating system, required software and drivers and so on.

It is not a new concept

When Hatoum came up with this concept, he found out that the idea of Zero-Bug software is not a new one. It has in fact been around since the 1960’s, like many of the forgotten old-school philosophies.

The legendary quality expert, Phillip Crosby, invented the term Zero-Defect while working at the Martin Company or as presently known ‘Lockheed Martin’ where it was reported they achieved “a 54% defect reduction in defects in hardware under government audit”.

Initially, the Zero-Defect technique was used in aerospace manufacturing in the 60’s, and was then applied in automotive manufacturing in the 1990’s. There are many similarities between the manufacturing industry and software delivery.

The popular agile management modality Kanban, for example, originated from the Toyota Production System. What this basically tells us is that we can easily look into these manufacturing processes for tech inspiration in software or app development, and Zero-Bug is one of those inspirations.

The extreme cost of meeting the standard, however, is one major criticism of the Zero-Defect approach. And if implemented incorrectly, this can indeed be true. In the Zero-Bug approach, Hatoum has directly dealt with this issue through the reclassification of bugs to features and significant improvements, allowing the cost to be controlled through the team’s quality standards.

Start today

As tech-users and developers, you can start to go through all the existing glitches and classify them by using the aforementioned system. If you think you have hundreds of thousands of issues, this might be a good time to backlog them and start anew. Don’t worry, you can always move bugs from the archives to the current domain as you need to.

The development team does not necessarily have to wait until the entire classification exercise is completed before they start squishing bugs; they can get started as soon as a few bugs are classified. The team must not start working on any other items in the backlog until all items are ‘bug freed’ or reclassified. It is this very rule that compels product managers to prioritize new work correctly.

Summing it up

Every reported bug in a project demands additional time to be fixed. Bug tracking therefore requires great communication skills from individuals tracking the bugs as well as sensitivity from those fixing them. With the aforementioned tracking hacks, your team can try to be more productive while reporting any kind of tech or security hurdle.

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  1. Your article is insightful.

    I think choosing the right bug manangement tool is also important. The second most important thing is to implement Scrum without giving up. For example, some of the team members were not used to the Scrum tool, ZenTao project management software. It is open source and covers the whole lifecycle of software projects. They tried it and gave up pretty soon. The project management was a mess at that time, so they had to implement the tool again. Then the messy situation was ameliorated.

  2. Very nice you article
    Thanks for sharing keep up the good work

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