Ever since Joel Spolsky dazzled me on his FogBugz World Tour stop in Philadelphia, I wanted to try the software out myself on some real projects. At the event, I was told that there was a Micro-ISV FogBugz on-demand account option that allows free usage for up to two user accounts. Since there are only two programmers in the “skunk works” group I am a part of, we both were excited to start integrating FogBugz into our daily routine. Well, our initial excitment sputtered out for a while as we were both very busy and basically I was too lazy to sign-up. Thankfully, I came to my senses a few weeks ago and finally got an on-demand account. Ever since then, I’ve been using FogBugz as my sole bug tracking system for both my primary project, the RMCP and for an iTunesU integration app. So far, I am loving it. It is by far, the most polished bug tracking software I have ever used.
Of course, FogBugz 6 has more than just bug tracking features, but let’s be honest, that is its bread and butter and entering/updating/closing cases is what I spend the majority of my time doing. This means the UI needs to be fast and intuitive. For the most part, the Fog Creek developers succeeded. Entering cases in List view is fast and doesn’t require me to use a mouse, which when entering dozens of cases in one stretch, as I had to do when migrating my data from Mantis, saves a significant amount of time and carpal tunnel pain.
We use Subversion as our source repository. Supposedly, FogBugz 6 can integrate with it so that when I post a check-in comment, it will be reflected in the case history within FogBugz. Unfortunately, I could not get this functionality to work. I setup things on the Subversion side, added the commit scripts they provided, tested that they are parsing my comments properly and making requests to the FogBugz server, but still, nothing shows up in my case history. Now, it might be because I didn’t do the second half of the integration which requires you to setup FogBugz to automatically link to your subversion commits through a Web front-end like WebSvn. I don’t have a Web server running on the Subversion box, so I skipped this step. I just use SSH, which works fine for our two person group. I don’t see why it should matter and I didn’t find any errors in their commit scripts. So, I don’t know what happened. I’ll probably get back to trying again sometime before the Holidays.
Of course, the big new feature in FogBugz 6 is EBS or “Evidence-Based Scheduling.” However, I don’t have enough data in the system for it to give me anything accurate, yet. A review of this neat feature will have to wait a few months.
The feature I have been using the most recently is the new Wiki. I have been writing a functional specification for an iTunesU application in it. I have tried to use different Wiki platforms in the past, but they have either been too complicated to setup or were easy to setup, but inexplicably failed to work right. The Wiki in FogBugz is both easy and works great, with some minor issues.
The best part of using the Wiki for writing documentation is that the rich text editor they created is fantastic. It is FAST, simple, and lets you quickly accomplish the four primary work flow tasks you encounter: writing, formating, linking, and inserting pictures. Writing is easy. Formatting is as simple as clicking tool bar buttons. Linking is nice because there are some shortcuts. For instance, if I just add a link to “Technical Specification”, the wiki assumes I mean an article within the current wiki, called “Technical Specification.” But, if I put in a full URI to an external website, it works as expected.
A nice feature that is only appreciated when you need it is the real-time resizing of inserted pictures. You just grab a corner and drag to resize. There is no need to resize things in Photoshop and then re-insert. It is a small thing, but it saved me a lot of time today.
The only issues I’ve had so far were first, a nagging problem with the drop-down menus not dropping when running in Firefox. I upgraded to Firefox 22.214.171.124 and that problem vanished. I also continue to find it a bit frustrating that I can’t seem to set a default font, so I have to constantly highlight and reset fonts for body text and headlines if I want anything besides the defaults used. Finally, this may be more of a browser problem than anything about the wiki, itself, but when I view my article, my chosen fonts don’t look very good and spacing seems to be off, but within the rich text editor, things are peachy. I may have to adjust the template the wiki is using.
Overall, I think FogBugz 6 is a great tool. It is by far the nicest bug tracking software I’ve used. I am generally a big OSS user and I feel a bit guilty using a proprietary bug tracking tool when we have an embarrassment of riches of respectable bug tracking software in the OSS world. But, frankly, nothing is quite as polished and integrated as FogBugz. I shall continue using this software for the foreseeable future and when I get my own micro-ISV up and running, I’ll definitely be considering a personal on-demand account. I recommend it.