No Issue Left Behind: Reducing Information Overload in Issue Tracking – Olga Baysal

Issue tracking systems are used for many purposes, like bug triage, project management and communication. Hence, data in these systems will grow, for example, Mozilla currently has 1 million bugs, and over 200 are added every day. Because of this, developers might miss important information. Olga’s research addresses this, by a survey on 20 developers and a prototype and evaluation to battle information overload.

Martin Best from Mozilla did a study to understand how developers engage with bugzilla. He made all his data available, so Olga used that for an exploratory study. On the data, she used open coding. From 1,213 quotes the authors distilled 91 sub-themes, 16 themes and then 4 concept categories: situational awareness, task support, expressiveness and everything else.

While task support and expressiveness are maybe logical, situational awareness was an unexpected concept. It means being aware of your environment, enabling someone to plan and to react to events. In the context of bus, this means: “what is this issue waiting on” or “who has tried to solve this before”

There are metrics dashboard, but those tend to be geared towards managers and not to developers, Also, they are not personalized.

Key information needs for such a system are, according to Olga:

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Based on these needs, the authors came up with a few potential dashboard and then conducted interviews with Mozilla developers. They gave feedback, like having a customizable layout, more specialized search functions and to generate the dashboard for a given time range.

Olga released the Dash tool based on this feedback:

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After release, the authors evaluated it again with developers from Mozilla.The results showed that using a dashboard reduced the number of bug related emails by 99%!

The main conclusion is, according to Olga, not to create a new tool to ‘fix’ BugZilla, but to show that qualitative analytics can help enhancing situational awareness.

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  1. Pingback: email is dead… | jammermac : engage, create, visualise

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