Help Dolphin by triaging bugs!

This blog post is for you if:

  •  you want to help to improve Dolphin, no matter if you have programming skills or not,
  • you want to know more about how quality assurance in a free software project works,
  • you’ve always wanted to contribute to KDE, but could not find a good place to get started.

Like every software project, Dolphin unfortunately has bugs. Bug reports are filed by users at bugs.kde.org, then we (the developers) read the reports and fix the bugs, and everyone is happy, right? Well, it’s not quite that easy.

Carefully reading a single bug report, including all comments, extracting all relevant information, and trying to reproduce and then analyze the bug usually takes quite a bit of time. It gets worse if a report is incomplete, i.e., if important information is missing, or if the bug just cannot be reproduced on the developer’s machine for some reason. Now consider how many open bug reports there are (currently 305 for Dolphin, not even mentioning wishes), that new bug reports are filed every day, and that lots of comments are added to the existing reports. Maybe you start realizing why we spend a considerable amount of time managing bug reports instead of fixing bugs, and why we are nonetheless far from being able to give every bug report the attention that it deserves.

To make working with the bug database easier and more satisfactory for everyone (users, developers, and also potential new contributors), I’m trying to revive the Bugsquad effort and organise a joint bug triaging event. The goal is to go through all Dolphin bug reports and improve their quality by

  • making sure that all important information is in the report and that the summary is meaningful,
  • assigning all Dolphin reports to the right components (right now, most reports are in the ‘general’ component),
  • marking bugs that can be reliably reproduced with the ‘reproduceable’ keyword,
  • closing bug reports that are not valid any more, and
  • requesting additional information from bug reporters if necessary.

It’s very easy to take part: just make sure that you have KDE 4.9.2 (a 4.9 or master branch checkout is fine as well), head to the wiki page on Techbase, read the instructions carefully, pick a batch of 5 bugs, go through them one by one and check if anything about the report can be improved. Always be friendly when you add a comment – keep in mind that the bug reporters have also sacrificed some of their free time to make Dolphin
better. Ask any questions in the forum thread that I have created for this purpose. I’ll check the forum regularly and try to help (please use this forum thread only for bug triaging-related questions, for nothing else, in particular not for reporting bugs). I don’t use IRC much myself, but you might also be able to find people who can give advice in the #kde-bugs channel (which is also strictly for triaging-related discussions only).

You’ll obviously need a bugs.kde.org account and ideally a KDE identity account, which works both for the wiki and the forum. Unless the permissions of your bugs.kde.org account have been upgraded, you can only add comments and not make any other changes (like changing the component or the version), but we want to double-check each other’s work anyway, so just add a link to the bug report and a short comment to the appropriate section of the wiki page, and someone else will have a look and make the change for you.

A final remark: I know that some people might think that I should better spend my time fixing bugs, rather than organizing a triaging event, because there are quite a few high-quality bug reports which I could start working on right away. However, I believe that a joint effort to go through all bug reports will not only make the work of everyone involved with Dolphin more efficient in the future, but also has the potential to attract
new contributors (as I said in a recent interview for Behind KDE, my own involvement with KDE started with a bug triaging event and fixing a small bug shortly after that). Therefore, I am sure that this organisational effort is a good investment.

Thanks for reading this! I’m looking forward to a productive collaboration – I’ll also take some batches myself next week. I don’t know how long it will take to go through all bugs, but I’ll post a bug triaging summary here when we are done.

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11 thoughts on “Help Dolphin by triaging bugs!

  1. markg85

    Hi Frank,

    I obviously want to help out, but you are a bit late.. When you initially posted a suggestion in this area i didn’t had a job and had all the time fro dug fixing weeks. Now, i do have a job and my time is rather limited.. I really wish you would have done this 1 month earlier.

    Do you have any idea when to do this bug hunting weekend?

    1. freininghaus Post author

      It’s unfortunate that you can’t help :-(

      However, if you have so much motivation and had so much time last month, you could have either started triaging yourself (I think you know a thing or two about working with bug reports) or, even better, offered help with the organization (it may not be obvious, but setting up the wiki page and the other things that needed to be done took quite a bit of time).

      About the “bug hunting weekend”: I’m not quite sure what you mean. Could you give a few more details?

    1. freininghaus Post author

      You’re right, and I apologize for being a bit vague about when it will happen and for taking so long to organize everything. Unfortunately, maintaining an application is a bit more time-consuming than I first thought. When you have a rather limited amount of time to work on KDE and an inbox which is full again every time you look into it, containing some mails which require a rather fast reaction, those things that do not have to be completed by a certain date get delayed unfortunately :-(

    1. freininghaus Post author

      Thanks for sharing this on identi.ca and for the hint about GoogleCodeIn, Hans! I hadn’t thought of the possibility to have bugs triaged within this program yet. The only problem that I see is the timeline – it’s supposed to start in one month, and if the progress we make is as fast as during the last 24 hours, all Dolphin bugs will already be triaged then. But maybe this could be an idea for other KDE projects? Dolphin isn’t the only one that needs a cleanup of the bug list.

      1. Hans

        No problems Frank, you’re doing a fantastic job with Dolphin!

        > The only problem that I see is the timeline – it’s supposed to start in one month, and if the progress we make is as fast as during the last 24 hours, all Dolphin bugs will already be triaged then.

        Haha, first world FOSS problems? ;)
        Indeed it would be good for most KDE projects, I don’t know if the BugSquad plans to do anything (I think they’ve done that in the past). Unfortunately I personally won’t have enough time to help out.

  2. mary

    Hi Frank– I plan to mention this help request for Dolphin on our podcast this week (sunday morning linux review) and include a link to your blog post in our show notes. I’ll also help out as best I can, too.

  3. quamis

    I created a user on kde identity, but cannot login on the forum now.
    When i first try to login i get “You already have an account on this forum (e-mail exists in our database). Please select the ‘choose from existing’ option below instead. ”

    If i select “Choose username from an existing forum.kde.org account” and fill in my username/pass, i get “The specified user does not exist”

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