As a software designer or development project manager, you work hard to ensure the code you and your team produce is as flawless as possible. However, just like seasoned writers still make small errors from time to time, even highly experienced developers and software engineers make small coding errors that need to be caught before the final product is shipped. But it’s impossible to catch every error before release. That’s precisely why bug reports are so critical for development teams.
In this article, we’re exploring how to write a bug report that will help your teams find and fix errors quickly and easily. We’ll also look at a bug report example and show you how Wrike can help you develop a software bug report template that will reduce time and energy spent creating bug reports in the future.
Why bug reports are important
First things first: what exactly are bug reports, and why are they so important to software development teams? Put simply, a bug report identifies an issue with a piece of software. Bug reports don’t have to be complicated, but they should contain enough detailed information that the developers can quickly understand exactly what the problem is, what specific action or actions triggered the bug, or if the issue happens sporadically with no identifiable cause.
Bug reports are critical for any organization that writes code or develops software products because they help ensure quality control. Without proper testing and documentation of issues using bug reports, development teams may inadvertently ship a product that has a defect or error.
How to write a good bug report
So, what exactly makes a “good” bug report? Generally speaking, you want to keep your bug reports simple and to-the-point, yet detailed enough that the developers can easily identify the problem and implement a solution. To ensure that your development team gets everything it needs to solve the issue at the outset, structure your bug reports to include the following essential information:
- Bug name and a brief description
Like any good report, your bug report should begin with a name and brief description of the problem so that the engineering team can know exactly what’s going on and what part or feature of the software is affected.
- Environment details
Just like actual bugs can only survive in certain climates and conditions, virtual bugs may only appear in certain cyber-environments. In this section of the bug report, you’ll identify things like:
- The device or hardware you’re using when you encounter the bug, including the specific model
- The operating system you’re using
- The type of account you’re logged in with
- The version number of the application or program that you’re testing
- The type of internet connection you’re using, if applicable
- The number of times you’ve been able to reproduce the bug as well as how many times you’ve tried
- Steps to reproduce the bug
Here, you’ll write out the exact steps you took that triggered the bug so that the developers can repeat the process and test it for themselves.
- The expected result
What were you expecting to happen when you followed the steps outlined in section three of the report? Be as detailed as possible, and remember that it’s always more helpful for the developers to know what should have happened when you followed those steps instead of what should NOT have happened.
- The actual result
This is the section in which you can tell the developers exactly what happened when you followed the steps that triggered the bug. Did the app crash altogether? Did it boot you out of the system? Did it display an error code? Remember to be as specific as possible. Simply saying, “The command didn’t work” isn’t exactly helpful.
Proof of the problem will go a long way in helping your programmers get to the bottom of the bug. Whether it’s a simple screenshot or a short video, try to include some sort of visual evidence with the report.
Finally, you can help your development team members better organize their work by rating or classifying the severity of the bug. Keep the rating scale simple — here’s an easy template:
- Mission-critical: this bug impacts or prevents user flow or app usage altogether
- Medium priority: this bug negatively impacts user experience
- Minor: everything else including formatting or layout issues, typos, etc.
Bug report example
Here’s an example of a simple bug report laid out in an Excel spreadsheet:
How to create a bug report template in Excel
As you can see from the example above, you can easily create a simple yet effective bug report template in Excel. First, make a column to contain the main bug report components, including the bug name and description, the environment, the steps to reproduce, the expected and actual results, and the assigned priority. You can also include a section to place a link to your proof, or you can simply attach any screenshots or video to the digital report when you email or otherwise transfer the bug report file to your development team lead or product manager.
While Excel spreadsheets can help you get up and running with bug reports, managing these documents can be burdensome. Luckily, Wrike makes it simple to create a bug report template that can handle your organization’s growing needs.
How to use Wrike to create the best bug reports
With Wrike, you can easily create customized bug report templates that are perfectly suited to your organization’s specific needs and the various types of software development projects you routinely perform. What’s more, you won’t have to worry about keeping up with constantly changing spreadsheets that are exchanged via endless email chains. That’s because Wrike provides a single, unified platform to store, share, and maintain all the reports, updates, and other documentation associated with each individual project.
You can get started with Wrike today and give your software engineers the detailed, organized reports they need to efficiently find and eradicate those bugs — try a free two-week trial today.