Bug Tracker Blog by Corey Trager

Where is your issue tracker in The Featuritis Curve?

by Corey Trager 8. December 2007 07:45

Have you seen this chart from Kathy Sierra?


I was reminded of it today by Michael Kölling, who writes:

"...even if some people can easily agree that we should fight feature creep and concentrate on the core features, they can never agree on what the core features are.

Too many people have their own favourite feature, that they see as absolutely essential for their daily work, and they will insist on it going in. And simplicity goes out the window quicker than a rat up a drainpipe."

I just added a significant piece of complexity to the permission scheme.  Back in the "Nice, but I wish I could do more.." era, BugTracker.NET didn't have any permissions at all.   Now it has a scheme that is fairly complex.  I wonder if it's pushing the app over the Happy User Peak?

The trick is to add those less commonly used features in such a way that they are there for those who need them but don't get intrude on the majority.   With BugTracker.NET, there are permissions that prevent people from doing anything unless the permission has been explicitly granted, but its default mode is that everybody has permission to do everything unless the permission is specifically revoked.   That approach helps keep the app simple for newbies, helps people install it and get started quickly. 

However, this new piece of complexity in the permission scheme (a way of grouping users who share the same permissions - it's sort of like a user "Role", but it can also be used to represent an external "Customer") intrudes a bit on the simplicity.  I haven't invested enough time in making it hidden by default.   So, I've got some work to do there.

The permission scheme is probably the most complicated bit of any issue tracker.  There's always somebody who wants just a little bit more granularity.   "Only a user who has Role A can edit field B, and field B appears only when issues of type C are in status D and being changed to status E, and only for project F....".     There probably is an issue tracker out there that can make THAT user happy, but I suspect that issue tracker is on the far side of the Happy User Peak.



12/14/2007 4:45:46 AM #

Trackback from Thomas Williams

Featuritis - Adding Features Causes Pain

Thomas Williams |

12/14/2007 5:06:21 AM #

G'day Corey - you've described this problem really well, of adding features to please just one user (and thus making the app more complicated for everyone). I reckon there's more to "featuritis" than Kathy's graph lets on; what do you think about my post at dotnetjunkies.com/.../396373.aspx ?

Cheers, Thomas

Thomas Williams |

12/14/2007 5:47:00 AM #

What do I think about your post?  I was thinking how much time per day I spend looking for things in the new MS Office!

Corey Trager |

12/14/2007 7:29:23 AM #

Me too! Smile

I'm just concentrating on the Office 2007 UI, because I know MS added features *and* tried to make all the features more discoverable. And I do reckon it's an improvement: Try going back to Office 2002...

I totally agree with Kathy's premise and your issues. Maybe I'm just reading more lately that points to UI design as answering the problem in part. The alternatives (keep the number of features constant? Not add features?) are not very promising.

Is there a piece of software that you admire as a kind of benchmark for your UI? Something simple, done well?

Cheers, have a good weekend, Thomas

Thomas Williams |

12/14/2007 2:55:50 PM #

FogBugz.  More info here: ifdefined.com/.../...rackerNET-versus-FogBugz.aspx

Specific ways I've followed FogBugz:

* The way it integrates the incoming email, outgoing email, and file attachments into one single chronological thread, instead of putting the emails all together in one tab, comments in another, attachments in another.   Along with that, its, and BugTracker.NET's, ability to display images inline in the chronology. Seen here in my app: http://www.ifdefined.com/images/bug_tracker_1.gif

* The dedicated screen capture utility.  I don't know if FogBugz did it first, but I learned about it from FogBugz and then created one for BugTracker.NET.  That tool really changes the behavior of testers.  They create more and better bug reports.

* With FogBugz 6.0, all the AJAX.  I rewrote how most of the links on my edit_bugs.aspx page work as a direct result of being shamed into by seeing how nice FogBugz 6.0 uses AJAX.

Corey Trager |

6/29/2008 1:13:59 PM #

Trackback from Thomas Williams Tech Blog

Featuritis - Adding Features Causes Pain

Thomas Williams Tech Blog |

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