Tracking Issues

Have you ever logged a bug against an (open source) piece of software? Were you happy with the results? No? That makes two of us...

Somewhere in april 2002, I logged a bug against OpenOffice 1.0.2 its workprocessor, Writer. The problem was that the index of a document wasn't correctly exported to MS Word 97 or 2000. I logged a beautiful bug. I entered the steps to reproduce, made screenshots, attached documents and tested on both Windows and Linux. One and a half year later, the bug got fixed. Well, actually, it didn't get fixed. It just got fixed as a side-effect of some brand-new code in the upcoming new 2.0 version.

I was very annoyed and went to I decided to dive into IssueZilla, to see why it all took so long. I never found out why, but I was amazed by the complexity and history of some bugs.

Bullet bug

For instance, bullets seem to be a constant pain. Search for the word 'bullet' in the issue system. Two-hundred-twelve issues! One of the core issues is issue 3839. The problem seems to be that the bullets from a bulleted list are created using the StarSymbol (also known as OpenSymbol) font. When the document is exported to MS Word format and opened on another machine where the StarSymbol font is not installed, MS Word tries to find an alternative and fails, showing funny characters like little numbers in a circle.

What's worse, the bullets from StarSymbol aren't standard characters; they're placed in a part of the font that's "free for all", i.e. any font maker can put their own character in it. This makes it difficult for MS Word to automatically find a replacement. This is explained in issue 4387 quite well.

After the issue was fixed for MS Word, the pain continued on a smaller scale because the issue wasn't fixed for RTF (Rich Text Format). As a side-note: the power of prioritization shows here; the issue with RTF was logged earlier, but there is more pressure to implement operability with the native MS Word format(s).


But the problem is not over yet! When you're American or European, you basically assume that everyone writes from left to right with the letters A to Z. Imagine the bugs that crop up when a nice girl from Israel uses numbered lists with bullets in them.

Then, after a long list of duplicates, issue 31372] comes around. It's basically a turnaround: most features around bullets and numbering will be behaving themselves like they do with MS Word. Of course, this'll bring on a whole new slew of issues...

Some random observations

Things that get obvious when browsing through OOo's IssueZilla:

To conclude, we can see that we should respect the people who eat, sleep, and breathe quality assurance. Without them, most projects would be lost.