Bug reports that delight engineers: 8 important points to consider

Anton Bravin
Updated on
Mar 28, 2024
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In the world of software development, bug reports are the lifeblood of collaboration between testers and engineers. An effective bug report can significantly streamline the debugging process, leading to quicker resolutions and happier users. In this article, we will explore the essential elements of a good bug report and provide you with valuable tips and tricks to make your bug reports stand out. With this knowledge, you can write bug reports that will make your engineers love you!

Understanding bug reports

A bug report is a formal document that identifies and describes a software defect or issue. It serves as a communication tool between testers, developers, and stakeholders. A well-crafted bug report provides essential details to reproduce the bug reliably, helping engineers identify and fix the problem. The key elements of a good bug report include a descriptive bug title, a detailed description of the bug's behavior, information about the environment in which it occurred, and any visual proofs like screenshots or videos. Effective bug reporting streamlines the debugging process and contributes to a more robust and stable software product.

QA engineers typically create bug reports in bug tracking or issue tracking systems. These systems are specifically designed to log and manage bugs, defects, or issues found during the testing process. Some popular bug-tracking tools include Jira, Bugzilla, and GitHub. These platforms allow testers to document and track the details of the bug, collaborate with developers, assign priority levels, and monitor the status of bug resolutions.

8 essential elements of a good bug report

A bug report consists of several parts. While the order can vary, each point holds significance in providing valuable information to address the issue accurately.

1. Bug title (bug ID)

Start your bug report with a clear and descriptive title. The title should give engineers an immediate idea of what the issue is about. A well-crafted title provides a concise summary of the issue, making it easier to understand and prioritize. Here are some tips on how to create an effective bug report title:

  • Be specific: The title should accurately reflect the problem without being too vague or overly detailed.
  • Include key information: Mention the key component, feature, or functionality affected by the bug.
  • Use clear language: Avoid jargon or technical terms that may not be easily understood by everyone.
  • Be concise: The title should be short, but it should reflect the main issue.

Example of a good bug report title:

"Login Button Not Functional on Mobile Devices"

This title clearly identifies the specific issue (non-functional login button) and specifies the affected platform (mobile devices).

Example of a bad bug report title:

"Problem with the Feature"

This title is too vague and doesn't provide any information about the bug or its impact, making it challenging to understand the issue at first glance.

2. Description

Simply put, the description in the bug report expands the bug title.

Ensure your bug report includes a comprehensive and succinct description of the issue's behavior. Clearly specify the observed behavior. Additionally, include relevant details about the bug's occurrence, indicating whether it happens constantly or intermittently. This information will aid in the efficient resolution of the problem by the development team.

3. Steps to reproduce

The more precise your reproduction steps, the easier it will be for engineers to identify and fix the problem. This section should provide a clear and detailed set of instructions that allow the engineers to recreate the bug in their testing environment.

When describing how to reproduce the bug, follow these pieces of advice:

  • Begin by numbering each step sequentially for easy reference.
  • Be specific and detailed in your instructions, ensuring there is no ambiguity.
  • Include all necessary actions, inputs, and conditions required to trigger the bug.
  • Mention any relevant configurations, settings, or data used during the process.
  • Test the steps yourself to confirm accuracy before submitting the report.

Example of Steps to reproduce section:

  1. Launch the application "App" on a Windows 10 PC.
  2. Sign in with the username "testuser@example.com" and password "Password123."
  3. Navigate to the "Settings" menu from the top-right corner of the dashboard.
  4. In the "Settings" menu, click on the "Preferences" tab.
  5. Enable the "Auto-Save" option by toggling the switch to the right.
  6. Go back to the main dashboard and create a new project named "Test Project."
  7. Upload a file larger than 10MB (e.g., "large_file.zip") to the "Test Project."
  8. Wait for the file upload process to complete.
  9. While the file is uploading, try to access the "Reports" section from the left-side menu.
  10. Observe that the application becomes unresponsive, and the loading spinner persists indefinitely.

4. Environment

Include information about the software version, operating system, and device where the bug occurred. This context is vital for engineers to reproduce the bug accurately.

5. Visual proofs (videos, screenshots)

A picture is worth a thousand words! Attach videos or screenshots that demonstrate the bug's occurrence. Visual proofs can significantly aid engineers in understanding the problem.

6. Console logs

If applicable, share relevant console logs that capture error messages or additional information related to the bug.

7. Expected results

Clearly state what you expected the software to do. This provides engineers with valuable context to understand the discrepancy between the actual and expected behavior.

Example of Expected Results section for the bug where the Submit button does not redirect to a confirmation page:

Upon clicking the "Submit" button, the user should be redirected to the confirmation page, which displays a success message confirming the registration process. The confirmation page should also include relevant details such as the user's name and a unique registration ID. The user should be able to navigate back to the home page from the confirmation page by clicking on the "Home" button in the navigation bar.

In this example, the Expected Results section clearly states what should happen when the Submit button is clicked — redirecting the user to the confirmation page with a success message and specific details. This information provides a clear understanding of the correct behavior, aiding developers in resolving the issue accurately.

8. Prioritizing and classifying bugs

Not all bugs are created equal. Use categories such as critical, high, medium, or low to convey the bug's urgency to the development team. This classification helps engineers allocate their time efficiently and tackle the most pressing issues first.

Bonus tips and tricks for effective bug reporting

Apply suitable tools. Collect data from testing platforms and test reporting tools to streamline the process of identifying issue root causes. Zebrunner testing platform and Zebrunner automation reporting utilize advanced AI/ML algorithms to automatically detect the reasons behind failures. Additionally, these tools offer various test artifacts like logs, video recordings, and screenshots, enabling in-depth analysis of the issues.

Include relevant attachments. Upload any necessary files or data that can help engineers in their debugging process.

Use a standard bug-reporting template. Employing a consistent bug reporting format improves readability and ensures that all essential information is included.

Test on multiple environments. Verify if the bug occurs on various platforms and configurations. This helps identify whether the issue is widespread or specific to certain environments.

Avoid making assumptions. Present your observations without interpreting them subjectively. Stick to what you can see and reproduce.

Report one bug per report. Focus on one issue at a time to maintain clarity and prevent confusion.

Provide regular updates. Collaborate with engineers by sharing additional information or progress updates. Keep the lines of communication open.

About the author

Anton Bravin

Product Marketing Manager

8 years on a mission to bridge the gap between cutting-edge products and the audiences who need them most. Anton speaks the languages of developers and customers, allowing him to craft compelling narratives showcasing true value.