What is Bug Tracking?

Bug tracking is the process of capturing, reporting, and managing data on bugs that occur in software (also called errors and exceptions). The goal is to maintain high product quality, using two types of services: task management systems and bug capturing tools.

Nobody's perfect, and that goes for software too.

Bugs and software errors have damaged many reputations and are responsible for massive costs both in lost revenue and hours wasted digging through logs. Better bug tracking could have prevented a great deal of heartache all around the world. From a development standpoint, bugs come with the territory, as software projects grow in features they also grow in complexity. The time taken to discover and fix them becomes crucial to the product’s stability and the whole business success.

Two Types of Bug Trackers

When a development project truly excels, it converts customers into brand advocates and a cost center into a revenue stream. What that takes is a commitment for iterative improvement, employing two very different, but complementary, approaches to finding, fixing and preventing bugs: task management systems that evaluate and manage the bug-fixing processes and planning, and bug capturing tools that discover the bug and track its root cause, ideally before users encounter them.

These two aspects of bug tracking software speak to different management priorities and levels of responsibility within the organization. Here's an elementary breakdown of when each type is needed and the best practices in using them.

I. Task Management Systems

Project or task management systems are used as a large-scale overview of the project. Beyond merely tracking the progress of bug fixes, they provide insights into the performance of the development team in how efficiently they are able to handle bugs, and building new features along the side. Task management systems excel at tracking the life of an issue or task for a collaborative team.

The best systems include log management tools and prioritization logic to identify which bugs should be fixed first and how long each stage should take. Performance measures allow project managers get a better feel for whether the team can meet the target deadlines and expose consistently poor estimates that derail schedules.

  • What sub-projects need additional development work in the future
  • Where were the bottlenecks that are delaying handling bugs?
  • How accurate were the budget projections based on unscheduled bug fixes?

Upper management can also access this kind of task management platforms for a high-level outline of development schedules and a snapshot of where the project is at any moment. Teams need to accommodate the diverse working styles of their best performers, but not at the cost of a buggy code. Top-level managers need an accurate assessment of their team's performance in order to make reliable plans for the next round of development.

II. Bug Capturing Tools

While task management systems concentrate on the big picture analysis of all the tasks or issues that need to be completed for a specific project, the focus of bug capturing tools is to report live errors as they happen in your application and provide developers with important environment data about the error.

Bug trackers, or bug capturing tools in this case, categorize and de-dupe bugs so the development team can work right away on a fix. They should be as streamlined as possible to minimize the time and resource costs of isolating bugs, they use notification libraries that monitor applications for errors. After an error occurs, they collect all the most important details, like the environment, OS, application parameters, and browser version. Bug capturing tools allow developers to easily do a backtrace of active functions when the bug occurred.

Fixing a bug quickly is great. Fixing it before a customer gets disappointed is excellence. That means that the best bug capturing tools include a simple interface for communications about the bugs, automated notification systems to keep the team on schedule, and tools for searching bugs by type and importance.

The best of the bug capturing tools

Airbrake provides robust bug capturing in your application. In doing so, it notifies you with bugs instantly, allows you to easily review them, tie the bug to an individual piece of code, and trace the cause back to recent changes.
Airbrake enables easy categorization, searching, and prioritization of errors so that when bugs occur, your team can quickly determine the root cause. The amount of development time and effort saved by capturing your bugs with Airbrake is invaluable.

In Airbrake, advanced de-duping algorithms intelligently filter out the noise to present only significant error messages. For project managers, tracking data presents clear insights into which team members are consistently solving problems and what may be causing them. With the capability of supporting every major programming language, Airbrake continues to expand its reach. From the standpoint of consumers, perfection isn't too much to ask for when it comes to software they need.



Airbrake simplifies debugging with:

  • Crash reporting - receive immediate alerts to new errors in the communication tool of your choice (email, Slack, GitHub, etc.)
  • Error diagnostics - monitor trends and error history to help you locate when, where, and how the error was introduced
  • User monitoring - gain access to user and URL breakdowns to determine the scope and priority of errors
  • Data and analytics - separate old errors from new ones and keep an eye on how the error volume changes over time


Furthermore, because Airbrake works with all major programming languages, including Go, Ruby, Rails, PHP, Python, etc., it's easy to monitor code quality across your entire stack. It's just one of the reasons the world's best engineering teams rely on Airbrake. But don't take our word for it.

Stop losing customers to a bad user experience. Airbrake Error Monitoring can tell you what's broken, who's affected, and how to fix it. See for yourself with a free 30-day trial. 

“Airbrake has such an intuitive experience for debugging that it enabled a significantly faster triage process. For a recent issue, I started reading through the git diff (~1000 lines) and spotted the bug within a minute or two. The fix was deployed moments later. All in all it took just 30 minutes from error detection to deployed fix.”

- EatSafeCode

“It wasn’t until we switched to Airbrake that we finally were able to get our exception emails under control. The ability to see your errors in one place, mark them as resolved, and organize them by deploy makes all the difference."

- Groupon

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