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Bug Reporting – Art and Advocacy

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This article highlights the essence and traits of finding bugs. It leaps to redefine the art, a tester should inculcate while finding a bug. It enumerates various artifacts in reporting a bug. Whereas, also voices the advocacy on the bugs that have been reported. The basic amenity of a tester is to fight for the bug until it is fixed.


As testers, we all agree to the fact that the basic aim of the Tester is to decipher bugs. Whenever a build appears for testing, the primary objective is to find out as many bugs as possible from every corner of the application. To accomplish this task as perfection, we perform testing from various perspectives. We strain the application before us through various kinds of strainers like boundary value analysis, validation checks, verification checks, GUI, interoperability, integration tests, functional – business concepts checking, backend testing (like using SQL commands into DB or injections), security tests, and many more. This makes us drill deep into the application as well as the business.

We would agree to the fact that Bug Awareness is of no use until it is well documented. Here comes the role of BUG REPORTS. The bug reports are our primary work product. This is what people outside the testing group notices. These reports play an important role in the Software Development Life Cycle – in various phases as they are referenced by testers, developers, managers, top shots and not to forget the clients who these days demand the test reports. So, the Bug Reports are remembered the most.

Once the bugs are reported by the testers and submitted to the developers to work upon, we often see some kinds of confrontations – there are humiliations which testers face sometimes, there are cold wars – nonetheless the discussions take the shape of mini quarrels – but at times testers and developers still say the same thing or they are correct but the depiction of their understanding is different and that makes all the differences. In such a situation, we come to a stand-apart that the best tester is not the one who finds most of the bugs or the one who embarrasses most programmers but is the one who gets most of the bugs fixed.

Bug Reporting – An Art:

The first aim of the Bug Report is to let the programmer see the failure. The Bug Report gives the detailed descriptions so that the programmers can make the Bug fail for them. In case, the Bug Report does not accomplish this mission, there can be backflows from the development team saying – not a bug, cannot reproduce and many other reasons.

Hence it is important that the BUG REPORT be prepared by the testers with utmost proficiency and specificity. It should basically describe the famous 3 What's, well described as:

What we did:

  • Module, Page/Window – names that we navigate to
  • Test data entered and selected
  • Buttons and the order of clicking

What we saw:

  • GUI Flaws
  • Missing or No Validations
  • Error messages
  • Incorrect Navigations

What we expected to see:

  • GUI Flaw: give screenshots with the highlight
  • Incorrect message – give correct language, message
  • Validations – give correct validations
  • Error messages – justify with screenshots
  • Navigations – mention the actual pages

Pointers to effective reporting can be well derived from above three What's. These are:

1. BUG DESCRIPTION should be clearly identifiable – a bug description is a short statement that briefly describes what exactly a problem is. Might be a problem required 5-6 steps to be produced, but this statement should clearly identify what exactly a problem is. The problem might be a server error. But description should be clear saying Server Error occurs while saving a new record in the Add Contact window.

2. The bug should be reported after building a proper context – PRE-CONDITIONS for reproducing the bug should be defined so as to reach the exact point where the bug can be reproduced. For example: If a server error appears while editing a record in the contacts list, then it should be well defined as a pre-condition to create a new contact and save successfully. Double click this created contact from the contacts list to open the contact details – make changes and hit save button.

3. STEPS should be clear with short and meaningful sentences – nobody would wish to study the entire paragraph of long complex words and sentences. Make your report stepwise by numbering 1,2,3…Make each sentence small and clear. Only write those findings or observations which are necessary for this respective bug. Writing facts that are already known or something which does not help in reproducing a bug makes the report unnecessarily complex and lengthy.

4. Cite examples wherever necessary – the combination of values, test data: Most of the times it happens that the bug can be reproduced only with a specific set of data or values. Hence, instead of writing an ambiguous statement like enter an invalid phone number and hit save…one should mention the data/value entered….like enter the phone number as 012aaa@$%.- and save.

5. Give references to specifications – If any bug arises that is contradictive to the SRS or any functional document of the project for that matter then it is always proactive to mention the section, page number for reference. For example: Refer page 14 of SRS section 2-14.

6. Report without passing any kind of judgment in the bug descriptions the bug report should not be judgmental in any case as this leads to controversy and gives an impression of bossy. Remember, a tester should always be polite so as to keep his bug up and meaningful. Being judgmental makes developers think as though testers know more than them and as a result gives birth to psychological adversity. To avoid this, we can use the word suggestion – and discuss with the developers or team lead about this. We can also refer to some application or some module or some page in the same application to strengthen our point.

7. Assign severity and priority – SEVERITY is the state or quality of being severe. Severity tells us HOW BAD the BUG is. It defines the importance of BUG from FUNCTIONALITY point of view and implies adherence to rigorous standards or high principles. Severity levels can be defined as follows:

Showstopper: Like system crash or error message forcing to close the window, System stops working totally or partially. A major area of the users system is affected by the incident and It is significant to business processes.

Medium/Workaround: When a problem is required in the specs but tester can go on with testing. It affects a more isolated piece of functionality. It occurs only at one or two customers or is intermittent.

Low: Failures that are unlikely to occur in normal use. Problems do not impact the use of the product in any substantive way. Have no or very low impact to business processes
State exact error messages.

PRIORITY means something Deserves Prior Attention. It represents the importance of a bug from the Customer point of view. Voices precedence established by urgency and it is associated with scheduling a bug Priority Levels can be defined as follows:

High: This has a major impact on the customer. This must be fixed immediately.

Medium: This has a major impact on the customer. The problem should be fixed before release of the current version in development or a patch must be issued if possible.

Low: This has a minor impact on the customer. The flaw should be fixed if there is time, but it can be deferred until the next release.

8. Provide Screenshots – This is the best approach. For any error say object references, server error, GUI issues, the message prompts and any other errors that we can see – should always be saved as a screenshot and be attached to the bug for the proof. It helps the developers understand the issue more specifically. 

posted Jan 3 by Arunkumaarts

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