How to Write a Good Bug Report | Testworthy

Have you ever had trouble creating a good bug report? Is it difficult for developers to find and fix the bugs you identify?

A software bug is a fault or flaw in software that prevents it from working as it should and causes it to deliver wrong results. Software needs to be free of any errors or bugs. In today’s fast-paced world, users expect flawless products or they quickly switch to competitors or stop using the software altogether. Testers can quickly fix bugs with effective testing procedures and test case management. However, good reporting procedures are also crucial for testing success. Report writing is a basic but crucial skill that can aid in test case management and improve software quality in the long run. Here are some tips on how to create useful bug reports.

Starting off right: writing a good title


Properly organizing workflows aids in test case management. For proper categorization, each bug should have a unique ID. The bug report should have a specific and clear title. For example, saying 'I experienced an issue...' is not a good title. The word “issue” is too general and does not tell the developer anything useful. Avoid similar vague words such as 'problem,' 'not working,' etc. The title needs to be brief but clear. Apart from the title, additional details, comments or information may be provided if required. This includes source URLs, labels and error codes, etc.

Helping developers find the problem


Testers should provide developers with step-by-step instructions to reproduce the error so they can interact with the bug themselves and better understand the problem.

Reproducing the error can be done in a single or multi-step process. This should be concise, short, and simple. You should number each step and make sure not to skip any step, no matter how small. Provide the exact data input that you used. Do a test run of your instructions: anyone who has not encountered the issue first-hand should be able to get to the error by following the steps you provided.

Describing the test environment


Your report should have details of the test environment, i.e., did you encounter the bug pre-production, in production, or post-production? Write down the exact device model, operating system, browser, and software/hardware version where you saw the problem. Accuracy is key. Check different environments to see where else the bug shows up. Additional information, such as internet speed, the device’s screen size, the time of the error, battery health, etc. may be added if relevant.

Contrasting results


It is important to write the Expected and Actual Results of your test. This gives a contrast between what should have happened vs. what actually happened. Results should be precise and not cause any ambiguity. For example, 'I thought this would work' is a non-specific and unclear statement. A good example of writing results can be the following:

Expected Result: All alerts and high-risk alerts should be turned off by toggling off the All-Alerts button.

Actual Result: All alerts and high-risk alerts are not turning off by toggling off the All-Alerts button.

Reading this helps developers understand what is required and what needs to be fixed.

Providing visual evidence


Visualizing the problem can enhance understanding. Hence, it is a good idea to include screenshots or video/screen recordings of how you encountered the bug.

Quick Tips:
  • - Only add pictures/details that are relevant. Do not add superfluous details.
  • - Make notes, highlight, and add comments where needed.
  • - Do not crop or miss any critical information. For example, the URL should be apparent in all screenshots.

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What to resolve first: assigning priorities


Describe the bug’s severity and priority. How important is it? How often is it appearing? It is essential to determine the bug's impact on the software and how much it disrupts the user experience. Priorities can be categorized, such as Low, Medium, and High, to determine risk. Assigning priorities helps you resolve the most pressing matters first.

Does the bug even exist: checking for repeatability


Make sure that the bug actually exists, i.e., see if it is repeatable or a one-time glitch. Sometimes, the software might not work due to an oversight by the user or an issue in the environment (such as a slow connection) rather than because of a bug. Check to confirm if repeating the same steps makes the bug re-appear. In cases where the bug only appears sometimes, note down the frequency of occurrence.

Bonus tips for good writing


Now that you know the essential framework of a good bug report, here are some additional tips to improve test case management and make your writing even better!

  • - Keep it simple!
  • - Don't delay reporting.
  • - Use an objective, non-critical tone when writing the report.
  • - Write one report per bug only
  • - Do not to re-report bugs.
  • - Use labels, IDs, and tags to separate and filter bugs.
  • - Proof-read the report
  • - Be concise and clear. Find an equilibrium between detail and brevity.
  • - Test different environments to check where else the problem occurs.
  • - Keep updated logs of all bugs and their status.
  • - Find a workaround for urgent problems. This acts as a temporary solution for customers and lets you use the software till the issue gets fixed.

Following the process described above lets you create high-quality bug reports and fix errors quickly.

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