Thursday, March 4, 2004

Automated IDE incedent reporting - Redux

Thank you for all your responses to my question about IDE incident reports. You have certainly confirmed my suspisions that many folks would find this a very reasonable and useful addition to the IDE. However, some comments did mention some legitimate concerns. Here's how I'm thinking it will work.

When an exception is raised in the IDE (remember not all exceptions indicate that there is a "defect" or "bug", thus the term "incident."), a slightly modified error dialog is displayed that includes an extra "Details" button. When this is pressed, the dialog will unfold to reveal a listbox containing a detailed stack trace from the origin of the exception. That by itself would probably be extremely useful to the component developer even without the next feature.

On the dialog, there is now a "Send" button that will display a wizard that will walk the person through the process of gathering additional information in order to send a copy of this detailed report back to Borland. They are given the opportunity to supply a description and possibly reproducable steps that are added to the report. They will also have the option of supplying their Quality Central user id/password so that the report will be sent as being reported by them and will allow them to query the QC database for all their "Incident Reports" and track their status. If they don't want to do this, they can choose to report anonymously, at which point the report will only be seen by QC Sysops. All reports are marked as private such that only QC Sysops and the reporting individual can see their incidents until a QC Sysop makes them public. This will tend to keep the number of redundant publicly visible reports to a minimum and allow for a more formal review process.

The whole point of this is to not be overbearing and intrusive. The user can elect to install or uninstall the add-in. The user is in full control over when and what reports are sent back. Just like the integrated Windows XP crash reporting system, this allows the user to choose when to send the information. However, unlike the Microsoft version, you can actually see the reports in the publicly available Quality Central database. They don't merely disappear into some random bit-bucket on some mystery server up in Redmond, WA...

If you're interested in becoming a Quality Central Sysop, please read the Quality Central Sysop Guide.

Stay tuned for more information on this.