BKO: Managing Bugs via email

This is the second post in my blog series: bugs.kde.org for developers.

For an Open Source developer email is one of the most important developer tools. We communicate on mailing lists, receive review requests through emails, get notified about new user support questions in the forums, ensure that all commits had been reviewed by using the commit filter and so on and on. If you are a developer interacting with bko you should probably already know that you can receive mails from bko. But there is much more into it.

Why receive mails for Bug Reports?

Getting mails for bug reports means that you have all your development discussion in one place: your email program. It is very easy to escalate a bug report by just forwarding it to the mailing list. But that is not the real advantage of it. Consider you want to answer to the user, how do you do that? Well of course you go to the web application. No! You press reply and send the mail to bko. All mails sent from bko have a reply-to header set to ensure that your reply will end up in the bug tracker. This makes it very easy to just reply to a comment on a bug.

Another advantage is that you start to collect a local copy of the bug reports and history of your product. Up to now I have collected close to 27,000 bug mails for kwin in one mail folder. Thanks to Akonadi and Nepomuk it is very easy and fast to perform full text searches which comes very handy when looking for a duplicate. Most duplicates can just be found by filtering for the subject if you have an idea how the bug was called.

Managing Bugs

But you cannot only receive comments and send comments to the bugs, you can do much more. You might not know it, but if you add

BUG: 123456

to a git commit the hook on our servers will send a mail to bko. This means you can even set bugs to fixed just by sending out a mail. For a complete documentation on how a mail has to look like please refer to the documentation on Bugzilla’s mail interface. Btw. if you don’t know that there is documentation about Bugzilla: you can find all available documentation about Bugzilla here. BKO currently uses version 4.2, be aware that not all documented features might be available on BKO.

Mail Settings and Following Users

BKO gives you a very fine grained control on when you want to receive mails for your bug reports. For that select “Preferences” and then the second tab called “Email Preferences”. So you can fine tune when you get a notification. E.g. you might not be interested to get a mail whenever someone is added to CC.

But much more interesting is the “User Watching” functionality on the same page. This allows you to receive emails as if you were the person you are watching. So if you follow a user who will receive emails for those bugs he is assigned to as if you were assigned to the bug. This is a very handy feature if you have a bko account for your project such as “kwin-bugs-null@kde.org”. So I’m following this user and that’s the reason why I complain when someone reassigns a bug to product kwin and forgets to reset the assignee to default: those following the user won’t be notified and the bug is kind of lost (a better workflow for this will be discussed in my next post).

What else?

Since the upgrade of our bugzilla installation bko can send out HTML mails. By default bko sends out plain text mail and I use plain text mails everywhere except for bko. With HTML mails you get nicely formatted tables whenever something changes like for example the component. It is in my opinion much easier to read and that’s why I use HTML mails for bko.

You can enable those in the last drop down of the “General Preferences”.

3 Replies to “BKO: Managing Bugs via email”

  1. If even you are using HTML email, maybe it’s time to set it as default. Few purists would be able to disable it anyway.

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