trac Bug / Defect Tracking Software Review

trac is a very minimalistic defect tracking system that has been around since 2006 (six years ago). In internet years where software come and go in just 1-2 years, this is a very long time.

Used by some of the big names such as NASA, WordPress, jQuery, and BitNami, trac is definitely worth to check.

There are four main features of trac:

Bug-tracking

trac primary use is as a bug tracking software and it serves its purpose perfectly. It comes with built-in fields (see table) that are the standard fields needed to track defects. For those who requires different or more fields, they are customizable and new fields can be added as needed.

Screenshot images and link to video recording of the defect can be embedded in the description field (for video, it requires third-party plugin).

For reporting, there are several built-in queries that probably fits most project’s needs. Custom reports can also be created using SQL. Color coded reports give very quick overview about the status of the defects.

Project-management

Although not a full-feature project management system, trac allows the creation of several milestones inside the project Roadmap. Description, date due, and date completed can be set for every milestone. The number of tickets active, closed, and the total tickets of the milestone will also be shown in the roadmap.

Documentation (using wiki)

Most of the trac feature is based on Wiki markup, so it is natural that it has document management system using wiki. Unfortunately wiki markup and creating wiki documents is not as intuitive as the common office software, and directory and file system, so users may need to learn wiki formatting. However, once the users passed through these learning curves, they will appreciate trac simplicity and extensibility.

Using Wiki, project team members can be given the permission to view and /or edit the documents. This can help to keep updated documents that everyone can rely on.

Version control integration

This is a great feature of trac, it can be linked to the source code version control and it supports SVN, git, and Mercurial. Changes to the code can also be viewed and it provides easy interface for team members to see the source codes and who commit the changes. This eliminates the need of checking out the entire code and of extra tool to see the changes.

Extensibility

trac’s open-source nature allows development of plugins to extend the built-in capability by many developers. Trac-hacks (http://trac-hacks.org/) is a good place to find them.

Some of the useful plugins may include the WYSIWIG editor, AccountManager, and Wiki/SVN statistics.

Strengths
  • Free
  • Extensible
  • Available on the cloud through some providers
  • Version control integration
Weaknesses
  • Require Wiki learning for unfamiliar team members
  • Too simplistic
Summary
Language Python
Application type Open-source web application, cloud available through some services such as Assembla
Costs Free for self-hosting, $9/month for start package on Assembla
Features Ticket system (tasks, bug tracking), wiki, project management (roadmap, milestones, timeline), linking between the revision control, ticket, and wiki content
Ticket attachment Images and videos (if less than 5MB, or use link instead)
Alert email Open-source web application, cloud available through some services such as Assembla
Ticket fields Summary, reporter, description, type, milestone, version, keywords, assign to, priority, component, severity

 
Extra resources:
Who uses trac
Bugzilla vs Trac vs Jira Review
Recommended Plugins

Author: Trijito Santoso

I’m Trijito Santoso, a Seventh-Day Adventist, a medical technology and computer science graduate, and a software developer. The reason why I shifted from medical technology to computer science is because I love to create things (design, software, articles, anything), and being a software developer allows me to create things everyday. I graduated from Northeastern University, Boston, with a degree Master of Science in Computer Science. My resume is available on my LinkedIn.

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