Over the last few years, developers got some super powers. Or at least, technologies enabled developers to do amazing things. And that’s incredible.
However, there is one big challenge that comes with every new website or app. Something we – the tech-savvy people – call “a bug”. And those bugs are giving us, the developers, a hard time. And those bugs are the reason, why we need to use bug tracking systems in order to find, document and solve these bugs.
Today I’m going to present you 7 excellent open source bug tracking tools which help you to get started with the bug tracking game.
Why open source bug trackers?
Open source solutions are a great and easy way to make yourself familiar with a new topic. Most open source tools are the easiest way to learn something new or to set up a new workflow within your team. And most importantly: They are free to use.
And why do you need a bug tracking tool?
A bug tracker is an essential tool for any web- and software project. In order to make progress with our software projects, we need a simple, yet effective, workflow which allows us to report, document and track errors and failures which our software or website is causing.
All in all, we took a closer look at the following open source bug tracking tools:
- Mantis BT
Trac is more than just a bug tracking tool. It’s an open source project management tool, wiki, and issue tracking system. Specifically designed for software development projects.
Trac describes itself as a minimalistic approach for web-based project management systems. It is minimalistic from a design perspective. Yes. But it definitely doesn’t lack any key features.
Trac enables you to create project roadmaps, milestones and you can even fully modify the issue reporting area to your needs. Since we’ve used trac over the last few years, we have an extensive experience with trac and it’s deep integration possibilities enable you to do a lot of great things.
However, I have to say that it probably takes quite some time to get a deep understanding of trac’s feature-rich interface.
- trac is written in Python and was initially released 9 years ago (Oct. 2006)
- trac is great for tech-savvy software teams looking not only for a bug tracking solution but for an overall solution for project tracking.^
- trac is available under a modified BSD license
Similar to trac, Redmine is a web-based, open source bug tracking & project management tool. It also offers other project management related tools, such as time-tracking, wikis, calendars, and other reporting tools.
Therefore, Redmine is definitely more than just a bug tracking tool. Redmine is used by many web development teams around the world for managing their projects. With its features, it can easily be used for agile or scrum workflows.
From my perspective, it can also be an alternative to JIRA or to Microsoft Project, because it offers similar benefits.
If you want to take an in-depth look at Redmine, I’d recommend this article on how to get more out of your Redmine projects.
- Redmine is written in Ruby on Rails
- Redmine is a cross-platform application offering a wide range of project management & -tracking tools
- Redmine got released under the GNU General Public Licence 9 years ago.
An alternative to Redmine is OTRS. OTRS stands for Open-source Ticket Request System and is a free and open-source ticketing system. Being a ticketing system it can not only be used for your bug tracking efforts. With its help desk features, OTRS is a great, free customer service solution too.
- OTRS is mainly used for customer support, ticketing, and issue tracking.
- Written in PERL it was initially released in 2001.
4. Mantis BT
Initially released in 2000, Mantis BT is one of the old kids in town. Written in PHP and available in 49 different languages, Mantis BT is a widely used bug tracking tool.
Mantis got its name from the Mantidae family of insects, colloquially referred to as bugs. That’s also the reason why Mantis BT uses a bug as their logo.
With the release of Mantis BT version 1.2.0, an event-driven plugin system was introduced. As being one of the elder kids in town, I personally found Mantis BT quite old school. Also if you compare it to other issue tracking tools.
- Compared to other open source tools, Mantis BT primarily focuses on the topic of bug tracking.
- Initially released in 2000, Mantis BT was written in PHP and is still used by a lot of development teams.
Bugzilla was one of the first web-based bug tracking tools. It was originally used by the Mozilla project. Bugzilla was (and probably still is) one of the best-known bug tracking tools. And I guess there was a time when there was no way around Bugzilla if you were looking for a bug tracking system.
Today, Bugzilla is still used by big enterprises as well as some pretty huge open source projects.
- Bugzilla’s main focus always was (and still is) the topic of bug tracking.
- Initially released in 1998, written in Perl, it’s definitely an old dinosaur which is still around.
WebIssues is an open source, multi-platform issue tracking system. As it says on its website, it can be used to “store, share and track issues with various attributes, description, comments and file attachments”.
The latest version of 1.1.4 was released in August 2015 providing a simplified mobile version of the web client.
- Compared to the other, covered open source bug tracking tools, WebIssues is one of the less popular ones.
- Its clear focus is on issue and defect management
Fossil is another, simple-to-use issue tracking system. However, Fossil not only supports bug tracking but also offers a wiki and other project management related features.
The key component of Fossil is its distributed version control system. Though Fossil seems to be a pretty stable bug tracking tool, its clear focus is on version control. This leads to the problem that it might not be the easiest tool for not so tech-savvy people.
- Fossil is written in C and provides issue tracking features as well as project management tools.
- Its clear focus is on version control
|Name||First released||Web-based?||Written in||Licence|
|trac||2006||yes||PHP||modified BSD license|
|Redmine||2006||yes||Ruby on Rails||GNU General Public License|
|Mantis BT||2000||yes||PHP||GNU General Public License|
|BugZilla||1998||yes||Perl||Mozilla Public License|
|WebIssues||2006||yes||PHP||GNU General Public License|
Wrapping it up.
We at Usersnap are fans of bugs. Yep. Because we accepted the fact, that life is full of bugs. And we love them. Therefore, we decided to build our super-cool bug tracking tool more than three years ago. If you look for an alternative to open source bug tracking, I’d highly recommend to check out our very own bug tracking tool Usersnap. It’s free for 15 days and allows you to easily set up a bug tracking tool, also loved by non-developers.