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UKUUG Linux Developers' Conference
Linux 2002
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4 - 7 July 2002
Bristol

Simon Myers - GBdirect Ltd.

Using RT to Keep Track of Bugs, Ideas, Users, and Your Life in General

Developers generally aren't fond of administration, yet all serious development projects involve admin to some degree. RT is a tool designed to ease this burden, keeping track of things so you don't have to.

Its basic unit is a ticket - a single issue which requires coding, discussing, documentation, declining, or in some other way resolving. RT stands for Request Tracker, and has its origins in e-mail helpdesks. Each new cry for help is assigned a ticket number. E-mail correspondence is routed by RT, so that mail on a ticket is only delivered to those designated as being responsible for that ticket. Internal e-mails can be sent making some comment on a ticket without the requester being aware of this. A web interface shows queues of pending tickets, and allows updating tickets' status, sending correspondence and comments, and searching for tickets. However, RT can also be deployed in a wide variety of other circumstances, including tracking development in software projects.

A separate queue is used for each project or team. A ticket is used for each bug in need of fixing, enhancement to be implemented, or issue to be discussed. Some of these could be originated by end users, but even if RT is just used internally it provides great benefits: all outstanding work is clearly listed on the intranet; developers no longer have crucial knowledge scribbled on the on the corners of their own mouse pads; when a bug is fixed, it's easy to mail everybody interested; when somebody's out of the office, you don't have to phone her/him at home because required information is only in her/his mail folders; if somebody brings up and old issue, you can avoid going over it all again by pointing her/him at the previous discussions on the intranet.

From a developer's point of view, RT can feel very liberating: not having to remember a dozen small bugs to work on in the future frees up your mind for concentrating on the catastrophe in need of fixing now. RT also has features making it particularly suited to development - fields for noting the time spent on a ticket, and triggers for automatic ticket updating on CVS commits.

RT is written in Perl and is completely free. It's highly customizable - you have complete control over who gets mailed what when, what the webpages contain and how the look, who can see what, and pretty much all aspects of the system. (With a smattering of hackery, you can even tweak the parts you aren't supposed to reach.) This makes it useful for tracking all kinds of things - personal 'todo' lists, office politics discussions, purchases, recruitment...

This talk also mentions RT's limits. The biggest downside to RT is the effort involved in getting it fully installed, and the time taken customizing it. As such, it's possibly not worthwhile devoting time setting up RT unless you're fairly confident you want to use it. This talk will help you make that decision, as well as offering tips on customizing RT.


Programme Timetable Dinner Call for Papers
Location Accommodation Booking Form Exhibition


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Astaro Network Firewall
 
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AMD
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Perforce
Borland
Borland

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