Monday, November 26, 2007

How To Enjoy a Week of FogBugz

I have been on an eternal struggle to find the rights tools to keep me organized and on track with my projects. Flying blind is just not something I can do, with such a wandering mind. I especially like time tracking tools, because if I am tracking my time in a task, I am far more likely to focus on it until it is complete. Distractions make a lier out of me. When Joel Spolsky blogged about the Evidence-Based Scheduling in the newest release of his FogBugz product, I finally decided to try the service out for a new project I am starting on over the holiday. It has been about a week and I already have some really good impressions.

As far as bug tracking goes, FogBugz seems to be bare a good deal of similarities with Bugzilla, but is still very familiar to a Trac fan. They've even added a Wiki, although I've not used it. I'm working in solo on my FogBugz trial, right now. (More on that later.) I do wish for dependancy field on cases, instead of just linking to them in the comments. Overall I don't have many wishing for the case tracking itself, and I'm barely using the features available.

The listing is very customizable and I've taken advantage of a few different configurations already, so I can definitely see myself finding more that are useful. There have been some things I haven't found the right fit for. Notably, areas and releases have been a little awkward. Many things cross over different areas of work, so I don't have a clear separation there. I kind of wish for tags, instead. As for releases, there simply are not good uses for those when a project is so internal. I can just make a release for when we decided it is done, but then the field is as useful as not existing at all. I tried to make pseudo-releases for different milestones of functionality, but I am not sure if that is a proper fit.

Time tracking, the very thing that drove me to try FogBugz, is possibly my favorite part. Seeing what you guess and what you actually take is revealing. I seem to guess over, usually, but I wonder if I'll see my task estimates actually getting better as I use this over a period of time. The feedback may train me. I've even found, so far, that the release estimations seem to be pretty well calculated and I've hit the dates its estimated pretty well. I want to write more about my thoughts on estimation and how well you can estimate what you can't design until you've done much of the things you need to estimate in the first place.

I really am loving it, but I know I need to wait out my trial before making any final call. I think it is well worth the cost over the free Trac and others, even for personal use.

1 comment:

Eric from Fog Creek said...

If you plan to use FogBugz for personal projects, I would recommend going to Settings->Your FogBugz On Demand Account and switching to the "Student and Startup Edition". In that mode, you can use our hosted version of FogBugz for free indefinitely so long as you have only one or two users in your install.

I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.

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