Distributed bug tracking

Rather than bothering with setting up and maintaining external tools, I usually prefer to simply have a TODO file in my repository where I collect issues and ideas. However, I’m starting to want more of an ability to maybe attach certain metadata, categorize issues etc.

There is ciss-tracker, which is basically a command line interface on top of a plaintext file like I’m already using, and I’m currently playing around with it.

Then there are these “distributed bug trackers”, an idea I find quite interesting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have a lot of traction. Most tools aren’t actively developed.

Most trackers store their issue database in the repository itself, in a hidden directory or file. Some git-specific tools use a separate branch. I much prefer the latter approach. I think if you were to add native support for bug tracking to a DVCS, you’d want to use a separate storage area. git’s branches allow you to simulate this somewhat.


  • I’m not cluttering my source’s history with the bug data. The two seem like distinct things. You can get a log for only the bug changes.
  • Merging the bugs would be separate from merging the source tree, making it easier to implement a custom merge code specifically for the bug tracking part. Different from source code, conflicts could be resolved by a command line tool asking the right questions.
  • You also have only a single bug database for the repository – something like github could easily base their web bug tracker UI on the repository storage. And you could still have the ability to link bugs to individual branches.

So far, I’ve only found git-issues and ticgit. Both don’t seem to be worked on though, and I did have my problems with them.

Update: There’s also Simple Defects, which has a unique approach: Instead of trying to build on a DVCS, it’s a completely self-contained system, though there is at least some basic git-integration.

Interesting posts on the subject:

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