It's no big secret that I'm not a fan of Bugzilla. It does the job, it's well known and understood, but .. yeah .. it could be better, shall we say.
One thing I really don't like using Bugzilla for is feature requests. It's just fine for defect reporting, but as a feature request system it leaves a lot to be desired. Uploading screenshots, having discussions, tracking status and much more that is pretty important to the feature request dance is really not well supported by Bugzilla's workflow in my opinion.
The OpenSuse guys, in particular Andre Duffeck and Klaas Freitag, contacted me a little while back about Fate and asked if it might be a good solution for KDE as well. You can read more about their vision for a KDE Fate on their wiki. They even set up a nice little VM image so that I could take Fate and the KDE4 client for a test drive.
Now, all things have strengths and challenges. I think there are benefits to Fate, but also things to consider before recommending it as a successor to Bugzilla for feature tracking. Below is a short list of them with regards to using Fate that I can see.
- It's actually designed for feature request workflow. Sort of like Brainstorm, but with more structure. It's actually very "Suse" in that way. =)
- It has a rather comprehensive KDE4 fat client so KDE developers aren't stuck with a web browser.
- The Suse team would set it up and manage it with/for us.
- It seems more suited to enabling upstream/downstream coordination, at least on features.
- Fate could improve our communication and remove some overhead. For instance, in the area of feature plans: instead of managing them by hand on a wiki, we could simply approve features in Fate and then Fate could generate reports for us automatically. This would likely be easier for users to track and would certainly be less work for developers to maintain. Essentially, the feature plan would become a by-product of managing feature requests. This can't be the only such opportunity, either.
- We have a ton of feature requests on bugs.kde.org. I have no idea how we'd deal with a transition.
- It is Yet Another Website that our users would have to know about and get used to. We could put a link from our Bugzilla to the Fate instance, however.
- It is Yet Another Website that our developers would have to know about and get used to.
- The fat client is usable, but certainly not refined or 100% feature complete. It's new software though, so that isn't a surprise at all.
I'd like this to be launching point for discussion within the community on this topic. I wrote about it in my blog because this is the kind of thing that needs input and support for from users, our community coordinators and the development teams and this seemed like the least audience specific place to put it. =)