Bug testing roadshow hits Inkscape

This is a guest article written by Buovjaga (from the LibreOffice quality assurance team).  He's visiting the bug trackers of several FOSS projects, and encouraging project users to participate in bug management. His first article was done for Kate editor.

There are a lot of skilled open source software users wanting to see the development of their favorite application go faster. They might not realize that a lack of programming abilities is not an obstacle to helping get bugs fixed.

When a developer decides to read a bug report, the last thing they want to find is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. The job of quality assurance (QA) is to not only make sure that bugs are discovered, but that the reports are valid, understandable and include useful analytical data. Considering how easy most of this work is, there is an alarmingly low number of contributors involved in most FOSS projects and Inkscape is no exception. While going through Inkscape bug reports in Launchpad, I saw there were a couple of very active and dedicated users doing QA for several years straight. This work should be spread among a much larger team in order to be sustainable.

During the course of a month, I touched 400 Inkscape bug reports. At the same time I was renovating a new apartment, working a day job and doing my normal LibreOffice bug-wrangling. You are probably thinking that I will next tell a moving story about burnout and recovery. Thankfully, keeping track of bugs is a lot less stressful than fixing them! It is actually quite pleasant to be looking forward to a program crash instead of dreading it. I hope this drives home the point that the QA team in a project should be larger than the development team.

Developers were delighted to see me attack the bug tracker. Mc in the Inkscape developer chat on #inkscape-devel asked me to curate a list of dozen bugs that are easy to reproduce and affect a lot of users. This is the sort of cross-team collaboration that can be very fruitful.

If you are using Inkscape for fun or profit, read the article on bug management, start testing bugs and join #inkscape-devel @Freenode IRC. I guarantee your understanding of Inkscape will become more profound and you will discover new and useful features.