At PlayerZero, we like to think of debugging as a mix of art and science. It might seem counterintuitive at the surface, but efficiently finding and fixing issues in any web application requires more than just a mastery of the 1’s and 0’s; it extends to the ability for your team and customers to communicate with confidence. You could simply rely on monitoring tools like Sentry and Logrocket to spit out endless errors and stack-traces, but even teams that use these tools also utilize a secondary platform to communicate about their insights. It really seemed obvious that this issue-centric conversation could be better positioned within the tool that you’re already using for technical context...
Much of our product (reproduction steps, metadata, DevTools), can be found in industry comps in some way shape or form, though we are confident our execution is much more efficient for all parties involved. But the real nugget is giving each stakeholder an authentic voice in the process of finding, validating and fixing these issues, and ensuring that their thoughts live on in perpetuity.
Amplifying your team’s voice
“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly.” - Mark Sanborn
PlayerZero is a company that is reshaping how teams solve issues, so it was imperative that we found a way to empower participants in the triaging process to find their voice. As humans, we are accustomed to feel a sense of ownership over information that we are passing along and belief that they are being heard, especially under the correct context.
In every thoughtful conversation, there is a central system of record where ideas can be shared and live on as institutional knowledge. It’s a tail as old as time:
- Google docs folders
- Loom videos
- Slack channels
- Cave walls
- Medieval stone scripts
This is even more relevant with the debugging process, where you have to creatively find a way to blend the human with the machine.
Having the record of communication live with the technical context is crucial; creating a stream of institutional knowledge and input that will pay dividends now and in the future. Like before mentioned, debugging is a mix of art and science.
Introducing the Activity Feed
The Activity Feed is a place for team members to have a lasting voice in the bug smashing process. In this feed, anyone (support, engineering, QA and in a limited capacity users) have the ability to participate in the debugging process by posting comments, adding videos or linking specific steps. Now, everyone can have the confidence to communicate their feelings or insights in the most appropriate way possible.
So what does this mean concretely for those involved in the entire debugging process?
- For users, it brings their voice directly to the forefront of support and engineering interactions.
- For support, they can actively participate in the validating and reproduction process.
- For engineers, they can build actionable empathy for all others affected by the issue, and can rely on the input of others to better inform their assumptions: Where are the areas of suspicion? What has been tried? What worked and what didn’t?
The mediums by which we are giving everyone a voice
A closer look at the specific features in the Activity Feed.
- @name: Tag your teammates with a simple @ and you can notify and subscribe them to the issue
- #[step number]: By adding a hashtag and step number, you can create a quick link to that action in the steps to reproduce.
- User generated description: By default, if the user added a description of the issue during upload, their voice will live in the Activity Feed! (as well as the title)
- In-report submission: If a team member wants to provide additional visual context to an issue, they can add a video directly in the report for any involved party to see!
- User generated video: By default, if the user added a video to help paint a better picture of the issue during upload, we will drop this in the Activity Feed.
When a session is uploaded, the DevTools snapshot is embedded in the feed. This creates an easy shortcut to the context that someone on your team has deemed important!
As Tony Robbins famously preaches, “to effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world”. This is a great way to frame the way we must approach solving issues. Debugging is a team effort that spans across functionality and incentives, so we all must find a centralized way to express our perspective in a way for others to build upon from their own unique angle.
The PlayerZero Activity Feed feature is the hub for product organizations to cultivate fruitful conversation and insights.