Debugging is Hard. We Make It Simple.

February 10, 2022

One of your users is going through your application – maybe they’re trying to order a Christmas present for their grandchild or buy a ticket to go to their college roommate’s wedding – and they run into a bug that prevents them from doing what they wanted to do. Now there’s no stuffed animal, plane ticket, or whatever else your customer needs from you until the bug is fixed. Suppose the user is one of the less than 4% of users who report a bug. What do they need to do to make sure that someone can understand and fix their problem?

Unless they have the right experience and knowledge, they likely would not know what information a developer needs to understand what caused your bug, and they may not recall all the details of what they did leading into the bug. They’re now caught trying to do a tedious job that they probably don’t have the background for. Even your own team members who report bugs may have different areas of expertise that don’t equip them to write bug reports that help developers fix problems as quickly as possible. We need to do debugging better.

The troubles with bug reporting

Relying on users to write bug reports isn’t fair to them and isn’t fair to the developers who need to solve the problems users experience. Users shouldn’t be responsible for helping solve your website’s problems. But you need to hear about what problems they encounter. Users are much more likely to leave your application than report a bug – 88% of people who encounter bugs will leave and don’t report them. Time you spend figuring out what bugs exist on your application is time bugs spend sending users away from you.

Even in the best case scenario where a bug is reported immediately, the process of figuring out what has happened can be very slow as developers must interpret bug reports and find out how to replicate bugs so that they know what leads to them and how to fix them. Users should get their problems fixed sooner than this archaic bug reporting and fixing process is able to facilitate.

Bug reporting is its own skill

Writing a bug report is its own skill. To provide a valuable account of the bug that helps those trying to fix it, you need to accurately recount the exact steps you took in a way that allows someone with a more intimate knowledge of how the app works to infer what went wrong. Did you hover over a button before clicking “Next”? Did you type in this field, try to delete what you typed, then type in that field? You have to give a fine grained enough account that a developer gets the information they need without wasting your time and theirs on unnecessary information. 

Bug reporting is a lot of extra work

How do we make sure our bug report gives developers the information they need? We can draw on the advice of others and follow guides to get an idea of what kinds of details you should include and roughly how specific you should be. But even the best guides can’t tell you exactly what you need to tell a dev to maximize their ability to solve your problem quickly. They won’t, for instance, tell you that having logged in then logged out before grabbing a coffee and returning to the application is a crucial detail. So you need to give them as much information as you can, as clearly and briefly as you can. This is so much extra work to get just the bare minimum to allow a dev to understand what went wrong.

Even the best efforts at reporting a bug might fail

To be a master at reporting bugs, you need to deeply understand how an app works, know what could cause issues at the level of a dev, recall exactly what you did to cause the bug, and be able to communicate this clearly, thoroughly, and succinctly. Traditional bug reporting asks users to feign expertise in an impossible collection of fields in order to maximize the chance that the developer gets the information they need to fix a bug – and even then, a good bug report could miss a crucial forgotten detail.

Never write another bug report

PlayerZero makes reporting bugs simple.

PlayerZero eliminates written bug reports. It minimizes what you need to input to submit a bug report while maximizing the information that bug reports record. A user can input just a sentence or phrase describing what they were trying to do while a developer receives a full replayable account of what a user did to cause a bug. Developers can run, pause, and rewind the user’s actions in the dev’s own local environment so they can see exactly what caused the bug. You can see it yourself.

PlayerZero lets anyone give devs more than bug reports ever could.

With PlayerZero, anyone can write the best possible bug report because anyone can send a replayable simulation of the actions that they took when navigating the app. This is in an entirely different universe of ease and precision than interpreting a written bug report. It also is far more powerful.

PlayerZero takes over the bug reporting process so that developers get exactly what they need to fix bugs quickly and easily while making reporting bugs easier. You can check it out yourself to see it in action.


Written by:
Tim Schmitz
Additional Articles

Debugging is Hard. We Make It Simple.

February 10, 2022

One of your users is going through your application – maybe they’re trying to order a Christmas present for their grandchild or buy a ticket to go to their college roommate’s wedding – and they run into a bug that prevents them from doing what they wanted to do. Now there’s no stuffed animal, plane ticket, or whatever else your customer needs from you until the bug is fixed. Suppose the user is one of the less than 4% of users who report a bug. What do they need to do to make sure that someone can understand and fix their problem?

Unless they have the right experience and knowledge, they likely would not know what information a developer needs to understand what caused your bug, and they may not recall all the details of what they did leading into the bug. They’re now caught trying to do a tedious job that they probably don’t have the background for. Even your own team members who report bugs may have different areas of expertise that don’t equip them to write bug reports that help developers fix problems as quickly as possible. We need to do debugging better.

The troubles with bug reporting

Relying on users to write bug reports isn’t fair to them and isn’t fair to the developers who need to solve the problems users experience. Users shouldn’t be responsible for helping solve your website’s problems. But you need to hear about what problems they encounter. Users are much more likely to leave your application than report a bug – 88% of people who encounter bugs will leave and don’t report them. Time you spend figuring out what bugs exist on your application is time bugs spend sending users away from you.

Even in the best case scenario where a bug is reported immediately, the process of figuring out what has happened can be very slow as developers must interpret bug reports and find out how to replicate bugs so that they know what leads to them and how to fix them. Users should get their problems fixed sooner than this archaic bug reporting and fixing process is able to facilitate.

Bug reporting is its own skill

Writing a bug report is its own skill. To provide a valuable account of the bug that helps those trying to fix it, you need to accurately recount the exact steps you took in a way that allows someone with a more intimate knowledge of how the app works to infer what went wrong. Did you hover over a button before clicking “Next”? Did you type in this field, try to delete what you typed, then type in that field? You have to give a fine grained enough account that a developer gets the information they need without wasting your time and theirs on unnecessary information. 

Bug reporting is a lot of extra work

How do we make sure our bug report gives developers the information they need? We can draw on the advice of others and follow guides to get an idea of what kinds of details you should include and roughly how specific you should be. But even the best guides can’t tell you exactly what you need to tell a dev to maximize their ability to solve your problem quickly. They won’t, for instance, tell you that having logged in then logged out before grabbing a coffee and returning to the application is a crucial detail. So you need to give them as much information as you can, as clearly and briefly as you can. This is so much extra work to get just the bare minimum to allow a dev to understand what went wrong.

Even the best efforts at reporting a bug might fail

To be a master at reporting bugs, you need to deeply understand how an app works, know what could cause issues at the level of a dev, recall exactly what you did to cause the bug, and be able to communicate this clearly, thoroughly, and succinctly. Traditional bug reporting asks users to feign expertise in an impossible collection of fields in order to maximize the chance that the developer gets the information they need to fix a bug – and even then, a good bug report could miss a crucial forgotten detail.

Never write another bug report

PlayerZero makes reporting bugs simple.

PlayerZero eliminates written bug reports. It minimizes what you need to input to submit a bug report while maximizing the information that bug reports record. A user can input just a sentence or phrase describing what they were trying to do while a developer receives a full replayable account of what a user did to cause a bug. Developers can run, pause, and rewind the user’s actions in the dev’s own local environment so they can see exactly what caused the bug. You can see it yourself.

PlayerZero lets anyone give devs more than bug reports ever could.

With PlayerZero, anyone can write the best possible bug report because anyone can send a replayable simulation of the actions that they took when navigating the app. This is in an entirely different universe of ease and precision than interpreting a written bug report. It also is far more powerful.

PlayerZero takes over the bug reporting process so that developers get exactly what they need to fix bugs quickly and easily while making reporting bugs easier. You can check it out yourself to see it in action.


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