Quarter Life Crisis

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Buggy Bugs

331 words

Bad things just got worse. I wasn't entirely convinced of Apple's bug reporting mechanism so far due to their mediocre communication skills that seem to make it impossible for them to attach clear status reports to all but the most severe and obvious bugs. Even tiny bits of information à la 'yep, there's a problem there' or 'may be a problem but we don't care' would be helpful.

Instead, Apple's preferred route seems to piss me off. Their latest offering was related to a combined bug report I filed for address entry in X.3's Mail application. I sent a bug report with four points along the lines of what I detailed here. Three of those points are related as they are all exhibited consecutively when hitting Tab and Shift-Tab in Mail's address fields. The fourth just lists the fact that Mail won't accept nicknames when entering addresses – a point that I considered unworthy of reporting because Apple should be embarrassed they let this obvious one slip in the first place.

In fact, the first three points are easily one bug report. The fact I split it up was extra service, time and brain cycles by me. But what are Apple doing? Well, they mark the bug 'Closed/Insufficient information', tell me that they appreciate my time and effort and ask me to split up the report in several single ones, thereby ridiculing their previous assertion.

An e-mail asking to submit separate reports in the future (which may be more inconvenient for me as I'd have to re-write the whole setup/reproduction thing) would be acceptable as would be sending an e-mail telling me that they don't appreciate my efforts and asking me to stop wasting my time. But that's not what they do.

All I can say is that it's their buggy operating system and applications, not mine. I am happy to help as long as this is connected to a reasonable effort and I don't feel like I'm being sneered at.

November 13, 2003, 23:00

Comments

Comment by Buzz Andersen: User icon

I’m fairly sure you are wrong to think people are sneering at you. A lot of your experience here simply has to do with the way Apple’s bug tracking works. Though you may think of your bugs as being related, they are really separate issues with separate fixes and should be assigned and tracked separately. Also, while the “closed: insufficient information” status may seem like an inconsistent slap to you, it is really just a reflection of the fact that there is no “closed: developer should separate into different bugs” status in the system.

FWIW, I don’t usually get any more of a friendly reaction for bugs I file internally :-)!

November 15, 2003, 10:29

Comment by ssp: User icon

I agree that there may be no intentional sneering going on but receiving emails with a text snippets saying that someone values your time and the next one blatantly contradicting that makes me think they’re either dumb or taking the piss. For the benefit of Apple, I hope it’s the latter ;)

Filing separate bugs in this case would have meant a whole lot of extra work for me. Not only because I would have had to go through the web form that doesn’t remember my computer configuration a couple of extra times but also because I would have had to add explanations how these bugs really happen when using an application.

In this case, one bug is that Mail doesn’t deal properly with people hitting Shift-Tab in an address field. I guess that wouldn’t be too grave, if it weren’t for the problem that Mail’s autocompletion of addresses sucks and you frequently need to return to the ‘To’ field after having tabbed to the ‘Cc’ field because it didn’t autocomplete.

In this case I would have had to include all this information in every one of the single bug reports. That’s asking pretty much from your paying customers, particularly when Apple (should) have tools to more efficiently deal with all the cross-referencing in their own database.

As discussed in David Hyatts comments, bug reporting is harder in a closed source, closed bug-database, no current builds situation. The approach Apple seem to take for this is that all the increased effort is on me and all the benefit is for them. Needless to say, that I am not too thrilled about this balance.

November 15, 2003, 13:23

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