Before my Excel spreadsheet bursts at the hinges, I’d like to start using an online system to keep track of bugs and feature requests. I’ve been doing some research and got helpful advice from Tim Appnel. So far, I’m interested in FogBUGZ, Bugzilla and JIRA, though there are of course plenty other possibilities. I want something cheap, easy to setup and manage, with a great UI and simple workflow. We’ll have about 5-10 named users, and I don’t expect more than a couple hundreds entries within the next few months (but I’m just guestimating here).
Fogbugz looks very attractive for its features and overall philosophy. However, it runs on top of NT Server, which we currently don’t have, and doesn’t have practical hosted options that I’m aware of (Fog Creek themselves require $500 a month to get started, and there’s no third-party hosted service). If I add backups, MS SQL, and security patches on top of Interland’s most basic dedicated hosting, I’ll probably have to pay $300 a month. Either way, much more than I want to pay considering our needs. FogBUGZ 3.0 costs $99 per user and support is affordable.
Bugzilla is less elegant, said to be non trivial to install, but it’s free and it does the job. I’d probably start with it in a heartbeat if I wasn’t concerned about the ability to move to something better when we can afford it. Bugzilla can output buglists as HTML (the default), CSV or RDF, but FogBUGZ has no importing tool. We’d have to create our own import script or DTS package (if we chose MS SQL rather than MySQL). If someone already did the move from Bugzilla to FogBUGZ, that would be great if they could document the process.
JIRA, like FogBUGZ, is feature-rich, but its J2EE requirement scares me. If I put Tomcat on top of our production server (which will move from shared to dedicated hosting soon) I’m concerned about overall performance, while a dedicated Linux or FreeBSD server will set me back $200 or more a month. I’m not sure anybody offers J2EE shared hosting out there, and then they’d probably not let us install JIRA. A company offers integration with MS Project, and should do the same with CVS as well (version control is another toolset I need, though it’s currently not supported by MT — you can also integrate CVS with FogBUGZ and Bugzilla). JIRA Pro costs $1,000, then $500 a year for support. (Another J2EE-based product is Bugzero, but their site is less than impressive.)
A quick Google query fetched hosted solutions such as TrackStudio Host, ProblemTracker, BugMonitor, or Elementool. I haven’t really looked at their feature set and interface, but I suspect it’s not going to match the products I mentioned previously. What I’d really like is FogBUGZ offered on a per-user ASP basis, and I’m not alone in that case.
I’m probably getting carried away by wishful thinking, and it looks like something has to give in. Advice and real-life feedback are welcome. I don’t want to start a trial until the last minute, because I know how the B2B software sales cycle works, thanks. Once you’ve spent time setting up a trial with your data and users, you’re basically prisoner of the time you already spent in the tool. Maybe I’ll have to start from something simpler with a smaller footprint such as Mantis (yuck, 0.18 beta), and see what happens.
12/30/04 update: I’ve finally picked and used Mantis, not a bad product. 2004 has seen the birth of Trac, an issue database merged with a wiki that I hear good things about.