Where is ReportBugs when we need ’em?

I had a bizarre experience at JavaOne yesterday. And I have witnesses. Lots of witnesses. We were approached at the Eclipse booth by a gentleman sporting a “FindBugs” t-shirt. Our conversation went something like this:

The guy: Is there somebody here who works on the Eclipse project?

Me: There are three of us here that work on some different Eclipse projects. What’s up?

The guy: I found a bug. It’s a significant one. In the code, you attempt to compare two things and if they turn out not to be equal, you delete an important directory. The problem is that you attempt to compare a File to a string; these things will never be equal.

Me: That sounds like a bug to me. Did you report it?

The guy: No.

Me: How long ago did you find it?

The guy: Thursday.

Me: You’ve been sitting on a bug for almost a week and haven’t reported it?

The guy: it’s not my job to report your bugs.

Me: So, you just find bugs then. You don’t report them.

The guy: You’re stupid! [he rants incoherently for about 30 seconds and storms off, red-faced]

Me (to Lynn): What just happened?

As far as I (and everybody else in the four-booth vicinity) was concerned, we were having a rather nice, if not jovial, conversation right up until the point when I was branded as stupid in a fit of what I can only describe as Nerd Rage. FWIW, I’m pretty sure that I’m not stupid.

I do, however, think that this gentleman has missed an excellent opportunity to show just how great the project he apparently cares about is at finding bugs. I’m imaging a bug report that provides pointers into very specific parts of the code detailing the problem with sufficient detail that we can’t help but fix it. Moreover, I’m imaging that this bug makes reference to the excellent software that was used to find the bug and the engineer who worked his magic to find it. Of course, this is based on an assumption that, when you work on an open source project, you actually care about the project and want others to know how great it is. What a better way to get people excited by your project than to provide value to a community by using it for its intended purpose?

Alas, apparently finding bugs is enough. If only somebody would create a ReportBugs project at SourceForge…

Unfortunately, the gentleman stormed off in a huff before I could find out more about the bug. If anybody out there can identify the bug and provide sufficient detail to fix it, I’ll find something nice for you. Maybe a nice Eclipse golf shirt. Mmmmm, golf shirt…

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10 Responses to Where is ReportBugs when we need ’em?

  1. Impressive. So here is how to get a free golf shirt:
    1. Go to a major conf and find a stand where they have shirts
    2. Engage with one of them and tell them they have a bug
    3. Make an impression, a T-shirt related to bugs should do
    4. Storm away
    Now the tricky part:
    5. Wait for the guy to blog about it
    6. Send the bug details
    7. Wait for the shirt delivery!

    This is great. Can’t wait to try this with the Netbeans people (that is, if the guy hasn’t tried before).

  2. John Arthorne says:

    I think it might be this one:


    You can keep the golf shirt, I think I already have it 😉

  3. Andrei says:

    First : I’m not the gentleman with the FindBugs TShirt, but I can understand him.

    Second: I’ve requested a long time ago the build support for FindBugs just because you can’t report ALL existing bugs via bugzilla: it will not work. An average Eclipse project contains a dozen of plugins and FindBugs can report hunderts of REAL issues.

    The false positive rate of FindBugs is very low meanwile, but even looking only on “high prio” warnings I would spent ALL my time only to fill in the bugs in bugzilla.

    Unfortunately, it is hard to convince Eclipse commiters to use FindBugs by them own… Want a proof? Here is it: http://www.jroller.com/andyl/entry/time_to_fix_eclipse_bugs
    and https://bugs.eclipse.org/bugs/show_bug.cgi?id=247073

  4. Daniel says:

    Interesting, either this guy is really slow in finding a bug or Wayne has some kind of “Time booth”, because the bug report John mentions is from 16.07.2008 (fixed 14.08.2008) and Wayne says the guy appeared at his booth on 02.06.2009.

    Or it’s just another bug…

  5. Jacek Pospychala says:

    Uh sounds unfortunate…
    Do you think it’s that difficult to create a bug report? Would be nice to hear that guy comment, as it might be more valuable than the fix to actual bug he found…

  6. Wayne Beaton says:

    @Antoine why in the world would you want a NetBeans shirt? 🙂
    @John Thanks. Maybe I should send the shirt to Stefan.
    @Andrei Maybe you/he could just report a couple of them. If everybody just reports one of them, the burden is relatively low and the payback is relatively high.
    @Daniel I’m hopeful that we’re all talking about the same bug.
    @Jacek I’d love to your thoughts on how we can improve the bug workflow.

  7. Andrei says:

    Created a bug 279212 against Eclipse 3.5 RC3, see details here:

  8. Jacek Pospychala says:

    Wayne: for me it all looks simple, or at least not more difficult than i.e. NetBeans. “Report a bug” on main page, then straightforward wizard. Only one challenge is to login to bugzilla page.

  9. Michael says:

    Wayne, I’m really disappointed with this sentence of yours in the bug discussion: “We just don’t have a compelling enough reason to look at FindBugs.” If you don’t have that reason, then you don’t care about static code analysis at all. That’s easy to tell. If you would care about static analysis tools and had used some of them on real life code, you would certainly have felt the need to compare different tools yourselfes or you would have searched the web about the experience of other users of static code analysis tools for Java. In both cases your conclusions would have been that Findbugs is the most reliable of the currently available checkers for Java. So if you don’t know that, you have never used any such tool.

    Even worse is your attitude of “If there is no bug report, the bug doesn’t exist”. There was a time when Eclipse was known for innovation, not bureaucracy. In those times Eclipse committers would just happily explore the possibilities of FindBugs…

  10. Wayne Beaton says:

    @Michael I’m disappointed by your disappointment.

    The point of my discussion is not getting across clearly. I need to be more explicit.

    I am starting from an assumption that FindBugs is a great project that we should use. I can see from the Eclipse bugzilla record that some of our committers have made use of it. I was totally sincere when I used the word “fantastic” at the list of bugs provided by Andrei. But, after what looks like an initial push to use the tool, its use seems to have dropped off. I’d like to understand why.

    My assumption–and perhaps this was incorrect–is that the committers didn’t find it as compelling as perhaps they could have. Perhaps it has something to do with false positives. Perhaps there is some other issue. I don’t know. I do think it was a mistake for me to broadly speak on behalf of all Eclipse Committers. I should have phrased the sentence differently.

    The bugzilla records show that Eclipse committers *have* explored the possibilities of FindBugs (I can’t speak for how happily they did it). In my experience, Eclipse committers go out of their way to work with the community for mutual benefit.

    The Foundation does not as a matter of practice mandate the tools that our project teams should be using. Projects are welcome to use tools like FindBugs. I wonder if we might take this up with the Architecture Council to make it a recommendation for projects. I’ll add it to the agenda for the next call.

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