Monday, December 5, 2016

Please don't use pastebins in bugs

pastebins are useful for dumping large data sets whenever the medium of conversation doesn't make this easy or useful. IRC is one example, or audio/video conferencing. But pastebins only work when the other side looks at the pastebin before it expires, and the default expiry date for a pastebin may only be a few days.

This makes them effectively useless for bugs where it may take a while for the bug to be triaged and the assignee to respond. It may take even longer to figure out the source of the bug, and if there's a regression it can take months to figure it out. Once the content disappears we have to re-request the data from the reporter. And there is a vicious dependency too: usually, logs are more important for difficult bugs. Difficult bugs take longer to fix. Thus, with pastebins, the more difficult the bug, the more likely the logs become unavailable.

All useful bug tracking systems have an attachment facility. Use that instead, it's archived with the bug and if a year later we notice a regression, we still have access to the data.

If you got here because I pasted the link to this blog post, please do the following: download the pastebin content as raw text, then add it as attachment to the bug (don't paste it as comment). Once that's done, we can have a look at your bug again.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Why not use a JavaScript alert which scans the < textarea > for content like "pastebin.com", etc... that sends an alert or shows a warning box requesting the user attach their log instead of link it?

Also, attachment size can be a big problem on bugzillas, sometimes I want to attach a 10-50mb .webp showing a bug but I have to jump through hoops and post it to youtube just to store it somewhere to get bug resolution.

Or there have been times on various bugzillas where filetypes or filesize limits have been reached, eg: 10MB images are common to me after I edit a image and add text, arrows or hilights to show where the issue is specifically.

So that's what I would do:
1 ) JavaScript checking and appending a notice box in red or alert popup box requesting attachment
2 ) Check filesize limit to make sure it's at least a very modest size so people won't have to offload to other sites
3 ) Check the whitelist of extensions and blacklist. I shouldn't have to ever zip a PNG or anything else to bypass such a blacklist.