Working with Mantis has been sweet. It was a project manager’s delight – full-blown features and a powerful back-end.
However, if you are concerned with usability, it can be a nightmare. Getting Mantis to display the barebones essentials required too much editing. Mantis, after all, doesn’t (yet) have a templating system to make it easier to customize & remove fields.
Task type (bug, feature, task) wasn’t also built-in – custom fields have to be used (which will prove later on to be a templating horror), or maybe recycle the not-so-often used Severity field.
Most agonizing is in customizing the “look” of Mantis. It is bursting in the seams with its sheer number of tables …. probably to make up for its pitiful number of CSS classes?
Flyspray came to the rescue. Well, sort of. All the pertinent fields are in plain view – due date, target version, percent completed, and yes, task type.
It is also highly customizable – numerous classes & ids are meticulously included to make the CSS fanatic in you real proud. In a short amount of time, I was able to transform Flyspray’s horrendous default template to something utterly glorious.
Upon entering more data, however, Flyspray’s weakness started to kick in:
The actual editing of global & project permissions leaves much to be desired. It took a lot of hits & misses before we finally figured out the difference between the project & global permissions (even where & how to edit them, for that matter).
A function similar to Mantis’ My View or Trac’s My Tickets was conspicuously missing. This is a page where users can see all the issues assigned to them, regardless of project. In the forums, however, we were informed that this is not needed, as there is an advanced search feature which can be used to search for tasks assigned to them. Oh … oh okay.
Most painful is the lack of support for subprojects. I’m still wondering if the Flyspray team never realized that people with more than 20 projects will want to use their product. Unfortunately, I am one of those people, and I have to play with prefixes just to get those damn projects ordered right. And did I mention that the project switch drop down is now extending near the end of my browser window? Really.
Meenie, minie …
If you are part of a small team (maybe 5 people) and handling a couple or so projects … yes, Flyspray would probably perfect for you. However, they are not for developers of medium sized to large teams, those handling more than 5 projects, and for Project or QA Managers who use bug trackers intensively for issue, assignment, and project tracking.
Don’t expect much in the future developments either. Based on their roadmap and posts in the forums, their primary customers are the self-managed developers.
And we are left with no choice but to pray to the highest heavens that someday, somehow, the developers of these bug tracking systems will finally listen to the users who actually use it the most.