99designs Tech Blog

Adventures in web development

Bug Tracking With GitHub Survivor

by Stuart Campbell

At 99designs, we try to make sure we’re always fixing bugs as well as writing code. It can be easy to neglect bugs when you’re busy churning out new features.

We use GitHub issues to track bugs in our various applications. GitHub issues integrate well with our codebase, commits and pull requests, but the reporting facilities are a bit limited.

As our team grows, it’s become increasingly important for us to be able to answer key questions about bugs, including:

  • How many bugs are currently open?
  • Have we each remembered to spend time working on bug fixes this sprint?
  • Are we closing more bugs than we’re opening?

To help answer these questions, a few of our team spent a number of hack days implementing a bug dashboard named GitHub Survivor.

Unlike the similarly-named reality TV show, GitHub Survivor doesn’t feature eliminations, gruelling physical challenges, or Jeff Probst. However, it does pit developers against one another — in a light-hearted way.

We display GitHub Survivor on a big screen in the office, where all the team can see it. We’ve found it helps keep our minds on bugs — it reminds us to make a small effort every sprint, gradually bringing the bug count closer to zero.

A bug leaderboard occupies the bulk of the screen. It shows who’s closed the most bugs this sprint (may they be laden with Praise and Whisky!) and who’s forgotten to spend some time fixing bugs (may they toil in the maintenance of a thousand Malbolge programs!).

There are charts showing the number of bugs opened and closed in recent sprints, the open bug count over time, and a big indicator showing the current open bug count.

The source is available for you to inspect and adapt to your needs. Please try it out, make improvements and contribute them back! We hope you find it useful.

We’re passionate about building high-quality software at 99designs, and this is just one way we measure whether we’re doing a good job of that. If you’re similarly interested in building cool things in an awesome environment, check out our open positions!

Join the discussion at Hacker News and Reddit.