Handling bug reports?

Introduction

Welcome to the HOWTO on managing PHP bugs via bugs.php.net. PHP is a large project with many bugs being submitted daily. Bug topics range from the PHP website itself, various PHP extensions, PEAR, etc. This document is for all PHP developers using the bug system. Because there are so many members using the system it's important we act in a consistent manner. This HOWTO is created to solve this.

If you're going to edit a bug be sure that you know the topic. Don't make assumptions. If you've read the bug carefully and think of a solution or related questions, post your answer/comments. If you know of the solution, solve and close the bug.

Acting on a bug

Never change a status if you're not sure. If you close a bug because you think it's not really a bug and in fact it is, this makes the bug system useless and doesn't benefit anyone. Never close a bug because it's too old, unless your name is Jani. If a bug is in "feedback" status it will close automatically if the bug reporter doesn't answer after two weeks.

If you want to view a bug report, enter the bug id into the url like so (with 20406 being an example):

Which redirects to:

At that point you'll see a set of options. Because you're a developer you will choose the developer option which will then put you here:

Automatic answers (quickfix)

There are a set of quickfix options each of which will both insert text into the bug report and change the bug status. Please understand what text and status will be used and only choose a quickfix option if an appropriate quickfix exists. Choosing a quickfix that's not 100% correct will confuse and sometimes irritate the reporter. The following table lists them (see also quick-fix-desc.php):

Manual answers

If no quickfix is available you will manually choose the new status and write some feedback. Select the best status that corresponds to the bug. Here are descriptions for each status:

Open
The bug still exists and you want to comment on it.
Closed
It has been fixed. If you choose this please make sure it's also been documented. Also, explain why it's closed.
Duplicate
This status is deprecated and can no longer be selected during modifications of bugs. Always use "Not a Bug" instead now. The originial use was: If this almost the same bug, both bugs are found 'duplicate' later on and have both useful information. Also mention what bug it's a duplicate of with a full url to the report this is duplicate of.
Critical
Only bugs that affect most/all users and/or are in the engine or ext/standard. Only Verified and reproduced bugs in the latest Git revision can be marked critical.
Assigned
If a specific person, such as yourself, will take of this bug then assign it. If you know someone else is or will take care of it then assign it to them but be sure to ask them first.
Analyzed
If you've analyzed why this bug is here and know why the bug exists, you have just analyzed it. Also, add a comment. If you are unsure why it exists then use 'verified' instead.
Verified
If you're able to reproduce this bug with the information given. Be sure to test with the latest CVS. Typically you aren't sure why it exists you just know it does and have confirmed it.
Suspended
Usually used when there might be a fix in future and/or it relies on something external to be fixed first.
Wont fix
When something is not considered a bug or the bug is not fixable.
No feedback
If no answer have been given by the reporter after we've asked them something. Sometimes you will ask for an example script or ask the reporter to test using CVS or the latest snap.
Feedback
You're asking the reporter for more information such as please use Git revision/snap, and/or the smallest possible test script to reproduce the error, and/or a value for a certain PHP directive.
Not a Bug (old: Bogus)
This bug is not a bug, support related or just an assumed bug or the bug already exists in the database. Be 100% it's really "bogus" and also be sure it's not a documentation bug.

Reclassification

Sometimes you'll also want to reclassify a bug. For example, a reporter marks a bug as Apache2 related when really it's a MySQL bug. Just change the category but be 100% sure it's related to the new category. Another example would be changing the type to a documentation bug. If you're changing it to a documentation bug it will help the documentation team if you add specific information that is to be documented including what version the changes will take place.

Also note that all bugs are sent to various mailing lists with php-bugs@lists.php.net being the default (most go here). Here's a list:

Default
php-bugs@lists.php.net
Documentation
phpdoc@lists.php.net
PEAR
pear-dev@lists.php.net
PHP.net Website
php-mirrors@lists.php.net

Reclassifying will immediatly change which mailing list is used. If you reclassify a bug and don't leave a comment then no email is sent to the mailing list. So, be sure to leave a comment.

Tips and links

  • The Jani Javascript bug popup window (right click to bookmark): here
  • Look at the raw bug stats.
  • Not leaving a comment means no email will be sent to the mailing list. (all quickfix options leave comments)
  • If a version involves Git or a snapshot be sure to label it in the form: 5.x.y-dev An example is: 5.6.0-dev.
  • If you have a question either email the internals@lists.php.net mailing list or check out the #php.pecl channel in IRC on EFNET.

Conclusion

If everyone maintains the bug system in a consistent manner then PHP will be better for it. Also, bug reporters will not get their feelings hurt through miscommunication (e.g. a wrong quickfix or bogus status) Thank you for reading this HOWTO and helping make PHP better.