—Alan Cooper, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum
Every development team needs a formal system for tracking bugs and reminding the team what's left to do. Maybe your system is as simple as a bunch of Post-it Notes stuck on the side of your monitor, or maybe you use a professional-strength defect tracking program. But any successful project must have some system where all the known bugs are stored in a single place. If you try to keep everything in your head, bugs will slip through the cracks. You'll discover five bugs, and you'll spend so much time fixing four of them that you'll completely forget about the fifth. Then your product ships with a bug that could have been avoided.
Very small teams might still be able to succeed with ad-hoc systems like the Post-it Note method, but I wouldn't recommend it. Spend some money to buy or build a professional defect tracking program. You don't have to spend huge amounts of money. Defect tracking programs are such that the difference between a good one and a bad one is negligible compared to the difference between a bad one and nothing at all. If you have to get your tracking program from the lowest bidder, then so be it; but make sure you get something.
In this chapter, we'll go over the reasons why defect tracking software is so essential for keeping projects on course, and we'll examine what sorts of data should be added to your system. If you're already familiar with defect tracking, then this section may already be familiar to you. Then we'll discuss some of the advanced tricks a project leader can do with a good tracking program. Much of this chapter is focused on using a defect tracking system to make sure bugs get fixed, rather than on actually fixing the bug. But since this is a book about debugging, we'll also look at some debugging techniques for using a defect tracking system to debug your programs faster, as well.
Since no defect tracking program ships with Visual Studio.NET, I debated whether to pick some popular tracking program and talk about it or whether to merely talk about tracking programs in general. I decided to go with the later approach, but it shouldn't matter—most defect tracking programs are very similar, anyway.