Screencasting in bug reports

Have you ever considered making a screencast when reporting a bug? I usually add screencasts to GUI-related bug reports but it may be quite a new and refreshing idea for some people. Therefore I hope this post will get your attention and maybe you will try to make your next bug report even easier to triage and fix than before.

So what’s this post all about? When reporting bugs, mainly concerning GUI, it may be really hard to describe the bug with words or even with a picture. On the contrary it may be really easy to show the bug in a video. The world has moved forward a lot in a few recent years and nowadays it is really easy to make a screencast and attach it to the bug report.

Bug

For example, you can have a look at several bugs I have reported and the screencasts I attached to them and consider how difficult it could be to describe it in words. If the developer doesn’t know exactly what is wrong, he can hardly help you.

Example bug reports:

Of course you should preferably run the desktop in English locale when recording it so the developer is not so confused with a foreign language. I should certainly improve that in the future 🙂

So what do you need to make a screencast? Nothing really special. Just install some desktop-recording application and you can go! Here is some list of them:

There is one thing to be aware of, many bugzillas limit the maximum size of the attachment. If that is your case, select only a single window or just a small rectangle on your screen needed to show the bug. You can also lower the recorded FPS (frames per second) and the video quality. As you have seen in the examples, it’s not a problem to record a screencast lasting tens of seconds while having the file size under 1MB.

Happy screencasting and bug reporting!

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Screencasting in bug reports

4 thoughts on “Screencasting in bug reports

  1. JAB says:

    But will maintainers appreciate having to spend minutes (and megabits) watching videos to understand the bug? Make sure you keep the bug text as a good explanation too …

    1. kparal says:

      Of course the description should be good too. But as an additional explanation the screencast may be in many cases perfect. By watching it the developers can even understand some bugs quicker than by reading long and complicated “steps to reproduce”. Of course do not neglect text explanation, but consider adding a screencast when it is simply more helpful than without it 🙂

  2. Ben Asselstine says:

    I’d like to see a screen capture tool that could show which mouse button was clicked, and also what keystrokes were given.

    1. kparal says:

      Yes, I would appreciate that too. I haven’t looked into that area yet though. If anyone finds anything useful, please let us know.

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