Andy McKay

May 11, 2015

Moving to GitHub issues


Mozilla wasn't my first time using Bugzilla. About ten years earlier I worked at ActiveState and spent hours hacking away at Bugzilla with a certain David Ascher to produce an issue tracker for the company.

That was forever ago, when I was a junior who knew nothing and found Bugzilla a bit of a mess. But that was ages ago, software improves and life moves on.

We've used Bugzilla every day at Mozilla for Add-ons and the Marketplace. Actually came to like Bugzilla, sort of. But recently we had an opportunity to move onto a new project - and we decided to move issues to GitHub.

Again I'm going to blame David Ascher who one day asked me "Have you tried putting your issues on GitHub?". I gave a list of reasons why not. Then later on I realised they were mostly bogus and the only real reason had become "Because that's what we've always done."

The biggest reason I could think of is that GitHub is repository based. As an example... suppose there's a bug in Payments, where do I file an issue? The payments-server, the payments-ui, the payments-example repository? It's not project based. So we created a payments repository that's a catch all for issues and documentation. Problem solved.

By moving to GitHub issues we've gained:

  • faster performance
  • better integration with our code and pull requests
  • ability to link-in other tools (e.g. http://waffle.io)
  • lose a whole pile of features, settings and flags we never use
  • lose getting told off for features that cross products, e.g. the time people removed [perf] off our bugs because that reserved for something in Firefox

So far the things we've lost are:

  • ability to file security or Mozilla confidential bugs, but for that we just use Bugzilla

But so far everything is great.

My favourite thing is using waffle.io which provides us with a Kanban flow across multiple repos and is pretty awesome.

I tried to use a similar tool with Bugzilla that an intern wrote. But surprise, the tool wasn't maintained, didn't always worked and I ended up maintaining it. I didn't want to do that, I just want good tools that other people maintain so I can ship my project.

Oh the last downside? When GitHub goes down:

If you are still reading this blog post, I strongly encourage you not to think about ditching Bugzilla, but to think about your entire tool chain set and find new tools and improvements when you can. Oh, and read Gregory Szorc's blog.