One of the basic requirements for writing quality software is to use a bug tracking system. For the past years I used several such tools, but recently I came across a fairly new one.
Bontq is an online bug and issue tracking system
. It provides the easiest way to manage projects, track bugs, add tasks and even store all your documentation.
This was the official description provided by the company who developed it. Let's see if the reality can match the marketing story.
The first thing you have to know is that Bontq is a self-hosted solution. Choosing between a hosted solution and a self managed one is just a matter of taste. I personally prefer the hosted one because I don't have to deal with server maintenance and so on.
Once you log in into the system you will be pleasantly surprised by a very slick and easy to use web interface. It uses a tabbed style to give you quick access to the most important features of the system. The default tab selected after login is the Dashboard, which shows the global activity for all users and projects.
Adding a new bug is quite easy. Within seconds you specify the defect related to a project, define its priority and assign it to the person in charge of taking action on it. The same screen allows you to define users that will be notified by email for any activity on this bug: changes in properties, file attachments or user comments.
While trying to attach a file to a bug I had a pleasant surprise: Google Docs integration. All my Google documents can be attached to any item with just one click. Nice.
Bontq is not only about issue tracking. You can manage the entire life cycle of the product. You can split your projects based on the company, create feature requests and custom tasks, test cases. Even the entire project documentation can be created and kept in the same place using the Wiki feature.
You can also create custom priorities (default ones provided are usually enough) and labels to help you better organize your work. Most of the sections available provides useful filters (by company, project, item types, ...) but if you want to further analyze your current status you can access the reports section.
Another thing I really appreciated about Bontq is the user role management. Having too much flexibility when defining user rights can turn into a nightmare when working with big projects and lots of users. Hopefully here we only three types of users: admin, user and client.
Bontq vs competition
So far so good. All the features mentioned above are probably provided by other similar products/services. What makes this software a great one, besides a very user friendly interface ?
The desktop client does it. Besides being able to do the same as with the we interface, you can take advantage of the operating system you use (Windows, Max OS X or Linux) and capture screenshots or record videos and then easily attach them to an item.
Usually when you want to attach a screenshot you first capture the screen, then open an image editor and add some more info on the picture, save it and then attach it. With the desktop client you just click on 'Capture screenshot' option from system tray, the image is automatically saved and opened in a photo editor where you can quickly add quick marks to identify where the problem is and then attach it to the bug. Is that easy.
And we have a similar story with capturing videos: just mark the area you want to capture, record and attach.
Documentation and support
As I already said the system is very easy to use and the learning curve should be minimum. You can still find two video tutorials and list of FAQs regarding the most common tasks.
Email support is available on the site.
I spent quite some time playing with Bontq and I have to say I was really impressed. It may not be as popular as other bug tracking systems but it is definitely worth a shot. The pricing plans offered are in the expected range for this type of service but you get some unique features that you will not find elsewhere.
: No credit card needed during 30 days trial period and if you decided to switch from Basecamp or FogBugs you can import all your existing work in Bontq.