Topic Glimpse: Distributed Issue Tracking

One topic that’s been getting explored off and on for the last half-decade is distributed issue tracking. The idea is that, with distributed version control systems like Git and Mercurial, maybe it’d be a good idea to also store your issue records (bugs and feature requests) in a decentralized fashion.

The two main upsides to this idea are:

  1. You can work with the bug database while disconnected, just like git/hg/bzr/etc. allow you to do with your other project resources.
  2. The status of a bug (open, fixed, wontfix, etc.) can be automatically kept on a per-branch basis, so you never need to worry about keeping track of which version of the code has which status for each bug.

However, there is a fairly large downside: It’s much more difficult to handle things that should be global, like discussion and keeping track of whether a given person has claimed a bug.

Personally, given that many similar arguments were made for staying with centralized version control software like Subversion, I think the idea has more potential than it might seem, but like any decentralized system, it’ll take a lot of time, effort, and PR work before it will be ready for prime-time.

Here are a few links if you’d like to start learning more:

Update 2014-04-29: You’ll probably also want to check out this StackOverflow Question.

Update 2014-04-30: …and this Current State of Distributed Issue Tracking blog post.

Update 2021-03-05: One of the issue trackers I remember when working on this post was Bugs Everywhere but, now, git-bug seems to be the most mature option, with support for import/export/sync with other issue trackers and a work-in-progress web UI of its own. Alternatively, there are also git-issue and bug.

Update 2021-09-03: Fedeproxy is an open-source service for synchronizing state between different services.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Topic Glimpse: Distributed Issue Tracking by Stephan Sokolow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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