I’ve known a JIRA update was coming. I did not expect what I saw this morning. It was also the main topic of discussion at Oz Linden’s Open Source user group and Andrews Server-Scripting UG. Alexa Linden was at OZ’s meeting to help answer questions. See the announcement: JIRA Update: Changes to The Bug Reporting Process.
If you are not a JIRA user you may think this is not going to have an effect on you. I think you will be wrong. I am not at all sure how the changes are going to work… or if they will work. But, it is a huge change in how bug reporting is handled throughout Second Life™. It also has a large number of effects on how we do things within Second Life, the forums and blogs. I am afraid this is not going to be a good thing. What I am sure of is; we are going to have to deal with it for some time.
Reporting bugs is not easy. One does have to read the instructions and learn how to report problems so the information is useful. An effort has been made to make that easier. The problem is we can no longer browse bug reports to see if there is a duplicate. Now… that doesn’t sound like much of a problem. But, think about it.
The announcement says, “Second Life users will only see their own reported issues. When a Bug reaches the “Been Triaged” status, they will no longer be able to add comments to their issue.” If you have followed this blog for any time you know how often I link to JIRA items and encourage you to vote/watch or add your information. That will apparently go away.
You can see if you can see the bug I just reported: BUG-9 – First time a door opens the viewer fails to show it opening. See if you can add a comment. Do not actually add a comment unless you have something to add that will help define the problem or aid in fixing it.
I filed another bug report in the Pathfinding project: PATHBUG-190 – Beta & Dev Viewers cannot render PF Characters. See if you can see it or add a comment.
You should get different results on the two items.
We are not sure how duplicates will ultimately be handled. The Alexa was not sure either. The Lab is currently figuring they will deal with them.
If they were to block them, which would not be easy as people often describe the same issue differently, how many bugs are you going to report after you hit a couple of blocked attempts due to ‘duplicate’ reject?
If they continue to allow them to be filed and then consolidate them into an internal JIRA item, your report may be locked and no longer updated. The announcement says, “You can watch the Release Notes to see when and if a fix has been released for your issue.” zOMG, that is just what I want to do… Imagine the problem of figuring out whether my JIRA item is part of some internal JIRA item the Lindens made… Oh Yeah… that will be fun.
It looks like for now they will handle and process duplicates. Alexa said, “It will be a challenge.” No doubt. Oz said, “The way it is supposed to work now is that when we triage issues that appear to be duplicates, the information from each will be combined in an internal issue.” I hope it works well for them. I can’t see it being that great for residents.
The Effect on SL
If you attend user groups you know that most meeting areas have what we call a JIRA Helper. This is a scripted object that listens to the conversation. When someone types into chat SVC-8124 or any JIRA ID the helper looks up the JIRA, gets the link and description and writes the full description and ID as a link to the item. Residents and Lindens both use it. It makes conversation about specific bug or feature request really easy. That is going away.
In a meeting after I started writing this article Oskar Linden tried to use his JIRA Helper in Morris. It is in fact broken returning a 499 error.
This is a huge deal. It is going to greatly complicate an already tedious task. The Lab has never been reputed to have good communication skills and this change is certainly going to degrade communication and require more effort from Lindens and residents.
People are already upset that there is no easy way to know what is going on in SL. I try to offset that and provide a summary of what is happening with this blog. From what I know now, this will make my job a bit harder and parts of the reporting will just go away. For those that do not read my blog things are going to get much worse. I don’t see that as helping the overall attitude and disposition of residents and especially wackadoodles.
In the Linden Scripting Language (LSL) Wiki we use JIRA numbers to explain problems that one must work around or deal with while waiting for a fix. Having the JIRA links in the LSL section of the wiki is a big help. With the change to only being able to see your own items, that goes away. So, scripters are screwed.
New SL users are going to be way frustrated trying to figure out what is wrong with their script. I think a lack of linking to problems is going to increase the animosity users feel when they find a problem they have worked on for days is a known and often long known issue.
Plus a number of scripters-for-hire use the JIRA to prove that certain problems in SL cannot be overcome. That use is going away for any newly discovered problems.
There is supposed to be a thread or two discussing the change: LL Shutting down server development? JIRA changes …, which is the only one I can find in the SL Forum. There is no chance that server development is shutting down. But, can you imagine how they are going to relate what is changing in the server without JIRA notes? This JIRA change is going to mess up the way lots of things are done in the SL.
Over at SLUniverse there is a thread: LL Closing the Jira system.
The ADITI inventory problems that came after we changed passwords is an example of on topic discussion solving a problem. JIRA-SVC-7727. It seemed having people contributing to the thread did a lot to contribute to figuring out a work-around. People are still having problems and the fix from the JIRA thread (which is marked fixed even if people keep having problems) seems to be to: keep changing passwords until it clicks. As the new JIRA is; we would never have figured that out.
It is the off topic discussion that is a problem. This seems like a nuclear fix for that problem. I think the collateral damage will be huge.
Why the Lab does anything is something the Lindens cannot normally comment on. It is internal communication and the rules at the Lab are that it remains internal.
Both Oz and Alexa were asked ‘why’ the change. No comment from either as to why.
We can speculate. I didn’t see the Paratrex post in the JIRA that Oskar responded to. But, I expect people filling the JIRA with rants and Linden slams is a primary reason for this change. No one wants to deal with that mess. So, the community’s behavior has probably brought this change about. We can’t know but I’ll speculate that is the case.
This change is in place and the Lab will be experimenting to see how it works. This is a thing about their JIRA, which the Lindens feel is for them and their QA effort. So, if it works for them, then we just have to adapt… or not. In many ways we will have no choice. But, it is our choice to report bugs or not. If experienced users stop reporting bugs, what will happen to new users that run into them, get frustrated, and depart SL? We can’t know how much of a problem that will be. So, we really can’t predict the end of SL due to this change.
I am suggesting that we provide user cases of how we used the JIRA as it was. There is little else we can do that is constructive. If you have a user case, write it up in a note card and send it to Alexa Linden. If you have a rant, stifle it or put it in your own blog. Rants are likely why we are stuck with this annoying change.
There is a Feedback Survey that JIRA users can fill out. If you are not using the JIRA or have not tried to use the new JIRA, wait to fill it out. Give it a few days or even a couple of weeks. Of course if you have already run into problems, go for it. Do make your contribution constructive. Asking how specific user cases will be handled is constructive… at least in my book.
Ranting and abuse does not help.
There is no way to know for sure why this change was implemented. I expect the timing is due to the release of a new JIRA version and the Lab updating to it. I doubt this is a change that came up over night. That Lindens have been contributing to the new reporting form suggests this has been in the works for some time. Plus the JIRA update was released in June or July. So, this is a plan to handle some issue the Lindens see. It won’t be easily rolled back without a better plan, which is hard to provide when one does not know why the change was made…
This one of those Linden Catch-22 problems that so infuriate people. The rest of the people are just annoyed with a big change in how they do things.
Personally I think this is change that will have unintended consequences. I also think the Lindens while fixing a problem they see are working within their usual area of blindness. They can’t see how it will affect users because they are not really users, at least those making the decision.
I think in the long run it will reduce bug reporting and leave more bugs running for longer. That in turn will create more problems for users. Those will be especially bad for new users. So, I think user retention is likely to take another hit. But, not having any proof of that thinking, it is just my pet theory. Since there is no way to tie any indirect results, measurable or not, to the change in the JIRA many of the unintended consequences will be invisible to the Lindens.
Tonya Souther: LL shoots itself in the ass again: public JIRA is closed. – A member of the Firestorm development team. Quoting:
And, as I said in my last post here, having the JIRAs be secret hurts TPVs, too. It makes it much harder for us to know whether the bug we’re hunting is a LL bug. It also makes it harder for us to realize that we just fixed an LL bug and contribute the fix back to them. They spend a lot of time assuring us they want our contributions. This change makes that much more questionable.
Innula Zenovka: Changes to the jira.. hiding bug reports?
NeoBokrug Elytis: Point gun at foot, pull trigger. [JIRA CHANGES] – A number of well know SL residents are discussing problems with the change. I think about every user case possible is coming up in the thread. Penny Patton is commenting it the thread, making some thoughtful rather than reactive points.