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Since I'm working at least 50% on Linux which is probably the operating system which gets not so much attention from Wolfram, I find new bugs regularly. What bothers me the most is, that tracking a bug down and writing a good bug report takes time but I can never be sure, someone else already reported the same issue which would render my action useless.

Especially in Version 9.0.0 the community found some serious issues. Mostly they were propagated through our chat, but neither I can be online all the time nor other users.

Question: Is there any issue tracker where one can look up open issues of Mathematica? If not, might it be possible to maintain our own tracker, where everyone can insert confirmed bugs?

This MathGroup message suggests, that is some webinterface to the bugtracker. Unfortunately the site is down. Let's assume, we set up our own buglist, everyone could insert not only the bug itself, but the information from the support response too. This would be extremely helpful.

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I work on Linux too and would like to help. – b.gatessucks Dec 12 '12 at 14:42
Could we not do this by writing a community wiki question 'What bugs have you found in Mathematica 9'. People answer by putting up a suspected bug and we confirm or otherwise in the comments. The usual voting system will help form a priority queue. – WalkingRandomly Dec 12 '12 at 15:18
@Guess I wonder if the [bugs] tag is appropriate for this question: while certainly related, perhaps the absence of a public bug tracker is not itself a bug. – ilian Aug 11 at 18:20
@ilian, I suppose, but I don't know of more appropriate tags. Can you suggest anything? – J. M. Aug 12 at 0:28
@ilian Is that energy not better spend convincing Stephen Wolfram to finally implement such a public system at WRI? I mean this mathgroup post is over 6 years old and has the same suggestions. Now in 2015 we finally arrived at a point where we are misusing SE as publicly available bug-db for Mathematica. Is there really nothing we can do to solve the underlying problem? – halirutan Aug 12 at 2:59

2 Answers 2

To answer your question, no, there is no publicly facing bug tracker sponsored by Wolfram. I have also reported several bugs to support. In order to prepare a bug report that doesn't lead to several iterations, I have found it useful to send a screencast of what I was doing. This is irrefutable.

Of course, there are pro's and con's to a bug tracker. I'm torn between the "search through the previously-reported bugs to see if mine is there" and "just report it to technical support" and even if they've heard it a million times, it's no skin off their back. (Unlike an open source system, where you might be wasting volunteer's time if you reported a duplicate bug.)

I dunno. With a system this large, powerful, and cross-platform, there will be bugs. Even if the system runs 99.99% correct, due to the size of the system, the 0.01% of bugs might be appear large in magnitude.

Having a public list of bugs, some real, but many to most user error, may be seen to tarnish Mathematica's image as a trustworthy platform. As a writer of ad hoc software, I have a lot of tolerance for code with bugs. But in the commercial arena, image is everything; and, there will be a vociferous group of intolerant folks who will point to the bug tracker, hence damaging the brand. If I were WRI, I would not sponsor this because in the end, it's just not worth it.

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Mathematica already has a group of beta testers, presumably picked because they push the envelope of the systems capabilities. A bug tracker visible to that group or another selected group could prove useful without exposing the company to unconsidered attention. Everything new needs a bit of coddling. – Jagra Dec 12 '12 at 15:28
@Eric I disagree here. Firstly, todays bugtrackers are easily searchable and work like a charm. There are dev-groups out there having several hundred developers and they have to keep track of many more issues than Wolfram has. Secondly, it's my time I'm spending creating a bugreport. I would rather search a bug-database for some minutes. – halirutan Dec 12 '12 at 16:38
@murray But I don't speak about the prerelease bugs here! I speak about the ones that are in the final release and bother everyone. Of course my goal is not to damage WRI's image because I love Mathematica. I see it differently: Reporting bugs here in chat and having WRI guys reacting and joining discussions raised the respectability of WRI in my eyes and I'm sure many others think the same. – halirutan Dec 12 '12 at 16:50
@halirutan I think Eric was speaking of those people in the industry who look at Mathematica more from a distance (think managers and pointy-haired bosses :)). They may not know about these nice user-developer interactions, but it is enough that one or two posts appear on some blogs where people would trash M based on the bug repository, that they will quickly form an opinion that it is "that buggy stuff", which would be very hard to change. I am not against your suggestion, I just think that what we here know is not quite the same thing as what more general audience might perceive. – Leonid Shifrin Dec 12 '12 at 18:16
What might be useful is if we had a community wiki or similar with bugs listed as V7, V8, V9 etc. we might be able to lobby Wolfram to fix bugs with each major release rather than let bugs go unfixed for several versions -- at least the bugs identified in the wiki. – Mike Honeychurch Dec 12 '12 at 22:30

I completely agree with halirutan about the worth of a bug tracker system for Mathematica, it is something very useful for developers like us, which spend almost every day on Mathematica.

In my experience (about 20 years) of Mathematica's evangelism, I met very few people which were negatively influenced by bugs. Generally speaking, who works with software knows that all software, really all, has some kind of bug or wrong behavior. Moreover, consider that if you are going to make an investment on a software, in terms of know-how more than on the licenses, you should be aware of any problem influencing the area of application you intend to use the software for. On the other hand, even if you know there is a bug in a specific context you will never use, this will not influence your decision. So, in any case the makers of that software should be happy of that, because you can decide without being fooled by the limited information about their product. In other terms, a serious tracker system can help people who already works with Mathematica and help other to decide if the software is suitable or not for them.

Of course, stupid people will always speak against the software or the company (Wolfram), starting from a bug or even from a negative comment here on SE, this is inevitable with or without the bug tracker system.

What I would suggest is to use the same professionality used here on SE, that means trying to keep a good and serious level of comments and try to be focused on the actual problem and avoid unuseful comments about why a bug is there or why Wolfram doesn't remove that bug. We cannot know how complex is the internal process of a software house producing a huge software like Mathematica, so there could be thousands of reasons why a bug is not fixed when we wish.

On the other hand, the tracker system will save a lots of our time, allowing us to be aware of a bug and avoid to spend time trying the correction of something wrong that doesn't depends upon our code. Finally, another positive aspect is that with the contribution of the SE community, a bug can be easily overcome by workarounds suggested by expert users, so even beginners will take advantage, also appreciating the versatility of Mathematica, that allows many different ways to obtain the same result.

Finally, another possibility could be to create something with limited access only to those having a good reputation as SE users, so to limit the possibility of a misuse of the bug's list and related comments. Personally, I don't like closed groups, but considering we are discussing critical aspects of a commercial software, this could be a sort of compromise to show our professional intention to contribute to the software development and to its adoption and not to damage it or the its makers. Not sure this is possible, but could be a starting point.

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Of course I agree completely. I cannot even listen to myself, because I always repeat this like a priest over and over again. But look what we do instead: WRI members searching and synchronizing SE with their database. We try to standardize bug headers on SE and even write tools to find them. This is not how it's supposed to be.. – halirutan Jul 25 at 14:23
@bobknight I use Mathematica since 25 years and I am very much negatively influenced by bugs, design omissions and terribly bad and incomplete documentation. I argued with SW personally about a public bug list in 1991 and he listened but argued that software companies do not usually do this. So, unless there is a noticable change in culture I think he will still not do it. My guess is it just will not happen. Anybody else will also not do this since it costs real money, insight and a lot of time to do right. – Rolf Mertig Jul 26 at 14:48
@RolfMertig yes, bugs make unhappy everybody. What I was trying to explain is that (IMO) a public bug tracker is not a damage for the company brand or software. Indeed, the fact that you (like me) still use M is the confirmation: the decision to use a software is based more on its advantage/features, than on its bugs. I know the Idea of Wolfram (the company and the CEO) that a public bug list is not right, but if we are able to keep it in the right way, with the contribution of the whole community it can be it will even welcome by the company. Or, at least, it should not be hated :-) – bobknight Jul 26 at 16:57

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