Closet Coder

I work in my closet. I code. Yep.

ToDo Lists and Bug Trackers

| Comments

I love GTD. I love making lists and having things to do. I love having a system. That also makes me love bug trackers when I’m on a team. I love having everything listed in one place. I love letting it be the communication point for a team to get things done. Bug Trackers and To Do lists are great.

They just don’t seem to work very well together most of the time.

When you have a ToDo list, it is almost, by nature, a personal, single-person list. You might have one you share with your family, but in general there are things that YOU have to get done and there’s a way YOU caputure things from your brain. Everybody’s list looks different. They’re allowed to. They are there to do a job that is really meant to help you.

A Bug tracker, on the other hand, is a communication tool. It’s meant for a team. It’s meant, even, for people outside the team to a degree. To let people know the status of a given defect or feature. To let people see the state of a project where there are many collaborators. You have to agree on HOW you’re oing to communicate between each other. You have to agree on what style of tracker you’re going to use and what way you’re going to use it.

And somewhere between those two worlds, there are things that just don’t work well.

I’ve seen “collaborative ToDo lists” like WunderList Pro, Kickoff, and Producteev, but they miss the mark on both counts. I can tell you that I don’t think there will ever be a good way to make a single app that does both.

But here’s how see them sort-of working together:

  1. You can capture a task to create a bug or feature (Push to tracker)
  2. You can convert a bug or feature to a personal task. (Pull from tracker)
  3. Don’t put a bug in your task list (see #1)
  4. Don’t put a task in your bug tracker… just in your task list.
  5. Bug Tracker issues have the final say in what’s on your plate for a given project, so pull from them at the beginning of the day, and possibly other times throughout the day.
  6. Personal task lists have the final say for what’s on your plate at a given moment, so dump into them frequenly and only grab tasks that are ACTUALLY listed on your task list. If it’s not there, either add it, or ask why it’s not there.

It would be great if there was some kind of agreed upon protocol that might sit in the middle and talk to some of these bug trackers so that it was simple to “promote” or “pull”. Hmm. I see an idea brewing.