Interactive Hooks: Apport to Improve Ubuntu Bug Tracking

Jun 15, 2009

Apport immediately kicks in when an application crashes. In the future the program should be user-interactive in detecting bugs faster and more efficiently.

Stumbling over a bug and having to write a report has concerned many users over time. A short symptom description in a Launchpad platform is no problem. But followup questions from developers requesting log and trace reports irked a lot of users and bugs thus often stayed unresolved.

All this could be made easier for Ubuntu developers and users. Enter Apport with its interactive solution. Previously the software simply notified the user when a program hit a bug and urged her to file a report. Apport would search its bug database and provide hints for pre-existing ones. Some time soon Apport will go to an interactive system to help pinpoint the error and prevent duplication.

The new functions should also provide hooks to collect data that the user perhaps can't collect on his own. Apport would do this through hints as simple as to request the user to plug in the device so that it can send the logged data automatically. Or it can ask the user to send an OpenOffice document where a particular problem arose. It can also help focus certain conditions: if your sound drops out, Apport checks the parameters involved and helps developers pinpoint where the error came from.

The GNOME and KDE GUIs for the applicaton are still in the works. Developers who want to build Apport Hooks into their programs can go to the Ubuntu wiki page. Further details also come from Martin Pitt's Blog and the project page from the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Barcelona where the new Apport ideas first emerged.

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