Let’s imagine that you have just cloned an application’s Github repository and have encountered a problem. For example, perhaps
./gradlew build is failing. Or, perhaps one of the application’s containers is failing to start. You need to ask for help. But what information should you include in the problem report?
In this post, I’ll answer that question from the perspective of a recipient of problem reports from users of a variety of platforms and applications including the Eventuate platform and platform.microservices.io. Many problem reports are quite thorough but sadly there are some that are remarkably vague. As a result, it can be difficult to diagnose the root cause.
To avoid any confusion, here are the details that I generally like to see in a problem report.
The first essential detail is the version of the code that you are attempting to use. The commit might seem obvious, especially if you have created a GitHub issue. But, new commits might have been added since you cloned the repository. Or, the repository might have multiple branches or tags. What’s more, you might report the problem outside of the repository, such as via Email or Slack. Consequently, your problem report should include the repository URL, the branch, and the commit.
Furthermore, if you have made changes to the code you should also describe them in your problem report.
A good way to describe the changes is to provide the output of
git diff, e.g.
git diff origin/master.
The second essential detail to include in the problem report is the sequence of ‘commands’ that reproduce the problem. You might need to also describe how you ran the command(s). For example, Gradle tasks can be run from either the command line or within Intellij IDEA.
Another essential detail is the complete error message that has been copy/pasted from the terminal window or test report. Also, if it’s a Java application, you should provide the complete stack trace (which includes the error message) since it will show the error’s location.
It’s also essential to include the output of the failing command and/or any log files. For example:
In order to ensure that you don’t leave out any important details, you should provide the complete log files and test report files. One convenient way to do do this is by creating Github Gists.
If the application is containerized, it’s valuable to include the output of
docker ps -a.
docker ps shows all containers, not just running containers.
Quite often a terminated container is a valuable clue.
Lastly, it’s important to describe your environment, which includes:
You could, for example, include the output of
Please include the following essential details in your problem reports:
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