There is a wealth of good help desk applications on the market, but software developers have special needs when it comes to tracking bugs. For developers, bug tickets need to be joined to the rest of the development workflow, and integrations with a host of other tools (development environments, source control managers, and so on) are quite important. As a result, the kinds of tools that are suitable for a help desk don’t do a good job of helping developers with the tickets they work with. Here are five applications specialized for the ticketing needs of developers.

Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.

1: FogBugz

FogBugz (Figure A) has several intelligent features for getting bugs worked out and development tasks completed. One of the most interesting ones is “evidence-based estimating,” in which the inaccuracy of previous estimates is used to tweak current estimates to try to make them closer to reality. It also has integrations with source control systems. FogBugz easily integrates with Mercurial through Fog Creek’s Kiln product.

Figure A


2: MantisBT

If you are looking for a mature, open source bug tracker, MantisBT (Figure B) is a popular choice. It has a number of unique features, such as mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone and the ability to Tweet tickets in. It supports CVS, SVN, and git, and it provides a SOAP API for you to write your own integrations in as well. Also fairly unusual is that it supports a wide variety of database back ends.

Figure B


3: Trac

Another open source choice is Trac (Figure C). Like some of the others, it integrates with source control (git, Mercurial, and various common DVCSs). But it also adds a wiki. Trac has a limited feature set by design, and as a result it is easy to use and get accustomed to. If you are looking for a “just the basics” toolset with a simple workflow, Trac is a good choice.

Figure C


4: Jira

Jira (Figure D) is a Web-based bug and issue tracker that provides some nice visualizations of the workflow to resolve problems. It integrates into a number of source code systems, too. It also offers a lot of keyboard shortcuts, which will make it comfortable for many developers. Jira is available on demand in the cloud or on-premise.

Figure D


5: Team Foundation Server

While the help desk and ticketing functionality built into Team Foundation Server (Figure E) does not particularly stand out, its integrations are hard to ignore. With the tight connection between Visual Studio, source code management, reporting, and the tickets, it is easy for developers and managers alike to relate bugs and user problems to the activities of the development team.

Figure E

Team Foundation Server

Other choices?

Do you have a favorite ticketing system that didn’t make this list? Share your recommendations with fellow developers.