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View Poll Results: How would you rate the response and follow-up on PHP bug reports?

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  • Excellent

    4 4.82%
  • Fine

    5 6.02%
  • OK; no worse than could be expected

    3 3.61%
  • Frustrating

    13 15.66%
  • Awful

    11 13.25%
  • I've never reported a bug in PHP

    47 56.63%
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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru dagfinn's Avatar
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    How is your experience in reporting PHP bugs?

    Following up on some recently reported frustration over the responses--or lack of response--on submitting bugs to bugs.php.net, it would be interesting to know how representative these experiences are.
    Dagfinn Reiersøl
    PHP in Action / Blog / Twitter
    "Making the impossible possible, the possible easy,
    and the easy elegant"
    -- Moshe Feldenkrais

  2. #2
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    Frustrating as it is, I've never reported a bug, but personally if there are bugs, it's up to the developer to find a workaround.

    A pretty bad attitude I know, but generally in all development languages you will have bugs of one kind or another. Programming languages are based upon themselves, software, and as software, bugs are a natural course of evolution.

    You are never going to get software that is 100% bug free, but I suppose opposition to that statement is that the very least, to make sure there are as few bugs as possible. But in saying that, reading about Marcus's attempts to report a bug, and others, I think a better reporting mechanism would help.

    It would help as well, if those reported bugs were properly followed up on and then something conclusive was done about it...

    At the end of the day, it's just something we've got to live with, and just get on with it

  3. #3
    eschew sesquipedalians silver trophy sweatje's Avatar
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    It seems that most bugs are marked bogus by default. It appears to me the only way to have a bug acted on is to bring it up first on the internals list, and have the consensus there that it is a bug and be requested to add it to the bug tracker.
    Jason Sweat ZCE - jsweat_php@yahoo.com
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    Detestable (adjective): software that isn't testable.

  4. #4
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    It's unfortunate, but from everything I've seen through these forums, sweatje's summed it up. There seems to be a clique surrounding PHP's internals.

  5. #5
    Resident Java Hater
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    Intestesting enough, that fact that >50% of people here have reported a bug seems to say something bad about the attitude the Zend guys have, let alone the bad experiences people have had. Some of these bugs are really silly as well, such as the reference one. I reported this last year and like jason said, they have a nasty habit of marking them as bogus. What baffles me is what bogus means. Does it mean "we are unsure this is a bug?", "yes it's probably bug but we can't be faffed to fix it", or "yes, it's a bug but we'd rather shy away from it and forget it was ever reported".

    I've found if you report a bug, it normally goes through a typical cycle. The first mark it as bogus and try to convince you it's your fault. The 2nd stage is to mention on the internals list and maybe they look at it again, or you pester tham again and they either mark it as a documentation bug, or assigned and not do much for a while. If you pester them more, you might be able to get them to change the status to assigned and make them admit it's a bug.

    Some small simple bugs I have found have been fairly easy to deal with, but these are generally small bugs. Core bugs which are probably distributed throughout the engine source seem to take forever to fix.

    To some degree, I do agree with Dr. Livingstone. However, I also disgree in the case of PHP, because somethings like the reference handling bugs are plain stupid and developers just shouldn't need to work round such things. All languages have bugs, but I've found PHP a nightmare to deal with. I have got to say (and yes I'm gonna say the 'R' word here) that with Ruby, the language is not riddled in silly bugs. Rails has some bugs, but they do seem to be documented on the Wiki if you can navigate round the Wiki.

    If PHP want to be seen as enterprise ready, they seriously need to look at how they deal with bugs.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Addict pachanga's Avatar
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    Folks, honestly, i have the feeling that zend core devs strictly follow "shut up or send the patch" policy... I think it's a very unhealthy attitude towards other developers. Being an OS developer myself and participating in different OS projects i do believe that positive attitude is very important if you want to gather a truly committed community.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard dreamscape's Avatar
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    Worse than being marked "bogus", I've seen a number of bug reports that the dev team confirms is a bug, and then marks "will not fix."

  8. #8
    SitePoint Guru dagfinn's Avatar
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    From http://bugs.php.net/how-to-report.php:

    There is a large number of PHP users. There is a much small number of people who actually develop the PHP language and extensions. There is an even smaller number of people who actively fix bugs reported by users.
    Notice the "even smaller number of people". I take this to mean that there are people who develop PHP but can't be bothered to fix the bugs they themselves created.
    Dagfinn Reiersøl
    PHP in Action / Blog / Twitter
    "Making the impossible possible, the possible easy,
    and the easy elegant"
    -- Moshe Feldenkrais

  9. #9
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    Iv'e only reported 2 bugs in my life, one was regarding missing pages in the documenation, the other was about an inaccurate documention regarding a function's ability. So far it is okay, probably because it wasn't a serious bug report.

  10. #10
    ********* Victim lastcraft's Avatar
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    Hi...

    Quote Originally Posted by dagfinn
    Notice the "even smaller number of people".


    yours, Marcus
    Marcus Baker
    Testing: SimpleTest, Cgreen, Fakemail
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweatje
    It seems that most bugs are marked bogus by default. It appears to me the only way to have a bug acted on is to bring it up first on the internals list, and have the consensus there that it is a bug and be requested to add it to the bug tracker.
    I've reported 3 bugs that never went to the internals list, and all 3 were resolved.

    The easiest way to get a bug looked at? Actually provide information necessary to fix it.

    Keep in mind that the MAJORITY of PHP developers (i.e. the non-Zend guys) are volunteers. They have very limited time that they can work, and as such they're less likely to fix bugs that take an extremely long time to track down that only affect a small percentage of the population.

    Also, most people don't even report bugs in the right areas or with the right classifications; they report apache or OS-level bugs as PHP bugs, etc.

    The biggest problem with bug reporting in PHP is the complete lack of good filtration. The devs get innundated with crap and can't fix the *real* bugs.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Zealot
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    This thread is great.
    I always post a bug when I found it. And always send a tiny peace of code.
    But always happen what sweatje says.
    What is the best list that you recomend me to participate and discuss PHP bugs and feature requests?

  13. #13
    SitePoint Guru dagfinn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Etnu
    The easiest way to get a bug looked at? Actually provide information necessary to fix it.
    I appreciate the fact that your experience is different from mine. But mine is that it's not at all easy. I was asked at least four or five times to provide information, and I did to the best of my ability. I literally spent hours trying to make the example so that they would get it (in fact, I spent several hours on the original bug report). Yet the bug was repeatedly labeled bogus. After a few months of this, they "fixed" it, but it wasn't a proper fix. So I had to start all over again to try to get it re-opened.

    This was in an early beta version. You would think they would actually want bug reports.
    Quote Originally Posted by Etnu
    Keep in mind that the MAJORITY of PHP developers (i.e. the non-Zend guys) are volunteers. They have very limited time that they can work, and as such they're less likely to fix bugs that take an extremely long time to track down that only affect a small percentage of the population.
    This is exactly the wrong attitude. Developers, whether they're volunteers or not, should care about the quality of their own work.
    Quote Originally Posted by Etnu
    The biggest problem with bug reporting in PHP is the complete lack of good filtration. The devs get innundated with crap and can't fix the *real* bugs.
    If the problem is lack of good filtration, maybe they need someone to monitor the bug database who is actually competent to do the job.
    Dagfinn Reiersøl
    PHP in Action / Blog / Twitter
    "Making the impossible possible, the possible easy,
    and the easy elegant"
    -- Moshe Feldenkrais

  14. #14
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    This is exactly the wrong attitude. Developers, whether they're volunteers or not, should care about the quality of their own work.
    You're right, they should -- but guess what? This isn't a commercial product. Zend doesn't have the resources to pay the developers on the project, and finding people who jump at the chance to fix bugs is about as easy as finding people who really enjoy self mutilation (they exist, but we generally try to avoid them in polite society).

    You're expecting the same motivations and attitude from an OS project as you'd get from a commercial entity (e.g. Microsoft or Sun). That just isn't ever going to happen. The complaints enumerated here are not new -- they've been there since the beginning of the project's entry into the open source world.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy kyberfabrikken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MiiJaySung
    Intestesting enough, that fact that >50% of people here have reported a bug seems to say something bad about the attitude the Zend guys have
    Actually it's 80% (At least now ... might have changed since your post)

    Quote Originally Posted by Etnu
    The easiest way to get a bug looked at? Actually provide information necessary to fix it.
    Thank you for taking the time to write to us, but this is not
    true. Please double-check the documentation available at
    http://bugs.php.net/ and the replies given to reported bugs.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Guru dagfinn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Etnu
    You're right, they should -- but guess what? This isn't a commercial product. Zend doesn't have the resources to pay the developers on the project, and finding people who jump at the chance to fix bugs is about as easy as finding people who really enjoy self mutilation (they exist, but we generally try to avoid them in polite society).

    You're expecting the same motivations and attitude from an OS project as you'd get from a commercial entity (e.g. Microsoft or Sun). That just isn't ever going to happen. The complaints enumerated here are not new -- they've been there since the beginning of the project's entry into the open source world.
    Thank you, that really makes it clearer (no irony intended). And if it were the whole truth, open source software wouldn't be a viable concept. Or at least, it wouldn't be where it is today.

    The motivation I'm asking for is a basic sense of responsibility: people should clean up their own messes. My 5 year old son doesn't get this, but my 8 year old daughter does. In other words, you should fix your own bugs.

    Which leads me to suspect that the underlying problem is a culture that doesn't foster that sense of ownership and responsibility.

    If you need special people "who jump at the chance to fix bugs", rather than the original developers, does that mean that there are some who consider themselves too important to fix their own bugs, and leave that to other, less important people? If so, no wonder the lowly bug fixers treat others with the same arrogance.
    Dagfinn Reiersøl
    PHP in Action / Blog / Twitter
    "Making the impossible possible, the possible easy,
    and the easy elegant"
    -- Moshe Feldenkrais

  17. #17
    ********* Victim lastcraft's Avatar
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    Hi...

    Quote Originally Posted by Etnu
    This isn't a commercial product.
    Zend have built their entire company around it and have control of a large part of our lives (by accident). They most certainly have a duty to fix PHP core issues as they are planning to make themselves rich as a result of the community. A community we all helped foster for mutual benefit. At the moment their relationship is moving toward parasitic.

    Regarding your (frankly rather crass) comment about only posting a bug with a fix, I would be happy to trek through a large pile of unfamiliar C code (luckiliy I'm a C code or I could never submit a bug) and supply a fix . All it would take is for Zend to put me on the payroll why I did it. I would accept a reduced rate (I'm not greedy) as long as I knew the code would be accepted. Hardly efficient is it? Both you and I know that it is easier for Zend themselves to fix their own bugs. Especially as finding them is the hard part.

    Whilst Sun have a very good reputation in the Enterprise (remember that), because of their attitude toward defects, I find no less pride in the work of most OS projects. PHP is at the lower end even in this category.

    Also I doubt anybody in this forum just tossed out any kind of careless report. Every bug I have submitted in the past (I no longer bother) has had a few hours voluntary work isolating an example in pure form. That's a good deal more work than simply closing the bug as bogus with a comment to read the manual. As most of the bugs I have submitted are server crashers, I guess they should add a manual comment that "any code sample not explicitely in the manual may crash the server". At least then the comment would be accurate.

    yours, Marcus
    Marcus Baker
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  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Promotors of OS software always say there is a vast community of people who will help when you have a problem. The reality is the number of developers of an OS product is usually rather small, and so fixing bugs has to take its turn in the queue of other things, such as earning a living. If dozens of bugs are found, how do they prioritise them? Do they stop working on whatever part they are working on just now and fix the bug, or finish the bit they are engrossed in just now? Personally I'd continue with the bit I was working on and if time permitted look at some of the bugs afterwards. But still the story goes that you point out a bug and they fix it for you, unlike commercial software. Here we are hearing the truth - they fix it when they can, if they can find the time. If you're lucky. Just like every other sort of software.

    Help to find a work-round from users - yes, that does occur a lot, as we see in these forums.

  19. #19
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    I think some of you have an interesting view of FOSS. PHP isn't "their" code -- it is "our" code. The idea that people aren't interested in fixing bugs that they themselves created would be laughable if it wasn't so insulting. No software is perfect and with FOSS, we share the workload across the community. To expect one person or one group to shoulder everyone's issues and the entire codebase is both unfair and unreasonable. If it doesn't meet your expectations, you certainly aren't forced to use it and you are certainly encouraged to do something about it by making a contribution of your own.

    The point of FOSS isn't that someone will fix bugs for you -- though they might! -- it is that you have the power to fix bugs yourself (amoung other things). If you don't have the wherewithall to do so, then you can hire or contract someone to do it for you or perhaps even provide a bounty as other projects sometimes do. If the fix doesn't get adopted into the canonical distribution, no problem, you can maintain your own patch. Its not about a free-lunch, its about being invited to the table.

    Bugs aren't being handled or prioritized the way you like? Boo-hoo. Do something constructive about it -- you have that right. Put forward an argument based on fact. Provide test cases. Demonstrate the importance of the issue to the general population. If the bug only affects YOU, how many people do you think will spend their time on it? You may have to roll up your sleeves or be prepared to hire help. Some may say that that isn't professional enough or doesn't speak towards "enterprise readiness". Huh? When an enterprise needs help, they pay for it. BTW, if you haven't paid Zend for a PHP license or for a support contract, what exactly do they owe you? By my calculations, nothing at all.

    Bug reporting and resolution is just as much about social interaction as anything else in FOSS. You also have the right to criticize but good luck with that one working out in a positive way.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy kyberfabrikken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayboots
    If it doesn't meet your expectations, you certainly aren't forced to use it
    That's a fairly naive viewpoint. In theory I'm not forced into using windows as an operationsystem either, but I wouldn't be able to run any applications without it, would I ? Same story with PHP - I could choose to write my applications in some obscure language, but I'll have a hard time getting anybody to host my applications.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Addict mx2k's Avatar
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    :::kicks jayboots soapbox out from under him:::

    no offense, but zend is taking the roll of deciding what goes in the offical build of php and is trying to capitalize on php by selling it off as an enterprise ready language.

    Not to mention, that even if you did impliment a fix and compiled it, its only on your server, that is, if you can afford a server otherwise your stuck with shared hosting and i'm sure all those hosting companies will let you fix problem and up load your version of php ......

    so if its an enterprise ready language where is the enterprise ready support to fix those bugs so they can put their money where their advertising (mouth) is and sell those enterprise php platforms?

    and if you do fix something, they would still have to go through the code, test it themselves and agree to impliment it. If someone else was fixing your code, wouldn't you be a little skeptical before implimenting it just to be on the safe side?

  22. #22
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    Slightly off topic, but it appears that I've come across one of those bugs myself now

    When I do some more digging, I'll see about making a point to let you all know... One more statistic huh

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyberfabrikken
    That's a fairly naive viewpoint. In theory I'm not forced into using windows as an operationsystem either, but I wouldn't be able to run any applications without it, would I ? Same story with PHP - I could choose to write my applications in some obscure language, but I'll have a hard time getting anybody to host my applications.
    I disagree. Just use ASP, or ASP.Net or JSP or something else like Perl or Python or Ruby. The point is, you can pay for a system that meets your expectations. I think by "hard-time" you mean it may cost you more money. So? Why should that be someone else's problem?

    The fact is, you aren't forced to use PHP nor are you forced to use Windows -- unless you are being paid to do so. If you are then where is the problem? Pay for someone to take care of your issues when you have them -- surely it is possible. For example, IBM is getting into this space and they are revered for their paid support services. As for not being able to run applications without Windows -- is that just a troll or is something lost in translation?

    Some people are also making it sound like the devs (and Zend) don't care about PHP development, don't fix bugs and generally ignore everyone. Check the stats at the bug site before you decide if this is true: http://bugs.php.net/bugstats.php It is true that Zend tends to decide the direction, but they do so with community input and while I don't agree with everything they have done or are doing, they are doing a good enough job that seems to meet the needs of most users.

    It is far more naive to assume that someone who has already provided something for you to use in an open and free way is also obligated to make sure it does everything you want it to and without error and within the timeframe and parameters that you set. It is also naive to think that the community does not want to help. The fact that some people seem to be advocating not reporting bugs because they have not got what they feel to be adequate traction for some of the issues they reported is irresponsible and rather disheartening to see in a professional forum.
    Last edited by jayboots; Sep 8, 2005 at 12:27.

  24. #24
    SitePoint Wizard dreamscape's Avatar
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    >> In theory I'm not forced into using windows as an operationsystem either, but I wouldn't be able to run any applications without it, would I?

    That is also a narrow and naive viewpoint. You only think applications do not exist for anything but windows. That doesn't make it true. I haven't touched widows for 3 years and there is not a single application that doesn't exist on my platform or that I cannot find a reasonable alternative to.

  25. #25
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    Pay for someone to take care of your issues when you have them -- surely it is possible.
    True, but not always a viable option, financially or otherwise.

    The fact that some people seem to be advocating not reporting bugs because they have not got what they feel to be adequate traction for some of the issues they reported is irresponsible and rather disheartening to see in a professional forum.


    In most cases, this in it's self is more deadly than the actual bug it's self. The whole -BEEP- point of a bug report, is that a bug has been documented. If people through whatever reason don't take the time to report a bug, then it leaves other developers banging their heads senselessly off a wall somewhere.

    For a developer to ignore a bug, then that is the lowest thing that a developer could do in my view.


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