LibreOffice to tackle critical bugs with HardHacks program

The intent is to handle the hardest to solve bugs more smoothly, LibreOffice said

LibreOffice plans to more swiftly quash its toughest software bugs through a new program that aims to improve cooperation between its quality assurance team and developers.

On Monday it announced the HardHacks program, in which the QA team will identify the five most critical and annoying bugs, said Björn Michaelsen, a member of the Engineering Steering Committee and board of The Document Foundation, the company behind LibreOffice, in a blog post detailing the plans. These bugs will be handed over to a team of the most experienced core LibreOffice developers.

All HardHack bugs that are selected by the QA team should be in one of LibreOffice's Most Annoying Bug (MAB) lists, Michaelsen said. In general, MABs are problems that impact a large number of users, or make the use of LibreOffice more difficult because they require a work-around that is not easily accessible to all users, said Italo Vignoli, director at The Document Foundation.

The aim of the HardHacks program is to keep awareness of these critical bugs high among the developers and provide qualified feedback biweekly, according to Michaelsen. From now on, the QA team will report the five most critical bugs every other week. They will be assigned to individual developers, who will report back on the problem the next week, he added.

This will hopefully prevent "that awkward silence on some bugs where everyone thinks it's on the other to push this forward," Michaelsen wrote. The program will also "keep the most pressing quality issues present in the minds of the developers," who "might otherwise strive to implement the next shiny and exciting new feature a little too early or too often."

LibreOffice has always focused on hard bugs, according to Vignoli. "But now that we have a larger development community it is quite logical that core developers ... can spend some more time on these tasks," he said. Core developers in the past have spent a lot of time helping new developers get up to speed, he said.

It is also important to keep in mind that LibreOffice is essentially based on volunteer work, and it is not always easy to keep focus when you are a volunteer, Vignoli said.

Changing the way critical bugs are dealt with is a process of a growing and developing community, said Vignoli. LibreOffice is also going to focus on other areas such as certification, marketing and the development of local communities in the near future, he said, "something that we have always done but now that we are better established we will do with more focus and attention."

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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