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What everyone should know about bugs

If you have never worked on a software development project before, you may be completely shocked during the first testing session. I guarantee that you will find a bug in the system within the first hour. In fact, you are likely to find something you didn't expect in the first 10 minutes.

This may trigger a panic attack in you. I know exactly what you are thinking: What happened? Didn't the programmer test at all? Did we hire the wrong person? We are doomed!

Calm down. Take a deep breath.

Let me give you some information about software bugs that will help you traverse this scary time. 

First, finding bugs is normal. In most software projects, a programmer (or team of programmers) write the code and do a lot of their own testing. However, fairly quickly in the process they develop blind spots. They start testing using the same steps, and they miss the steps that you used. That's why it is critical that someone who is not the programmer test the software.

Second, a good programmer HATES bugs. Despises them. And wants to kill them dead, er, fix them. Quickly.

Third, a programmer needs information to fix bugs. He needs to know what happened and what you expected to happen. He needs to know how to reproduce the problem so that it can be fixed. (Here are some tips for writing really good bug reports.)

If you have provided a good bug report, and the programmer reports that the bug is fixed but it isn't, now you can panic. Well, actually no, you don't need to panic unless this happens repeatedly.

Let me tell you a secret: While I hate bugs, I'm actually happy when my users report bugs during the testing phase of a project. When users find bugs during testing, that means we'll get them fixed before we go live. I have seen plenty of projects where the software was not sufficiently tested up-front, and went into production with lots of bugs. It is better to find those problems early and resolve them, than to subject lots of users to them later.

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