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  • Mantis

MantisBT (Bug Tracker) is a free, open source bug tracking application that relies on the PHP Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) scripting language and MySQL (the most popular open-source version of Structured Query Language (SQL) database management software) to provide a collaborative and customizable framework for tracking and addressing issues in Web-based applications.

Bug Tracking Software

Unfortunately, software has bugs. Even more unfortunately, not every development team has adequately addressed how they are going to keep track of what bugs have been reported and who is responsible for fixing them.

Some teams barely use project management software at all, relying on email and post-it notes, which is highly inefficient and frustrating for everyone involved. Other teams use project or task management systems that are not specifically geared for software development and bug tracking. This is better than nothing, but there are specific needs that don't get addressed this way, such as tying bug introduction and resolution to specific versions or releases.

It is best to use bug tracking software that is designed by developers to be used by developers for this specific purpose.

Mantis Bug Tracker

Mantis BT is a bug tracking software system built in PHP. It is Open Source, and it was made by a development team that needed bug tracking software to use in their own development of other software applications. The developers actually use the software themselves.

Because Mantis has its origins in actual, real-world use, and the needs of a development team dealing with how to track software bugs, it has a number of important and valuable features.

Multiple Report mechanisms

A bug tracking system can only track bugs it knows about, so it's important for there to be many easy ways to get bug reports into the database. Mantis includes:

Mantis BT web interface
This is the "normal" way to add bug reports, by logging in online.

Mantis Touch Mobile app
Users can log in from their phones or other devices and reports bugs on the go.

A plugin module allows for bugs to be automatically generated from email sent to a specific address.

This allows for programmers to build custom bug entry features to applications and other processes. Examples include reporting on issues generated in a nightly build process, or reporting bugs from a form on a customer-facing website.

Monitoring and Notifications

Mantis Bug Tracker helps keep everyone informed of new bugs, updates, and resolutions through customizable email alerts and other notification mechanisms.


Mantis BT is highly configurable, allowing you to adapt it to your workflow, instead of having to adapt your workflow to it. Examples of available customizations include:

Status Ordering
Set up custom statuses, rename statuses, and define the order that statuses occur in.

Status Transitioning and Thresholds
Automatically change project status when a certain set of triggers occur, or specify a minimum set of criteria for allowing status changes.

Edit notification and alert texts, and specify when they are triggered and to whom they are sent.

Custom data, fields, and labels
Specify custom data fields on a project, add default entries for any fields, and change field name labels. Additionally, you can require that certain fields are filled out, or specify valid data ranges before allowing the user to proceed through a form. Fields can also be linked, so that data in one field affects data in another (such as a number field that is a sum of other fields).

Developers can code customized functions to be triggered by any number of Mantis features, allowing for the creation of sophisticated plugins and integrations.

All customizations can be implemented on a project-by-project basis, or enabled globally.

Software Development Life Cycle

MantisBT supports the tracking of bugs within the context of the complete Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), with features including:

Versioning and Change Log
Bug reports can be tied to specific versions of a project, and resolution can be tied to a specific release or version number. Automatic change logs can be generated to show what each release actually fixed.

Road Maps and Scheduling
Bug resolution can be scheduled and planned for specific future releases, and road maps automatically generated and published, showing what each future release is expected to include.

Time Tracking
Mantis can be used to report both work time estimates and actual work time elapsed.

Mantis Web Hosting

Most web hosts support the basic requirements of Mantis Bug Tracker:

  • PHP 5.2+
  • MySQL 4.0+ or PostgrSQL 8.0+ (other DBs also supported)
  • Appache 2.2.x

Additionally, since Mantis is used to store such vitally important information, it's a good idea to make sure you have a well-functioning database back up system.

Installing Mantis yourself is not difficult. A number of specific Linux distributions are available, as well as install packages for Windows and Mac.

To make things even easier, a number of web hosts offer one-click installation of Mantis BT through their admin control panel.

Mantis Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the advantages of using MantisBT?

    When compared to other bug tracking software, there are multiple benefits of MantisBT. These include: Support from most major web hosts; variety of add-ons, including but not limited to MantisTouch; technical support, provided both by your hosting company as well as MantisBT; automated system, giving you the opportunity to focus on your business and forget about the worries associated with pinpointing and fixing bugs.

  • How much does MantisBT cost?

    Unlike some other bug tracking software, MantisBT is a free and open source solution. It is built by software developers who found a personal need for reliable bug tracking software, without the high cost.

  • How long has MantisBT been around?

    Nobody wants to be the first person using a new application. With MantisBT, this is never a concern, thanks to the fact that its development began in 2000. It was not until 2006 that version 1.0.0 was released, which shows just how much time and effort was put into developing the perfect product.

  • How many versions of MantisBT are available?

    Depending on your hosting company and what you are comfortable with, you may not be using the most up to date version of MantisBT. The first version was released to the public in February 2006. After that, the next releases were made in December 2007 and November 2008. By February 2010, version 1.2.0 was released, bringing a variety of additional features to market. Knowing that the MantisBT development team is always making updates is one of the reasons why the program has remained popular.

  • What are some of the most overlooked features of MantisBT?

    It is easy to overlook the long list of features, especially as you focus on those that are most popular. MantisBT can support all of the following: Audit trails to any changes made, full text search, changelogs, roadmaps, revision control of notes and text fields, sponsorship of issues, and Wiki documentation integration for MediaWiki, DokuWiki, TWiki, XWiki, and WikkaWiki.

  • What development languages are used?

    This is an important question from a hosting perspective, as you must choose a company that provides the appropriate support. MantisBT is written primarily in PHP while using SQL to connect with databases. On the web-based side of things, MantisBT is written in HTML and styled with CSS. 

  • Does MantisBT provide its own support if issues or questions arise?

    This is one of the primary benefits of MantisBT, as users are not forced to figure out technical concerns on their own. They can turn to the development team for assistance, including: Access to documentation, forums, ability to report issues, and subscribe to mailing lists for the latest updates.

  • Who benefits most from using MantisBT?

    Anybody can use MantisBT, but there are some groups that benefit more than others. It is primarily for organizations that rely on a centralized system as a means of tracking website and software bugs.

    Individual webmasters use MantisBT, as well as organizations ranging from small and medium sized businesses to large multi-national corporations. Nobody wants to find that a bug is impacting website performance. This makes the program useful for almost anybody.

  • Does MantisBT solve problems that other similar programs miss?

    MantisBT is similar to many other bug tracking programs, but sets itself apart with a system that reliably tracks bugs while also providing users with other features, such as project tracking and communication tools.

  • Is it a challenge to become familiar with the bug reporting feature?

    Since this feature is the heart of MantisBT, it is important that the user interface is simple to use and understand. By default, you are presented with a basic bug reporting form. The option to switch to an advanced report exists. This allows the user to add fields for operating system, product version, and several other categories. Custom fields can also be added.

  • Are you required to customize the application to begin?

    MantisBT can be used the way it is “out of the box.” This makes it a top choice for those who are unfamiliar with this type of application and how to customize it to suit their needs.

    In its most basic form, MantisBT is anything but “fashionable,” but it does provide what users want: features, reliability, and the option to customize when you are comfortable doing so.

  • Are email notifications available?

    Email notifications are a big part of keeping your team and/or clients current with bugs, updates, comments, questions, and concerns. With a built-in email notification system, users can stay in touch with any and every member of their team in a secure environment.

  • Is MantisBT compatible with commonly used web browsers and servers?

    MantisBT understands the ever-changing browsing experience, which is why the program is compatible with IE 7+, Safari, Opera, Chrome, and FireFox.

    On the server side, it is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

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