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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.
- Web API
- 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.