Friday, September 04, 2009

YouTRACK: a bug tracker for the vim-ish?

I got an email yesterday from jetbrains, notifying me that their internal bugtracker YouTRACK has gone beta. "Try it out!", they tell me. Okay, I like jetbrains stuff, so I bit. I'm posting here about it because it kind of reminds me of my learning process with VIM. Back when I first started using VIM I remember that I suffered through the initial arcana: I couldn't do anything at first (it was hard), then I began to cotton on to the general concept (but I couldn't really do it), at last I could do things fast, and finally I wondered why it didn't have all those kitchen sink features other products have. Doesn't this sound sooo reminicent of using VIM?

If you have ever used VIM you probably remember struggling just to frickin...TYPE. Type anything at all. And then once you could actually do that, well - what about saving and exiting? Escape? :wq? Ahh...those first few baby steps. YouTrack totally hit me like that. Of course they provide GUI menus for everything but me being a VIMish user, I wasn't interested in the easy/slow way. I had to figure out how to do everything by hot-key only. After all, the speed what supposedly sets this bugtracker apart. The installation part was easy. Download the WAR, stick it in tomcat, and fire it up. Bam. Its up and running. Copy and paste the demo license from their website and I'm good to go until December 2nd (after which point I'll have to buy a commercial license if I actually like the thing? How much?? Who knows...we'll see).

I setup a couple small projects I'm currently working on (too small for a bug tracker - or rather, too small to be worth the trouble). First impression: interesting. There is a search window with type-ahead keywords that appear as you go. How do I make a new bug? Ah. A hotkey (and by mouse of course, but I'm ignoring that as I said).

I easily entered a couple bugs and a couple projects in the system. I'm working on a project and I want to pull up all the bugs, how do I do that? It takes me a couple minutes stumbling around with the search window to figure out what the syntax is "project: AA" - completion. Nice. So there were are - a couple bugs. How do I get from searching to modifying bugs? Durn durn durn I stumble on this for 20 minutes.

Ahah! ESCAPE! Of course. Wouldn't you know it would be the same key that is such a stumbling block in VIM too. Go figure. Once I figure that out, oh my god. Its the frickin easiest thing to add comments and tag bugs. A breeze. Very snappy. I'm loving that. I can now see myself setting up projects and adding bugs for trivial little projects in no time. Nice. Perhaps even todo lists in general. Quick modification of tab names, batch updates, etc. Power.

Of course, now that I'm enlightened, I have questions. Lots of questions. Kitchen sink type questions. Can I use external java/javascript to make mashups (say burn down charts, remotely add bugs say via my own applications, etc). Whats the best practice for agile delevelopment say? Integrate with other back end bug trackers like bugzilla or trac? As I keep playing with it over the next few weeks I'm sure I'll have more questions and comments. But so far I like it a lot. Just wish I knew what I'm gonna have to pay for the thing once they go commercial with it a few months down the road (ie, once I'm totally addicted).