Taking command of issue triage

JUL 06, 2011

By Jason Robbins, Google Project Hosting Team

Faster is better, especially for tedious tasks. Even though software development can be creative and exciting, it certainly has its share of tedious tasks. For example, that open source application library you developed that got users so excited? Well, now it is generating dozens of defect reports and enhancement requests for you and your teammates to sift through. Is your team growing? Are you planning a major release? Is it time to finally clean up obsolete issues? It’s awesome to be organized, but keeping up with all your issues can become tedious: click, click, click, click, click.

Today we’re launching a new issue tracking feature that allows quick edits in the issue preview window. It’s a happy medium between viewing one issue in detail and doing a bulk edit. Unlike the familiar forms-based UX that we normally use, quick edits are more command-like, keyboard-oriented, and emphasize the ability to repeat recent commands.

Previewing issues works about 40% faster than our normal issue detail page, so you can skim fast enough to achieve oneness with your backlog, then punch in some quick edits to show it who’s boss. When you’re in the zone, that click, click, click is replaced with something more like h, e, j, j, e, j, j, 2, e, j, e, j, j, j, 1, e, done! Here’s your cheat sheet:

Keystroke Action
hToggle the issue preview window.
j or kSelect the next or previous issue.
f, n, p, lScroll to the first, next, previous, or last comment in an issue.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5Select a recent command. If you modify the command or comment, it will be stored in that numbered slot for later reuse.
mFocus on the command text field.
eExecute the command and show the issue comment that it generated.

Not ready to go all-keyboard? Just turn on the user preference for issue preview when mousing. Then, you can do your most common and repetitive issue edits by just hovering over an ID number and clicking the Execute button.

Jason Robbins founded the ArgoUML and ReadySET open source projects as a result of his research into the cognitive challenges of software engineering tool UIs. He’s worked on Google Project Hosting since 2005. Over the years he’s been a contestant, coach, and judge for the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor