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Triaging Bugs

You don’t have to be a programmer to contribute to the Chromium project. There are always new bugs coming in, and those bugs need to be clarified, confirmed, and routed to the right people before process of getting them fixed can even begin.

If you are interested in helping with this important part of the project, here are a few ways you can get started. Everything listed here except the parts in italics and the "Categorizing bugs" section is something anyone can jump in and start doing. Once you have been triaging for a while, you may want to consider getting permissions to edit bugs so that you can do even more.

Finding duplicates

Many of the bugs that are filed are duplicates of existing bugs. Look through the unconfirmed bugs for any that are already filed.
  • If you can edit bugs: Close the new bug as a duplicate of the existing bug. If there are several new duplicates of each other with no established bug, use the one with the most information.
  • If you can’t edit bugs, leave a comment with the number of the bug it’s a duplicate of. Be sure to say “bug 12345” or “issue 12345” instead of just the number, so the bug system will make it a link.
The more you triage bugs, the more duplicates you will recognize immediately. If you suspect something might be a duplicate but aren’t sure (such as with a feature request that seems likely to have been made before), search for as many of the variants of the key words in the bug as you can think of. Be sure to search “All issues”, not the default of “Open issues” so that you can find WontFixed bugs and other duplicates.

Clarifying and/or reproducing bugs

Knowing how to reproduce a bug is the first step toward fixing it. The bug template encourages people to provide steps to reproduce a bug, but sometimes the steps are missing, unclear, or just don’t work for everyone. Note that if something is clearly a feature request, rather than a bug report, you should skip this step.

Look through the unconfirmed bugs for reports that nobody has tried to reproduce.
  • If you can reproduce the bug:
    • Leave a comment saying so, and include your Chromium version and OS.
    • If the steps were unclear, it’s helpful to leave more detailed steps.
    • If you weren’t testing with the latest version of Chromium, try there, and see if it’s still reproducible, and add that information to your comment as well.
    • If the bug is with web content, and you have access to browsers that the reporter didn’t test, try with those browsers and report your results.
    • If you can edit bugs, and have tried to make sure that it’s not a duplicate, change it from Unconfirmed to Untriaged.
  • If you feel that the steps were clear but you couldn’t reproduce the bug:
    • Leave a comment saying that you couldn’t reproduce it, including your Chromium version and OS.
      • Note: If you are using an older version of Chromium than the reporter, you should do this only if you can reproduce it with a newer version (indicating a regression).
    • If you were using a different version of Chromium, and have access to the version it was reported with, try with that version.
    • If the reporter doesn’t say what version they are using, ask for that information. If the bug is related to OS-specific code (browser chrome, plugins, etc.), ask for their OS if it’s not in the report.
    • If there is any other clarifying information that you think would help, ask for that.
  • If the steps and/or results are missing or unclear, so that you can’t tell either what the bug is, or how to reproduce it:
    • Ask for details. Be specific about what you need to know, as people often leave out steps without realizing it because something is obvious to them.
    • If it would be helpful, ask for a screenshot of the bug.
    • If you can edit bugs: Add the Needs-Feedback label.

Cleaning up old bugs

While it’s most important to get new bugs triaged, as they are most likely to be relevant, there are also a number of old bugs that nobody has had time to follow up on. It can be helpful to go through old unconfirmed bugs to weed out the ones that aren’t relevant any more. All the advice above applies, but there are a few extra things to consider with old bugs:
  • If you can’t reproduce the bug, ask the user if they can still reproduce the bug with a current version of Chromium.
  • For feature requests, if the request is about feature that has changed enough that the request no longer applies, add a comment saying so.
    • If you can edit bugs: Close the bug as WontFix (which we use for obsolete bugs)
  • If the bug doesn’t contain enough information to be confirmed and someone has asked for clarifying information that was never provided, politely ask again for that information.
    • If you can edit bugs:
      • If the bug has been waiting for information for over a month, and there has already been at least one reminder, add a comment saying that the bug is being closed due to lack of response and that a new bug should be filed with the requested information if it’s still reproducible, then close the bug as WontFix.
      • Otherwise, add the Needs-Feedback label if it’s not already there.

Creating reduced test cases

For bugs that are about compatibility with specific sites, creating a reduced test case is extremely helpful. If you are familiar with HTML, CSS, and/or Javascript, this is a great way to use your skills to help improve Chromium.

Look through the Compat bugs for issues that haven’t already been tracked down to a specific problem—the Needs-Reduction label is helpful in finding these, but it doesn’t always get added. Once you can reproduce a problem, try to isolate exactly what in the HTML/CSS/JavaScript/etc. is responsible for the failure.
  • If the problem is that the site is doing something wrong:
    • Explain in detail what is causing the problem.
    • Suggest that the bug reporter contact the site to let them know about the problem.
    • If you can edit bugs: Add the Needs-Evangelism label.
  • If the problem is due to a bug in Chromium:
    • Explain in detail what is isn’t working right.
    • If possible, attach a minimal test case that demonstrates the underlying bug.
    • If possible, test with Safari as well to see if the bug happens there, and report your results
    • If you can edit bugs: change the component field to Blink. If its status is Unconfirmed, change it to Untriaged.

Categorizing bugs

Once you can edit bugs, giving bugs the correct labels helps them move through the triage process faster. There are a lot of labels, here are the most important for incoming bugs:
  • If the bug has no Components, please assign it to a bucket:
    • Blink == Web Content
    • Internals == Internals (Network stack, plugins, etc...)
    • Platform == Chrome's Developer Platform and Tools (Ext, AppsV2, NaCl, DevTools)
    • UI>Shell == ChromeOS Shell/ Window Manager
    • UI>Browser == Browser
    • OS>Hardware
    • OS>Kernel
    • OS>Systems
    • If the bug/feature is about specific web technology, add the appropriate Blink>* sub component instead.
    • If the bug is about a web site not working correctly, and hasn’t been narrowed down to a specific cause, use Type-Compat, and add Needs-Reduction.
    • Try to find the best match; if it’s borderline, use your best guess.
  • If the bug is about a crash or hang, add the Stability-Crash or Stability-Hang label.
  • If the bug is about a language translation, add the UI>Localization component.
  • If the bug is in an area that tends to be OS-specific (browser chrome, plugins), and the report includes the OS (or you can tell from a screenshot), add the appropriate OS-* label. If there’s no reason to believe the bug is OS-specific, or if it’s a feature request, it’s best not to add an OS label.
Most of the remaining labels are very specialized, and it’s best not to use them unless you know otherwise. Never add or change ReleaseBlock-* or Milestone-* labels.