QualityCentral sysop guide

By: John Kaster

Abstract: Guidelines for sysops and those who want to become sysops

Back to introductory QualityCentral (QC) user guide.

This document provides overview information and general guidelines for QC sysops. There are two perspectives that are covered in this document: sysops that are community volunteers, and sysops that are Embarcadero employees. If you are a sysop, you can see report #3721 in QC. You can direct comments or suggestions for this guide there. Other discussions about the sysop guide should be in the QualityCentral newsgroup, listed at https://forums.embarcadero.com/index.jspa.

There is already a fair amount of documentation on QualityCentral (QC) available on the QC web site, https://qc.embarcadero.com. For the purpose and history of QC, that would be a good place to start. To sum it up, QC is designed for Embarcadero customers to actually help Embarcadero report, verify, process, and prioritize bugs and feature requests. QC also provides both quantitative and qualitative measures for the issues reported in its repository.

    General Guidelines

Before getting into the details of how to be a QC sysop, you should read these general guidelines. They will help improve the overall QC community process, and information in the QC repository.

  • Do not abuse your sysop privileges. Hopefully, there will never be cause to demote someone who has been promoted to sysop, but if a sysop is behaving in a manner that violates our newsgroup etiquette or guidelines they will definitely be demoted, and any access they might have to our internal systems will also be revoked.
  • Take an oldest first approach when possible. The report posted 3 months ago needs your attention a lot more than the one posted 3 hours ago. This will increase overall QC user satisfaction.
  • Educate all QC users. When you process a report, take the time to explain your actions. This will also help prevent the "how dare you?" reaction if your resolution is not what the user wants.
  • Avoid "cherry picking" the easy reports. Instead, focus your limited time on picking the more complex ones, particularly those in "niche" areas in which you are well versed.
  • Rate every report you touch. If you comment then rate it. If you open it, rate it a 4 or 5. If you close it because it is a poor report, rate it a 1. The more ratings QC reports have, the more examples QC users will have to learn from, and the better the quality of the data in the repository will be.
  • Comment on reports you rate. Given the time that it takes to evaluate a bug, the extra seconds to post the comment are well worth it. The comments serve several purposes:
    • Users can see that opened bugs are confirmed bugs (i.e. it makes the sysop role more transparent to users)
    • Names bring credibility to what would otherwise be a completely anonymous rating.
    • It provides a source for new sysops (which will always be needed), so hopefully others will follow your lead
    • It deals with the problem of bugs reported in previous versions not being addressed under the assumption that they are "old" and therefore not relevant.

    Downloading the QC Windows client

The Windows client is currently the only client that surfaces all QC sysop functionality. The Web client supports some sysop functions, but if you are going to be a QC sysop, you should use the Windows client. Go to https://qc.embarcadero.com and click on the Windows client download link. An EDN membership account is required to download and use QC. If you attempt to download the QC Windows client without an EDN member cookie set in your browser, you will automatically be redirected to log in to EDN. If you are not currently an EDN member, you will have an opportunity at that time to create your membership account. You can choose whatever valid email address you want. Email addresses are not published on EDN or in QC at this time. There is also an option to set your anonymity level for your EDN membership in your membership account.

Those options are:

  1. Never publish my email address
  2. Broker all communications so I can decide whether to reply directly to someone
  3. Allow others to email me directly

Option 2 (brokering) is what QC will always be using. This feature is not in place yet, but it is planned for 2004.

    Becoming a sysop

EDN members can become sysops by being active in QualityCentral, and earning the respect and attention of existing QC sysops. If you contribute postively to the QC community process, chances are an existing sysop will notice this and promote you. If you want to be a sysop and haven't been promoted yet, post a request to the QC newsgroup. Existing sysops can then search for your comments and reports, and promote you if they so choose. Before you ask to be promoted, you should ask yourself whether you've given the sysops reasons to approve you. This could include participation in QC, helping refine QC reports in the newsgroups, or well-crafted reports.

Embarcadero employees should let your Developer Support/QA/R&D manager know the email address you used to register for QC, and they can promote you to the appropriate sysop level. Managers are Sysop 4, so they can promote others to the level right below theirs. Engineering staff is usually Sysop 3.

Alternatively, if you already have a user account for Embarcadero's internal bug tracking system, you can use the Windows QC client to enter that information under View | Options | Internal Setup. Then hit the "Apply" button. If your user information is active, you will automatically become Sysop Level 2 for QualityCentral.

    QC user levels

Access rights are dictated by your QC user level. There are five user levels in QC.

    Level 0

Level 0 is the starting level for all QC users. All users can do things like:

  • Create/edit their own reports
  • Comment on a report
  • Rate a report
  • Vote on a report
  • Submit workarounds for a report
  • Withdraw their own reports
  • Search
  • Track bugs

    Level 1

User levels are additive, so level 1 users can do everything level 0 users can. In addition, Level 1 users (Sysop 1) can:

  • approve workarounds
  • moderate comments
  • escalate (needs attention)
  • re-categorize

    Level 2

Sysop 2 can:

  • verify bugs
  • mark for migration to official status
  • promote up to sysop level 1

    Level 3

Sysop 3 can:

  • push from "official" to QC
  • promote up to sysop level 2

    Level 4

Sysop 4 is a special level used to promote other people to Sysop 3. You can only promote people to one level below your level, so level 4 is needed for Embarcadero managers to promote engineers to the appropriate level.

    Configuring QC

When you are a sysop, you will see the Sysop menu automatically appear in the QC GUI client when you log in. However, there is one more step you will need to take to be able to link QC reports to internal reports.

Select View|Options and select the Internal tab. Enter your user name and password for Embarcadero's internal bug tracking system and press the Apply button. Now, whatever rights you have for the internal system will be available when you want to link QC reports to internal reports.

    What bugs should Embarcadero staff look at?

Under the sysop menu, there are two menu options Embarcadero staff should use to select bugs to look at:

  • Get needs attention is used by Sysop 1, to mark a bug as something a Sysop 2 and above should look at for potentially marking as an officially verified bug.
  • Get pending Raid is used by Sysops who do not have write access to our internal system. If the name of our internal system changes, this title will of course change.

QC has volunteer sysops from the community who review bugs and verify them. Embarcadero personnel should look at the reports that come up with Get Pending Raid or Get Needs Attention in the sysop menu. If a Embarcadero employee wanted to look at reports that are still classified as Reported because they are highly rated, that is of course allowed but not required. That task is specifically intended for the volunteer sysops. Embarcadero participation would be welcome, but will not be required.

    Making a bug official

There are two options in the QC client for making a bug official. Again, although both these options refer to "Raid", you can replace that with whatever name Embarcadero's internal system will be called.

    In Raid

Use this option when a QC report is the same as a report that already exists in Embarcadero's internal system. If you select this menu item, a dialog will be displayed that allows you to enter the internal tracking number.

    Promote to Raid

Use this option when a new report should be created in the internal system. If you press the hot key or select this menu option, this item will be entered in the internal system with a status of either "Needs Review" or "Open", depending on your user level for the internal system. There is no confirmation dialog for this option, other than the status of the report changing in your QC client.

When a report is promoted to Raid, the description field looks like this:

[QC Short Description]

Short description here ...

[QC Description]

Long description here ...

QC #xxxx

    Updating QualityCentral from the internal system

Sysop level 3 and above can now update QualityCentral with changes that are made to QC reports that are linked to RAID reports. There is a sysop menu item called "Pull Raid Status" in the Windows client. The update dialog allows you to select a project, give a maximum verified version for RAID reports, and a resolved in build # for QC. After filling in the appropriate values, click OK. QC will pull the reports and workarounds, updating the linked QC reports, then display a message box with all the QC items that were updated.

Before the end of Q1 2004, the update logic between QualityCentral and Raid will be completed. When it is completed, any bug that has only been reported in the internal system can be marked for publication in QualityCentral by setting its "published" flag to True. The next time the update batch is run, that bug will then be published in QualityCentral, and the link to the QC# will be assigned to the REFNO for Raid.

    Sysop menu options

There are some additional sysop menu options that are described in this section.

    Change status

Change the status of a report. You can set resolutions, provide comments, etc.

    Promote user to sysop

Carefully consider the actions of a user before promoting them. By doing so, you are putting your reputation on the line. This menu option also permits demotion of QC sysop levels -- you can demote anyone with a level lower than your own. (This is a good way to repair a mistaken promotion!)

There are two ways to locate a user to promote. Either enter the email address of the person you want to promote and click the Lookup from email button, or look them up from the current report. Once you find their information, their current level will be displayed, and you can set it to a number from 0 to your level - 1.

    Mark as duplicate

You mark the secondary report with the master's report id. The "master" is the report that you feel is clearer. The QC GUI client supports navigating directly to the master record by clicking on the label that says "Duplicate of <#>".

    Accept Workarounds

Multiple workarounds can be submitted for a report. There is usually one best workaround. This is the menu option that allows you to select the best workaround.

    Delete report

If comments, ratings, or workarounds have been submitted for a report, the user who created the report cannot delete it because we don't want to discard work others have done on a given report. They can edit it, or withdraw it if it was a bad report. However, there might be times when a report should be deleted even when it has comments, ratings or workarounds. That's what this sysop menu option does.

    Report needs attention

This escalates a report to a higher level sysop for processing. A comment explaining why the report is escalated is required.

    Some Sysop FAQs

    If the bug is not reproducible - but steps are clear - should it be added to RAID?


    If a bug is not reproducible, should the Embarcadero employee reviewing it close it in QC?

If you find one that is not reproducible, set its status so. It will automatically be closed until the description and/or steps are updated. Then it will automatically go back to "reported"

    If the bug is not stated in a testable way, should the Embarcadero employee just close it?

No. Let the community help the user make the report better.

    Should submitters be notified that their bug was "rejected" and not given further consideration?

QC provides the opportunity to give all necessary feedback when the status is set for the report. Consider this an opportunity to help everyone learn how to make their reports better. Comments can be part of the resolution entry. Furthermore, when email notification is implemented, the user will be able to receive meaningful information that will help them get their bug re-evaluated.

    Should Feature requests be promoted?

As a sysop, you should ask yourself the following questions before promoting a feature request:

  • Is the request clearly written and easy to understand?
  • Does the report provide a clear definition and scope of the feature requested?
  • Does the topic of the report address a current weakness in the product to which it is attached?
  • Is it a feature you would like Embarcadero to spend resources implementing?

If you can answer "Yes" to at least 3 of these questions, then promote it. Please also keep in mind that spurious promotion of feature requests is a good way to get demoted.

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