So I was looking for alternatives to the Mantis issue/bug tracking system. I am pretty much fed up with its lackluster usability. Simple things take several clicks. There is no ajax anywhere. You are redirected to pages just to be told that an operation completed (ie, change a user profile), and then you are forced to click on a link to proceed. You are then redirected to an irrelevant page (usually). Very unusable, very amateur design. Functionally, though, it has what you need in an issue tracker, so I suppose people do not mind clicking like crazy because in the end you can get your job done.
Anyway, I was looking for alternatives to Mantis. I ran into eTraxis, and it sure does look good, judging from the three screenshots their site provides, along with the vague feature list to go along with it (why the fuck bother to list “Advanced filters” as a feature? That tells me nothing about the filters, other than they are not trivial. Whood-de-freekin’ do. Every feature I implement is “advanced” too).
Suffice it to say, from the three screenshots (because the feature list was so damn useless) I gathered that this could be a product I could use, and recommend to my clients when they need an issue tracker to have on their own. I needed to try it out.
There is a “Demo” link on the site, which seemed to be exactly what I wanted: Let me try it out quickly, let me be wowed by the interface and usability.
No dice. For the eTraxis people, it seemed to be a better idea that you download a 50MB package with bynaries for XAMPP so that you can try the thing in your own damned machine. I’m sure on paper it seems like a good idea: Why have an instance running on our site that everyone is messing with? Why not just have everyone download a copy of the thing, and run it on their own computer? They could do whatever they want, and it would be lag free on top of it!
Well, of course, the thing does not work. Here is what I get when I try to run the server on my own Windows 7 x64 development machine:
“xampp” is not started is the only feedback I get. All you see above is all the feedback I got. I am expected to figure out why it did not start, since these brainiacs seem to think error descriptions are for pussies. Where would I start to look for the cause and explanation of the error? Apache on Windows is an afterthought, so I would not expect debugging this would be as easy as if the error had occurred on Linux.
Ok, so I am a computer programmer, and I have a bunch of virtual machines lying around that I use for testing (hint to the xampp/eTraxis people: You might want to give testing a try one of these days). What more typical an O/S to run software on is there than a 32-bit US English version of Window XP? So I restore my last snapshot, on that has absolutely nothing on it than a completely blank, patched up version of XP 32 bit.
Things only improved marginally:
So it still fails, but now it tells me the name of the executable it tried to run.
By this time I am done with this. I don’t care why it did not work. All I know is that the xampp thing sis not run even in the most plain-vanilla, unmodified Windows version you could have. I wonder if anyone has ever been able to run this demo. Anyway, if this is how the eTraxis demo works, then imagine the quality of the product itself.
Open source people have got to learn to close the sale. They do all of these thousands of hours of work into a project, and then drop the ball at the 99.99% mark, thinking that’s enough. A sale is a sale. Even if your price is $0, you still have to get people to buy into your product.
Bottom line: I did not try out eTraxis. I did not even consider switching to it. I just wasted some time with it, and I am pissed off, so I am writing an entry about it. Open source is its own worst enemy.