[Scribus] bug severity

Marc Sabatella marc
Sat Nov 10 18:37:28 CET 2007

I've reported a couple of bugs lately, and am wondering if there are 
standards regarding the "severity" field.  I know everyone always thinks the 
bugs that affect *them* are more serious than others might think, and I 
don't take it *personally* that one of my reports was downgraded in 
severity.  But this does suggest that if there are standards for determining 
severity, it would be great if they were public and perhaps open for 
critique.  And if there are not, I think there should be.

The report that prompt my question regards registration marks in 1.3.4. 
Yes, I know, it's not a stable release, and bugs won't be fixed.  I've 
already worked around the bug by creating my own marks using the polygon and 
line drawing facilities and defining a registration black color manually. 
The problem I reported is that the registration marks inserted on either 
side of a document by 1.3.4 using the PDF pre-press option are too high by 
about 4.5mm (presumably, this is related to the amount of space added to the 
document to accomodate the marks).  The result is that I had a document that 
looked perfect on screen, and the PDF looked fine if you didn't get out a 
ruler and measure to discover the registration marks were off center.  But 
when my printer sent me my proofs, everything had slid downward by 4.5mm on 
the page.  Meaning a design that should have been centered on the page 
wasn't, objects toward the bottom of the page were pushed into the bleed 
area, and the bleed would have failed at the top of the document.  The print 
job would have been ruined.  Again, the problem was caught and fixed in 
time, and I do accept that this is development-quality code, not intended 
for production use, so I certainly am not writing to vent about the problem 
itself.  Only to try to understand how the severity of this sort of problem 
is supposed to be rated.

When I was in the software business, we had a system of ranking bugs in 
which we had reasonably objective criteria that could be applied to allow 
most people to agree to a large extent on the severity of any bug.  In the 
case at hand, the most relevant of the criteria that would have been used is 
that the bug causes the program to "silently produce incorrect results". 
That is, no error messages or crashes to let the user know unequivocably 
that a problem had occurred.  Also, the nature of the incorrect results were 
such that it is not "obvious" on inspection that the results were not in 
fact correct.  And yet, an attempt to use the output would - potentially 
only after incurring substantial cost - have ultimately proved entirely 

In our rating scheme, this would have been the one of the worst categories 
of error, just below most errors that "silently destroy user data".  It 
would have rated worse than many program crashes, because the latter, while 
they do destroy data created since the last save, are not silent - the user 
knows he needs to address the problem, and assuming that the problem is 
sporadic or that a workaround exists, he is still able to achieve the 
desired result.  The extent to which a "silently produces incorrect results" 
error might be worse than a "non-silently destroys user data" bug would 
depend, of course, on just how incorrect the results produced would be in 
the former case, how much data would potentially be lost in the latter, and 
also the likelihood of either occurring.  A bug that silently causes an 
extra 0.5mm of extra space to be inserted after every occurrence of the word 
"Fred" is obviously not as severe as one that causes an entire page to be 
printed off-center by an amount larger than the bleed area.  A crash that 
occurs only when using some very specific sequence of operations and whose 
only effect is to cause you lose the work you did since last save, is not as 
severe as a crash that occurs every time you use a feature that modifies a 
users' input file if the crash leads to the file being rendered corrupt and 
unusable.  So of course, there *is* still plenty of room for subjectivity. 
But having standards in place really helped.  Not that we relied on users to 
assess the severity of their own bugs accurately.  They would, still think 
the bugs that affected *them* were worse than they might actually have been. 
But it allowed engineers to reclassify bugs in a way that gave them a 
meaningful priority.

So, is there anything like this for Scribus?

Marc Sabatella
marc at outsideshore.com

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