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For many years, filing a bug with Apple through Radar was a frustrating experience for external developers. It wasn't even that the software was clunky, it was the process, and lack of meaningful communication that made it so infuriating. It was so bad that it's a running joke in the community.

So when WWDC this year brought with it a brand new bug reporting tool, my hopes were high that it wasn't just another new skin on Radar. It had brand new bug numbers, a completely different name, and new apps. It looked promising. Unfortunately it has become clear since June that Feedback Assistant is nothing fundamentally new, and that the processes behind it are just as broken as ever.

It was this tweet that made write about this today, although I could have picked from a huge number of other recent tweets like it. The specific point about being able to re-download attachments isn't the main issue (in fact, it already seems to be fixed). It's the process that I want to talk about.

The message that Apple sends to external developers about bug reporting is loud and clear. We know they want us to file bugs, and we know that it's hard for a problem to get any traction internally without a bug number. As developers, we understand that and ultimately we want to help. But the experience of filing bugs is so poor that even the most diligent of people have given up.

When was the last time you felt like a bug report you made was valued in the responses you received from that team at Apple? The reply in that thread is a particularly bad example, and I'm sure it was someone just having a bad day, but I can't remember the last time a response to a Radar made me feel great about filing it.

If Apple care about this problem, and they definitely should, bug reporting software isn't the problem. It will take organisational change.

What if that team were incentivised differently? What if it felt like they were on our side when we file a bug? We can't advocate internally for our own bugs, but what if it felt like that team was doing that for us, and communicating with us about it? What if the responses from that team were friendly and encouraging, rather than cold and made of boilerplate?

Some aspects of the process will never be able to change of course. For example, it makes perfect sense that internal communication on bugs can't be seen, and that we can't see duplicates, or other people's bugs. I'm also not saying that bugs reported externally should be prioritised over internal ones, it's Apple's software and they should set the priorities.

But if we felt that our feedback and bug reports were being treated with care and respect, I believe the positive effects in the developer community would be huge. Apple's CSAT matters to them, what about some DSAT? πŸ˜€

Dave Verwer

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