Enterprise Linux Log

Jan 16 2008   12:46PM GMT

Trac(king) software development

Kutz Profile: Akutz

If you are a software developer, you need Trac and you need it now. There is no other open-source, software management tool more useful to a software project life-cycle than Trac. Straight from the Trac website , Trac is an “enhanced wiki and issue tracking system for software development projects.” But it is so much more than that.


Trac integrates with Subversion repositories to provide a browser view of your code. This is a great feature for when you want to peruse some code in a project without wanting to bring up your IDE. The browser will show diffs, a history and even allow you to compare different revisions so you can see how the code has evolved. To see what I am talking about you can look at Trac’s own browser view.

Timelines, roadmaps, tickets

Trac allows you to see where you’ve been, where you want to go, and allows you to track issues along the way. The timeline feature allows developers to track the history of the project and understand its current status. The roadmap enables administrators to create project milestones. Finally, the powerful tracking system lets developers, administrators and even users create and modify bug reports, or feature requests, as they pertain to the project.


You may have noticed that I began making a distinction between developers, administrators and users. Trac has a very detailed permissions support that enables a Trac administrator to assign rights to specific users and developers at granular levels. Let’s say that you don’t want guest users browsing your code — just take away that permission. Or perhaps you only want registered developers to be able to create new tickets? This is easily accomplished.


Looking at the Trac browser, you cannot deny how absolutely gorgeous the Trac interface is. Not since Audrey Hepburn has anyone or anything epitomized simple elegance the way the Trac project does (maybe Katherine Heigel comes close?) And the interface is fully customizable. My own Trac installation looks nothing like the default install. You can make simple changes such as adding a custom banner image or completely redesigning the entire look and feel of the site through the wonderful Genshi templating system.


One of the most appealing aspects of the Trac project is the fact that it is not managed or developed behind closed doors. In fact, the development community is incredibly open and welcoming to ideas. Most of the time, any of the lead developers (osimons, aat, coderanger) can be found on the Trac IRC channel (freenet#trac), and they are more than happy to help you.

Stay on Trac

Trac is a superb example of what can be accomplished when developers see a need and fill it. That being said, the excellent product that is Edgewall should not be overlooked either. Trac provides almost every possible feature you could want in a software development management system, and it does so with sheer elegance.

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