I recently found out that I was one of the MVPs of the year for our group. Wow what an honor!! Given the caliber of MVPs one cannot help but be humbled by this. Unfortunately other obligations prevent me from attending the ceremony to receive the award. I found out later that one of the reasons was that I was supposedly the top bug reporter on VS 2012 for US dev MVPs. I reported 27 issues and 13 were actually resolved. This got me to thinking about Connect and how Microsoft has historically used it.
Historically when an issue was reported someone at Microsoft would try to replicate the issue. If they could then they would escalate it to the team and you’d receive some feedback. At that point the issue would either be fixed or, more likely, closed without reason. More recently Microsoft has started to close items with short descriptions like ‘by design’ or ‘won’t fix’. The one that drives me mad though is ‘we have to evaluate the priority of each item reported against our schedule and this issue is not sufficiently important. We will review it in the future’. Closed. The problem is that I’m not convinced they every do “review it in the future”. Even worse is that once an item is closed you cannot do anything with it anymore.
If, as happened recently to me, the folks at MS failed to grasp the issue you were reporting and closed the item then there is no way to tell them they messed up. Recently I reported an issue to Microsoft about the behavior of inline tasks for MSBuild (https://connect.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/feedback/details/768289/msbuild-path-used-for-inline-task-reference-is-not-honored). The issue is that an inline task can reference an assembly using a path. At compile time this is fine but at runtime the assembly path is not honored so unless you copy the assembly to the same location as the task then it will fail to the find the assembly. Now I understand the reasoning behind why it would fail. I also know that I’m not the only one who has seen this issue. It has been reported on multiple blogs over the years.
Somehow the folks looking at the issue got caught up with what the sample code was trying to do rather than what the actual bug was and reported that I should be using some built in task instead. How does that in any way relate to my problem? I don’t know but the item was closed anyway. Without starting a new item I cannot recover this closed item. Sure I left a follow up comment about it but the item is still closed, the bug still exists and I doubt it will ever get resolved. And I’d like to think that as a contributor to the community that my items get a least a little more attention than the general user but it wouldn’t appear so in Connect. If MS really wants us to report bugs and Connect is the tool to do so then the entire system needs to evolve into a more full featured issue tracking system where we can alert MS to issues that may have been closed incorrectly. Even more important issues that “may be resolved in a future release” shouldn’t be closed but deferred so we know that at least they are under consideration. Right now Closed means it’s fixed, it’s by design, it cannot be repro or it ain’t going to be fixed.
Historically MS has taken some flax from the community about the uselessness of Connect. With VS2012 they seem to have upped their game and started taking feedback more seriously but there is still much work to be done. There has to be more insight into where an item is in the process, policies for getting items reevaluated and a better system for identifying items that are closed or deferred. Perhaps the User Voice site will take over bugs as well. Right now it is more for suggestions. Time will tell. Having 50% of my reported items resolved indicates that Connect is starting to work, at least for me, but it has to work for everybody or else it isn’t going to be used.
Our industry is plagued by large egos. I try to keep mine in check (except around a few people who I know will take me for who I am, not what I’ve done). Where I work we have a motto “If you’re truly good you don’t have to say anything”. What that means is that bragging about being an MVP, writing a book, publishing a popular framework or whatever else gets you nowhere. If you’re truly good your works will speak for themselves. As such I will quietly place my plaque next to my MVP awards and move on. But recently one of our team members won both the Chili Cookoff contest and the Employee of the Year award in the span of two weeks. They proudly carried their awards the next few days to all their meetings. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll carry mine to a couple of meetings. If you’re truly good you don’t have to say anything but awards don’t talk do they :}