Trac - first impressions

Max Bowsher maxb1 at
Wed Feb 1 14:53:16 CST 2006

Hash: SHA1

Here are my first 24-hour impressions of Trac, and specifically it's
application to the svnbook project:

Wiki - We currently have MoinMoin.
Comparing the Trac Wiki:
Syntax: similar to MoinMoin.
Features: inferior to MoinMoin.
Visual attractiveness: arguably roughly equal to MoinMoin.
Speed: Approximately equal to MoinMoin, possibly slightly faster.

Conclusion: Moinmoin is undeniably more featureful... though, we haven't
made very much use of those features so far.

Source Browser - We currently have ViewVC.
Comparing the Trac Browser:
Speed: Approximately equal.
Features: Trac Browser is slighly more featureful than ViewVC, since it
is specifically designed for Subversion, and doesn't need to expend any
effort supporting CVS - e.g. it shows svn properties, and shows
copy/move events more clearly than ViewVC.
Visual attractiveness: Trac has a 'smoother' look.

Conclusion: Much as I dislike voting against Red-Bean software, I think
Trac Browser edges out ViewVC.

Tickets - We currently have Bugzilla.
Comparing the Trac Ticket system:
Speed: Approximately equal to Bugzilla, possibly slightly faster.
Features: Bugzilla is much more mature - Trac lacks:
 * change multiple tickets at once
 * security features
 * per-user email preferences
 * ability to combine description/comments search criteria with
   ticket status criteria
 * handling of ticket CCs as a list of items - instead, the CC field is
   a comma-separated string - a bit unwieldy
 It does have something Bugzilla does not, though:
 The description (the initial submission free text field) is editable,
 so there is somewhere to update as a bug develops, rather than the text
 of a bug being append-only.
Visual attractiveness: Trac's nicer, though the latest stable release of
Bugzilla is actually catching up quite well.

User account handling:
!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IMPORTANT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
To my considerable astonishment, Trac makes it ridiculously easy to
impersonate other users in ticket and wiki activities - the
author/reporter information for any transaction is offered up in a form
text field, and can be edited at will - the value supplied by the user
is then recorded in the database verbatim. (This issue is trac ticket
1890.) To combat this somewhat ridiculous state of affairs I have made
some small hacks to the trac code running on red-bean, such that '
[unauthenticated]' gets appended to changed identity details provided by
an anonymous user, and that identity details changed by an authenticated
user get mangled to 'REAL-IDENTITY (CHANGED-INFO)'.

Further, I note that trac has *no way* to allow users to register
themselves, nor to change their password. Authentication is left
*entirely* up to Apache, i.e. a htpasswd file.

The integration provided by Trac seems surprisingly compelling. The
ability to do full-text searches of commit log messages is nice. The
inclusion of a hook script that allows annotating or closing tickets
directly from the commit log message is a nice touch.
The ticketing system has some shortcomings, which, in a larger project
would make me say "NO! Bugzilla is better!", but given the smallish size
of the svnbook project, I'm inclined to conduct an extended live-trial
of Trac - and if we do get annoyed with bits of it, either patch them,
or migrate to something else.

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