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Feature Suggestion: Virtual users or posts

I have a feature suggestion for some future release of FogBUGZ.

It is useful in certain circumstances to assign issues to "virtual" people that are decoupled from actual people. For example, it is useful to automatically assign issues to "Customer Support" or "DBA" and have them go to the person who is currently responsible for that position.

The FogBUGZ documentation even discusses the utility of such an approach: http://www.fogcreek.com/FogBUGZ/help/UsingFogBUGZtoGetCrashRep.html (search for "CityDesk New Bug" to find what I am talking about).

While this is a useful workaround, it has drawbacks:
1) The system can't log who actually performed certain actions, since people will probably log in as the virtual user to perform their work on these issues and their actions will be logged as actions of the virtual user.
2) It requires an extra license for each of these virtual users, which isn't exactly fair and prohibits or inhibits small shops from applying this useful practice.
3) It makes notification more difficult, since the system has no idea which person or people are currently serving as the virtual user and hence can't email them unless their email address is maintained redundantly (once for their account and once for each virtual account they serve).

I suggest formalizing the concept of these virtual users by implementing the Post pattern discussed in Fowler's book _Analysis Patterns_.

J. Douglas McClean
Monday, November 15, 2004

#1 - there's no reason to log on as the virtual user. Anything the virtual user can do, other people can do. So for example in our bug database we have a virtual user called "Customer Service" and you'll frequently:

  .. Opened by Customer Service
    .. Assigned to Joel Spolsky by Joel Spolsky
    .. etc.

#2 - you can deactivate the virtual user after you make them the primary contact for the project, and they won't count against your total licenses.

#3 - we're going to fix that in 4.0; you'll have the ability to set up a comma-separated list of email addresses to receive notification for one user. For 3.0, there's an easy workaround if you have an email server that allows aliases (I think all of them do), you can set up a mail alias that distributes to multiple mailboxes.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Wednesday, November 17, 2004

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