NATIONAL RADIO ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORY
TO: Staff and Visitors
FROM: Ron Maddalena
SUBJECT: Documentation on problem-tracking software: xptrack
We are trying a new software system, xptrack, for reporting and keeping track of software, hardware, and other types of problems. This memo documents how to log a problem using xptrack and how to log solutions to problems. Please contact me or anyone from the computer division if you need help with using xptrack.
In the following, I use the term 'submitter' for those staff members or visitors who want to submit a problem report and I use the term 'responder' for those who are assigned responsibility for solving problems.
NOTE: If the problem needs immediate attention, the submitter first should
contact the appropriate person to get the problem fixed. Then, the submitter
should use xptrack to permanently log the problem. The xptrack system is not a
substitute for phone calls but only a system to log and keep track of problems
and their fixes.
To use xptrack, the submitter or responder must use an x-window manager such as openlook, motif, tvtwm, or any of several x-window managers for PC or Macs. The user must also be logged into one of the site's Sun workstations.
To start the software, type xptrack Sitepts & and a new window will
appear on your screen (Fig. 1). If a window doesn't appear, please see someone
from the computer division for help.
Once xptrack is running, follow the instructions in the xptrack window. Click with the mouse on the appropriate line in the main menu window (Fig. 1) to view problems other people have reported or to submit your own. You will be presented with a list of problem categories or areas (Figs. 2-4). The problem areas are arranged in a tree-like structure with problem areas as the leaves of the tree and problem categories as the branches. Problem areas (leaves) are denoted by all lower-case characters while problem categories (branches) contain upper-case characters. You traverse the problem categories (branches) to get to a problem area (leaf) by clicking with the mouse on the categories that describe your problem. After picking a problem area, you will be given a list of problems in that area (Fig. 5). Then, you can click on a problem and be given a description of the problem (Fig. 6). Or, from Figure 5, you can click on the New Problem button to submit a description of a problem (Fig. 7) in the currently-chosen area.
For example, if you want to view or report a problem with the 300-1000 MHz receiver on the 140-ft, you would select the problem categories (branches) 140, FrontEnd, and PrimeFocus in the given order. Under PrimeFocus you will find the 300-1000 mhz problem area (Fig. 4). With a click on this problem area, xptrack will bring up a list that summarizes all reported problems with that receiver (Fig. 5). You then either click the New Problem button or click on one of the problem summaries for a more detailed explanation of the problem (Fig. 6). If you are trying to submit a new problem, a new window (Fig. 7) opens up into which you should type a one-line summary of the problem and a more extensive description of the problem.
After submitting your problem, the software stores the problem in its data base and sends an e-mail to the appropriate responder. You exit the program by clicking on either Cancel, Previous Menu, or Main Menu buttons until you get back to the first window that came up at which point you can click on the Quit button.
After the responder solves the problem and logs the solution with xptrack,
you should receive an e-mail describing the solution. You can use xptrack to
reopen a problem by picking first the problem area, as described above, then the
problem to be reopened, and then specifying you want to reopen the problem (Fig.
You need not read this section if you are not responsible for a problem area. If you are a responder, you first should become familiar with the steps in the above sections. You may want to look at the configuration file that describes the problem branches and leaves and also a list of who gets what e-mail. You can find the configuration file, called pts.cf, in the ~xpts/PTS-DB/Sitepts directory. As a responder you should receive e-mail messages from submitters in the areas you are responsible for. Contact me or the computer division if you aren't receiving e-mail for problems in your area that you know have been submitted.
When you want to respond to a problem you should use the Sysop option on the main menu (Fig. 1). If you click on this option, you will have the power to make major, irreversible changes to the data base. I will describe only the way to submit solutions to problems and not other Sysop powers since a full description would be too lengthy for a memo. You should exercise Sysop powers carefully since you can destroy a great deal of information. Do not hesitate to contact me if you would like more information on these powers.
When you want to submit a solution to a problem, you should click on the Sysop
line in the main menu. A window (Fig. 9) will appear and you should click on the
Select an Unsolved... line. Next, select the problem for which you want
to report a solution (Fig. 5) and the problem description will appear (Fig. 6).
To enter a problem solution, click on Edit in the problem-description
window. After you enter a description of the solution to the problem (Fig. 10),
click on the Solve button. Your solution will be logged in the data
base and an e-mail will be sent to the submitter.