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1. Details about send-pr and GNATS

A Problem Report is a message that describes a problem you are having with a body of work. send-pr organizes this message into a form which can be understood and automatically processed by GNATS, the GNU Problem Report Management System. A Problem Report is organized into fields which contain data describing you, your organization, and the problem you are announcing (see section Problem Report format). Problem Reports go through several defined states in their lifetimes, from open to closed (see section States of Problem Reports).

1.1 States of Problem Reports  
1.2 Problem Report format  

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1.1 States of Problem Reports

Each PR goes through a defined series of states between origination and closure. The originator of a PR receives notification automatically of any state changes.

The initial state of a Problem Report. This means the PR has been filed and the responsible person(s) notified.

The responsible person has analyzed the problem. The analysis should contain a preliminary evaluation of the problem and an estimate of the amount of time and resources necessary to solve the problem. It should also suggest possible workarounds.

The problem has been solved, and the originator has been given a patch or other fix. The PR remains in this state until the originator acknowledges that the solution works.

A Problem Report is closed ("the bug stops here") only when any changes have been integrated, documented, and tested, and the submitter has confirmed the solution.

Work on the problem has been postponed. This happens if a timely solution is not possible or is not cost-effective at the present time. The PR continues to exist, though a solution is not being actively sought. If the problem cannot be solved at all, it should be closed rather than suspended.

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1.2 Problem Report format

The format of a PR is designed to reflect the nature of GNATS as a database. Information is arranged into fields, and kept in individual records (Problem Reports).

Problem Report fields are denoted by a keyword which begins with `>' and ends with `:', as in `>Confidential:'. Fields belong to one of three data types:

One of a specific set of values, which vary according to the field. The value for each keyword must be on the same line as the keyword. These values are not configurable (yet).

For each ENUMERATED keyword, the possible choices are listed in the send-pr template as a comment. The following fields are ENUMERATED format; see the descriptions of fields below for explanations of each field in detail:

>Confidential:   >Severity:       >Priority:
>Class:          >State:          >Number:

One single line of text which must begin and end on the same line (i.e., before a newline) as the keyword. See the descriptions of fields below for explanations of each field in detail. The following fields are TEXT format:

>Submitter-Id:   >Originator:     >Synopsis:
>Category:       >Release:        >Responsible:

Text of any length may occur in this field. MULTITEXT may span multiple lines and may also include blank lines. A MULTITEXT field ends only when another keyword appears. See the descriptions of fields below for explanations of each field in detail.

The following fields are MULTITEXT format:

>Organization:   >Environment:    >Description:
>How-To-Repeat:  >Fix:            >Audit-Trail:

A Problem Report contains two different types of fields: Mail Header fields, which are used by the mail handler for delivery, and Problem Report fields, which contain information relevant to the Problem Report and its submitter. A Problem Report is essentially a specially formatted electronic mail message.

The following is an example Problem Report. Mail headers are at the top, followed by GNATS fields, which begin with `>' and end with `:'. The `Subject:' line in the mail header and the `>Synopsis:' field are usually duplicates of each other.

Message-Id:  message-id
Date:        date
From:        address
Reply-To:    address
To:          bug-address
Subject:     subject

>Number:       gnats-id
>Category:     category
>Synopsis:     synopsis
>Confidential: yes or no
>Severity:     critical, serious, or non-critical
>Priority:     high, medium or low
>Responsible:  responsible
>State:        open, analyzed, suspended, feedback, or closed
>Class:        sw-bug, doc-bug, change-request, support, 
or duplicate
>Submitter-Id: submitter-id
>Arrival-Date: date
>Originator:   name
>Organization: organization
>Release:      release
State-Changed-From-To: from-to
State-Changed-When: date
Responsible-Changed-From-To: from-to
Responsible-Changed-When: date

1.2.1 Mail header fields  
1.2.2 Problem Report fields  

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1.2.1 Mail header fields

A Problem Report may contain any mail header field described in the Internet standard RFC-822. However, only the fields which identify the sender and the subject are required by send-pr:

The preconfigured mail address for the Support Site where the PR is to be sent, automatically supplied by send-pr.

A terse description of the problem. This field normally contains the same information as the `>Synopsis:' field.

Usually supplied automatically by the originator's mailer; should contain the originator's electronic mail address.

A return address to which electronic replies can be sent; in most cases, the same address as the From: field.

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1.2.2 Problem Report fields

Field descriptions

The following fields are present whenever a PR is submitted via the program send-pr. GNATS adds additional fields when the PR arrives at the Support Site; explanations of these follow this list.

(TEXT) A unique identification code assigned by the Support Site. It is used to identify all Problem Reports coming from a particular site. (Submitters without a value for this field can invoke send-pr with the `--request-id' option to apply for one from the support organization. Problem Reports from those not affiliated with the support organization should use the default value of `net' for this field.)

(TEXT) Originator's real name. The default is the value of the originator's environment variable NAME.

(MULTITEXT) The originator's organization. The default value is set with the variable DEFAULT_ORGANIZATION in the send-pr shell script.

(ENUMERATED) Use of this field depends on the originator's relationship with the support organization; contractual agreements often have provisions for preserving confidentiality. Conversely, a lack of a contract often means that any data provided will not be considered confidential. Submitters should be advised to contact the support organization directly if this is an issue.

If the originator's relationship to the support organization provides for confidentiality, then if the value of this field is `yes' the support organization treats the PR as confidential; any code samples provided are not made publicly available (e.g., in regression test suites). The default value is `yes'.

(TEXT) One-line summary of the problem. send-pr copies this information to the `Subject:' line when you submit a Problem Report.

(ENUMERATED) The severity of the problem. Accepted values include:

The product, component or concept is completely non-operational or some essential functionality is missing. No workaround is known.

The product, component or concept is not working properly or significant functionality is missing. Problems that would otherwise be considered `critical' are rated `serious' when a workaround is known.

The product, component or concept is working in general, but lacks features, has irritating behavior, does something wrong, or doesn't match its documentation.
The default value is `serious'.

(ENUMERATED) How soon the originator requires a solution. Accepted values include:

A solution is needed as soon as possible.

The problem should be solved in the next release.

The problem should be solved in a future release.
The default value is `medium'.

(TEXT) The name of the product, component or concept where the problem lies. The values for this field are defined by the Support Site.

(ENUMERATED) The class of a problem can be one of the following:

A general product problem. (`sw' stands for "software".)

A problem with the documentation.

A request for a change in behavior, etc.

A support problem or question.

duplicate (pr-number)
Duplicate PR. pr-number should be the number of the original PR.

The default is `sw-bug'.

(TEXT) Release or version number of the product, component or concept.

(MULTITEXT) Description of the environment where the problem occured: machine architecture, operating system, host and target types, libraries, pathnames, etc.

(MULTITEXT) Precise description of the problem.

(MULTITEXT) Example code, input, or activities to reproduce the problem. The support organization uses example code both to reproduce the problem and to test whether the problem is fixed. Include all preconditions, inputs, outputs, conditions after the problem, and symptoms. Any additional important information should be included. Include all the details that would be necessary for someone else to recreate the problem reported, however obvious. Sometimes seemingly arbitrary or obvious information can point the way toward a solution. See also Helpful hints.

(MULTITEXT) A description of a solution to the problem, or a patch which solves the problem. (This field is most often filled in at the Support Site; we provide it to the submitter in case she has solved the problem.)

GNATS adds the following fields when the PR arrives at the Support Site:

(ENUMERATED) The incremental identification number for this PR.

The `>Number:' field is often paired with the `>Category:' field as


in subsequent email messages. This is for historical reasons, as well as because Problem Reports are stored in subdirectories which are named by category.

(ENUMERATED) The current state of the PR. Accepted values are:

The PR has been filed and the responsible person notified.

The responsible person has analyzed the problem.

The problem has been solved, and the originator has been given a patch or other fix.

The changes have been integrated, documented, and tested, and the originator has confirmed that the solution works.

Work on the problem has been postponed.

The initial state of a PR is `open'. See section States of Problem Reports.

(TEXT) The person responsible for this category.

(TEXT) The time that this PR was received by GNATS. The date is provided automatically by GNATS.

(MULTITEXT) Tracks related electronic mail as well as changes in the `>State:' and `>Responsible:' fields with the sub-fields:

State-Changed-<From>-<To>: oldstate>-<newstate
The old and new `>State:' field values.

Responsible-Changed-<From>-<To>: oldresp>-<newresp
The old and new `>Responsible:' field values.

State-Changed-By: name
Responsible-Changed-By: name
The name of the maintainer who effected the change.

State-Changed-When: timestamp
Responsible-Changed-When: timestamp
The time the change was made.

State-Changed-Why: reason...
Responsible-Changed-Why: reason...
The reason for the change.

The `>Audit-Trail:' field also contains any mail messages received by GNATS related to this PR, in the order received.

>Unformatted: (MULTITEXT) Any random text found outside the fields in the original Problem Report.

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