Yes, an integrated support ticket system would be very useful, though I’m not sure how we want to go about it. Writing one from scratch is foolish, as it is a very big set of problems mostly orthogonal to our core goals. It would be nice if there were a simple, but good, ticket tracker that we could integrate (possibly even matching up the theme and running it under the Webmin server…so maybe something in Perl). Most of the existing ones have pretty big dependencies and complex configuration. We’d want one that uses an embedded database, like SQLite or BDB, rather than PostgreSQL or MySQL, because database administration probably should not be imposed on anyone just to have an issue tracker.
This might be an area where third party plugin modules can play a role–maybe we can convince one or more of the existing ticket tracker vendors or Open Source projects to hook their product into Virtualmin. We’ll have to see what folks want us to spend our development time on, and whether any existing product can fit the bill in some way.
I’ve been thinking on it all day (I started this post this morning, and it’s 10PM now as I’m finishing it up…I got distracted by FreeBSD installer work), and something is bubbling to the top which might be a useful solution to the problem–without requiring a lot of work–that would integrate very well with Virtualmin. Virtualmin has something called Custom Fields, a per-domain storage mechanism, and an “Email Server Owner” function. Given a small modification to each of these, plus a catch-all email alias, one could construct a reasonable ticket system with minimal functionality but perfect integration and very good ease of use (very limited functionality is almost guaranteed to be easy to use–the Mac is a perfect example of this…if you strip things down to the minimum necessary and do them right, it’s often just the right thing for the majority of users, though some power users might miss the flexibility of a more complex implementation). There are several products that I’ve looked at (both Open Source and proprietary) that have ticket systems like I’ve just described, very limited but well-integrated with the whole system. I don’t know anyone using them heavily to know if they work well for their purpose, however.
Hmmm…Well, just some brainstorming.
Does anyone have any opinion on whether a very simple ticket system like that with the ability to provide tiers of tickets based on whether the logged in user is a domain owner, a reseller, or an administrator, would be more valuable than a full-featured ticket system that doesn’t know automatically about those tiers?
There’s no way we’re going to re-implement something like Bugzilla within Virtualmin, but the more I think about it, the more I think Bugzilla is way too big for this. It took me half an hour to figure out how to file an issue the first time I used bugzilla (five or six years ago, and its gotten easier since then, but it’s still way too big for normal users). Maybe we just need simple communication system for discussing issues with the interested parties automatically notified of changes in state and new notes, and with the ability to mark a “ticket” closed.
Anyway, it’s not on the plate for next week (stabilization and new OS versions get that honor), but it’s definitely something worth thinking about.