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News & Views

So the 2014 QA Hackathon has drawn to a close, but it is far from the end of the work, particularly for CPAN Testers. You can read several blog posts detailing many aspects of the QA and testing community work done during the hackathon, as well as several aspects of the toolchain, including PAUSE (which saw a lot of collaboration). It does get said often, and it bears repeating, that the QA Hackathons are a vaulable part of the Perl community, and help to drive many projects. Without them it is likely that key elements of the infrastructure we have come to rely on (PAUSE, CPAN, BACKPAN, MetaCPAN, CPAN Testers, CPANTS) would be a long way from being the resourceful, stable and continually developing components we have come to accept. Next year's hackathon will be in Berlin, and I for one am very much looking forward to it.

Aside from the work on the database for CPAN Testers during the hackathon, I did get to make a few releases, but several elements I started during the hackathon, were only completed during the following weeks. One of these CPAN-Testers-WWW-Reports-Query-Report, now enables you to retrieve the Metabase Fact object, JSON or hash representation of a specific report. For those looking at analysing the similarities and differencies between reports, this may make things a little easier, particularly when we start introducing more element facts into the report fact. Currently this only works for reports stored in the Metabase, so those early reports are not currently retrievable .. yet.

I discussed a new command line tool to submit reports with H.Merijn "Tux" Brand, who is keen to run reports in standalone instances. I see this working similar to Garu's cpanm-reporter, and with the common client that Garu has been working on, this could be a nice addition to the submission options. Liz Mattijsen, Tobias Leich (who easily has the coolest gravatar on CPAN) and I talked about how Perl6 distributions could be incorporated into CPAN Testers. There are some subtle differences, but there are also many common factors too. It was interesting to read the Rakudo blog post about Perl 6 and CPAN, as overcoming some of the hurdles potentially facing Perl6 developers are likely to help make CPAN a better place for all of us. The currently proposed solution is a similar approach to how different namespaces are stored in the Metabase. For the time being though, Perl6 distributions are excluded from CPAN Testers, but once we have a Perl6 smoker there is no reason not to include them. I'm not sure how soon that will be, but watch this space.

Andreas König and I once again looked at the way the reports are stored in the Metabase. Andreas had already highlighted the updated date, which is meant to be the date it entered the Metabase, was in actual fact the created date (the date of the testers platform). Along with David Golden, we looked at the code used by the Metabase, but failed to find anything wrong with it. It's hopefully something we can take more time over in the future, however the next priority for the Metabase is getting it moved onto MongoDB and away from SimpleDB. In the meantime, the Generation code, due to time constraints and the lack thereof, has been running using the 2010 version of the Metabase/AWS interface. During the hackathon and the following weeks, I finally upgraded to use the revamped version released in 2012. Although still troublesome to find all the reports, the search interface has been much improved, and now we have a much more reliable feed from the Metabase. This is also in part due to the rewrite of the internals of the Generation code to be more pro-active in find unusual gaps between reports.

I spoke with Neil Bowers during the hackthon too. Neil had suggested some ideas that I'd wanted to included into the CPAN Testers Statistics site. We discussed others during the hackathon, and although I have several notes to work from, it will be a little while yet before I can put aside some time to implement them. Neil has no end to the ideas to help improve CPAN, and I hope he'll be a good sounding board for ideas to incorporate into the site in the future. On the first day of the hackathon he posted about how quickly CPAN Testers test a distribution, after being uploaded to PAUSE. He was surprised to see some reports posted almost instantly. This is largely thanks to Andreas' work to bring the Tier 1 mirrors up to date within 10 seconds of a distribution being successfully uploaded to PAUSE. People such as Chris and Andreas use their own T1 mirrors to feed into their smokers, so as a consequence the reports can appear on the Reports site within one hour of the distribution hitting PAUSE!

I had intended to launch the CPAN Testers Admin site during the hackathon, but didn't get the chance to prepare a launch statement. I did wonder how a launch on 1st April would go down, but elected to wait a little longer. So expect some news on that front very soon.

Just before the hackathon we reach 40 million report submissions. An impressive number by any standards, and gives a compelling argument that Perl & CPAN are still being actively maintained and developed.

John Scoles made a post related to CPAN Testers, highlighting how CPAN Testers showed why a particular test needed a little more thought. Thanks to the wide variety of perls and platforms tested by the CPAN Testers, it provided John with some intriguing failures, and made for an informative look at how hashes called in scalar context are handled differently between versions of Perl and platforms. Prior to the QA Hackathon Neil Bowers posted about his new idea for An author's CPAN dashboard, which he continued to develop during the hackathon too. We even discussed, together with Olaf Alders, whether this was something that should feature in MetaCPAN. For now it won't, but hopefully it can develop further and w'll see what people make of it, once more APIs are fed into the dashboard.

Another month wrapped up, and another QA Hackathon over. Lots to do and plenty of fresh ideas coming. Happy testing.


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