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News & Views

Happy CPAN Day. If you weren't aware last month, Neil Bowers took on a promotion of the first CPAN Day. A day to celebrate the birth of CPAN. Although the concept of CPAN started before 16th August 1995, that was the day that the first true upload occurred. As such, Neil spent several days writing blog posts to help identify ways to improve your distributions. While the module code within might be great, it is just as important to write clear documentation and make the most of your package files, particularly the META files, so that PAUSE, METACPAN and others can link to all the right places.

The day itself was a success in terms of numbers, as prior to the event, working with Neil, I created a new CPAN Uploads page, on the Statistics site. This helped everyone monitor the days events in almost realtime. Its proved so successful, the page has continued. With significant thanks to INGY, we blew away the previous score of 150 for releases in a single day with 775. We also had 107 different authors submitting releases, with 41 brand new distributions finding their way on to CPAN. It was quite an achievement, and one that might take a while to pass, but as Neil noted after the event, perhaps next year we should think about something other than numbers. I'm not sure what that might be, but hopefully we'll think of something suitable to celebrate 20 years of CPAN!

During CPAN Day, unsurprisingly, there were quite a number of CPAN Testers reports (37764 in 1 day, which although 10k higher than the average, wasn't the highest we've seen in a day, that was 47929 back in January). One aspect of which I wanted to see was, how many different OSes were being tested? The subject also cropped on the mailing list, thanks to Dean Hamstead, as to which OSes are undertested, which we would really love to see more reports for. Of the testing that has been done over the last few months, the following popular OSes could use a bit more testing. So if you have a spare box and are looking to get involved with CPAN Testers, one of the following would be very gratefully appreciated:

  • Solaris
  • Irix
  • Windows (Cygwin)
  • NetBSD
  • FreeBSD
  • OpenBSD

Solaris is an often requested platform, but as most earlier versions are only supported on SPARCs, it is a tricky one to test with. However, later versions do support the x86 systems. Irix, although no longer supported by Silicon Graphics, is still used, so if you're able to set a test environment on with Irix, there are several authors who would be very grateful. The other 4 are a little more popular and easier to install in a test environment, but they are just as much in need of testing as other higher profile platforms.

The thread started by Dean also raised up the point by BooK, about whether the CPAN Testers Fund could be used to rent boxes. Unfortunately, the Fund itself isn't substantial enough to do this, as funding the existing main servers is already quite expensive. If, as Mark Keating has suggest on many occasions, several major companies using Perl were to contribute a regular, even a small, amount to the Fund each month, we could think about renting some servers or VMs to regularly test otherwise less tested systems. We already have a gittip/gratipay account, and there has been the suggestion of creating an Amazon Smile account too. These are all great ways for individuals to contribute, but realistically for us to grow it does need more major help from bigger companies. If your company can help financially in any way, please suggest the CPAN Testers Fund to them.

Gabor Szabo asked about why the Perl special variables list also includes a reference to the MSWin32 variables. The reason is simple, its how David Golden wrote it :) Longer term this will be a little easier to manage, and will hopefully be a little clearer, once Garu implements the common reporting client. Consolidating the reports with consistent data about the platform, perl and installed modules is a goal so that test reports can be better analysed, and to more easily see differences between installers as well as other environment criteria.

On the London.pm mailing list, Tom Hukins took the time to explain the differences between CPANTS and CPAN Testers. Frequently these two projects are often thought of as the same thing, and I'm not sure how tomake any clearer that they are very different projects. Paul Johnson's Devel Coverage Reports beta site is gaining fans, and I hope that it too is not confused with CPANTS and CPAN Testers too. As again it's a very different project. One that compliments the other two, but still has a different goal.

I shall be attending various HackDay, Workshop and Perl Monger tech meet events in the coming months, and hope to promote CPAN Testers in some fashion. If you're planning talks involving testing at future events, please get in touch and I'll promote them here too. Happy testing.

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