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News & Views

Posted by Barbie
on 22nd March 2015

Are you attending a YAPC or other large technical event this year? Willing to be a speaker at such an event? Are you familiar with CPAN Testers, even as a new tester?

As I haven't been able to attend YAPCs for a few years, I am looking for someone to help keep the CPAN Testers project fresh in people's minds. As such, if you've thought you'd like to do a talk at a YAPC, but haven't had the idea for a topic, or may be you've previously done a presentaion, and would like to do another, and you would be happy to do something that covers some aspect of CPAN Testers, please get in touch. It's an ideal opportunity if you are a new speaker for your first presentation at a large event.

There are plenty of topics around CPAN Testers you could promote, particularly about getting involved with CPAN Testers, either as just a tester, as a toolchain developer or even as someone that likes to analyse common errors. Your perspective is also likely to be very different from others and can be a great source of inspiration for new testers.

The subject of a CPAN Testers talk came up in a discussion, as YAPC::NA is coming soon, and having a presentation on CPAN Testers would be very welcome. Their deadline for talk submissions has sadly past, and I had wanted to post this a few weeks ago, but there might still be the opportunity to present as part of the beginners track. If you are interested, and can put something together quickly, we can see whether they have a spare slot, or a the very least would be able to keep you in reserve should anyone drop out.

Long term, I would be delighted to have others speak at any future YAPC::Europe, YAPC::NA, YAPC::Asia, YAPC::Brazil, YAPC::Russia, Perl Workshops and other large technical events. If you need resources, please feel free use already existing presentations, stats from the CPAN Testers Statistics site or contact me, and I can hopefully point you in the right direction. Sadly, I may not have time available to help write the presentation, but I am willing to proof-read anything, should you need me to. 

YAPC::Europe is happening in Granada this year, and it would be great to finally have another CPAN Testers presentation after several years. If you can submit a talk, please do. Let me know and I'll make sure we promote it too, both here in the blog and on the twitter feed. That goes for any CPAN Testers presentation at any technical event.

CPAN Testers needs you :)

 With the big announcement on Monday, that we are now live with CPAN Testers 2.0, the next couple of months are likely to be interesting to say the least. We now have the task of helping people set up their smoker clients to use the HTTP submission process, rather than the current SMTP defaults. In most cases it will just require some changes to existing configuration settings and the possible upgrade to the latest smoker tools. Part of the setup process does involve registering with the Metabase submission service, which initially will be a little bit of a manual process, although will be a more automated process once the web site is up and running. Once correctly configured, you should then be able to continue testing as before.

The beginnings of some howto guides are now available on the CPAN Testers Wiki, which we'll elaborate on over the coming weeks. In the first instance the plan is to move the most prolific testers across to the new submission process. In several cases, these guys were beta testers for us, so are already setup. Those that haven't registered will initially need to contact David Golden, although if you submitted less than 100 reports in June, please wait until the web service is online. The registration process provides a "profile file" that contains your identifying credentials. Using the new web service, existing testers will be able to register and claim addresses which they have previously used to submit reports, and associate them with your "profile", so that you can continue to be identified in the CPAN Testers Leaderboard. The web service will be deployed very shortly, so please be patient, while we get the top testers setup first.

Once the bulk of testers are using the HTTP submission process, the next step will be to contact the less frequent testers. This will mostly be a case of tailing the SMTP submissions and contacting testers individually where possible. The SMTP service will be shut down on or around 31st August, so there should be plenty of time for testers to migrate their current smoker clients to the new system. After this date any report submitted via SMTP will not be processed.

Over the next few months the smoker client tools will be upgraded to use the HTTP submission process by default rather than the SMTP process, thus allowing new testers to automatically be setup to use the new system. In addition, the intention is to provide a mechanism to use the registration web service via an automated API, which will mean that Strawberry Perl installations can automatically be setup to run a CPAN Testers client, and be pre-registered without the user having to do this themselves. The downside to this is that the profile will not be tied to a user that we can necessarily contact, however there are already several submissions each month that use fictious email addresses. The difference with the new registration process, is that at a later date the tester can more actively use their profile file to claim a real email address. Over time we hope this will then become a much more reliable service.

As mentioned in the press release, CT2.0 offers a few advantages for us, one of which is that it doesn't truncate reports. Although, we will be monitoring the reports submitted to ensure that none are unnecessarily large. It does mean that we should be able to parse all the necessary metadata from the report, reducing the number of submissions with conflicting or missing data. As we begin to provide more structured data within the report submission, validation of reports will become much more reliable, and include many more detailed aspects of the testing environment.

One aspect of the testing environments, that often causes confusion, is the operating system used. Currently our understanding of the OS used is mostly drawn from the 'Perl -V' configuration settings, which may not always be correct. In addition, for some OSes the information provided doesn't give a clear enough picture. For example, if the OS is Linux, knowing whether it's RedHat, Debian or SUSE based may have significant benefits to fixing problems, likewise differentiating between Tiger, Leopard and Snow Leopard for Mac OSX. As such, a Birmingham.pm initiated project aims to provide this information as part of the structured data of a report. As a first step the creation of Devel-Platform-Info is underway, and will provide the metadata required in a consistent format, regardless of platform. This will eventually be then included in the CT2.0 style of reporting, simply as an additional Fact.

We've again had some run-ins with a certain search engine last month, and despite various erroreous claims, we were able to provide logs that disproved them all. The search engine has now finally disabled the aggressive crawling of the CPAN Testers site ... having only taken 6 months of asking! They have asked to be allowed to crawl the website again, having claimed to have fixed the problems, but until I have some free time to properly monitor their bots, they will have to wait.

As mentioned in the press release on Monday, there are two forthcoming conferences which will feature talks concerning CPAN Testers. David Golden will be presenting "Free QA! What FOSS can Learn from CPAN Testers" at OSCON and Barbie will be presenting "CPAN Testers 2.0 : I love it when a plan comes together" at YAPC::Europe.

After several long months of getting CPAN Testers ready for launch, the next month is likely to see activity centred around minor fixes, howtos and helping people migrating to CPAN Testers 2.0. If you do hit any problems, please post them to the cpan-testers-discuss mailing list, where many of the high profile testers and developers reside. After the deadline, we'll be concentrating on some of the new systems that have been waiting in the wings, and taking a more detailed look at providing more structure data in the reports. A new dawn rises.

Posted by Barbie
on 10th December 2009

At the weekend, the Westminister University hosted the London Perl Workshop. The event was a great success, and many thanks to Mark Keating, his crew and all the sponsors for making it happen.

Chris Williams, our most prolific CPAN tester, presented a talk about CPAN Testing, which seemed to go down very well. Interestingly Tomas Doran made the observation that when anyone has problems with Catalyst distributions, the developers usually encourage people to submit a CPAN Testers report, as it includes all the information they need, rather than trying to explain to the person how to get it.

Chris' talk Rough Guide to CPAN Testing is now online.

In November we reached the 6 million reports submitted mark. It's quite staggering how many reports are being submitted these days. It's now roughly 1 million reports every 3 months! So expect a 10 million reports post some time in August 2010 :)

Now that we are producing so many reports, while there is a desire to get more reports from less tested operating systems, Tim Bunce recently highlighted his interest in getting reports that included a diverse set of Perl configuration flags, in particular regarding how Perl was compiled (with and without threads, etc). At the moment the CPAN Testers Statistics database doesn't include that information, but the Metabase that is behind CPAN Testers 2.0 will. In addition the Metabase will be able to be queried to glean the reports that contain a specific set of flags, etc. At the moment there are quite a few different setups testing on the top few operating systems being tested. While some authors see these as just repeated results, in some cases they provide slight differences in the test results. This is particularly what Tim was interested in for Devel-NYTProf. Hopefully we'll be closer to getting more of that information more readily available soon. In the meantime, if you do want to get involved with CPAN Testers, and only have a traditional operating system available, take a look at some of the reports posted by current testers for the same platform, and see what different setups you could provide.

In the CPAN Testers namespace, CPAN has seen a new upload, CPAN-Testers-Data-Addresses. This release will be the new way for me to manage the tester address mappings. To begin with the testing is being run stand-alone, but it will be shortly be integrated to the CPAN Testers Statistics website. From there it will also be integrated into the new site that is hopefully being launched early next year, which will allow testers to register their testing addresses (among other things). More uploads to the CPAN Testers namespace are being worked on, in particular ones to provide a more programmatic access to the CPAN Testers APIs. More news on those hopefully next month.

This weekend sees the annual London Perl Workshop. Featured in the schedule is Chris 'BinGOs' Williams' talk "Rough Guide to CPAN Testing". If you are a CPAN Tester and are planning to attend the event, please come along and say hello :)

Last month we had a total of 164 tester addresses submitting reports. The mappings this month included 17 total addresses mapped, of which 7 were for newly identified testers. A bit of a low mapping month, mostly due to my attention being elsewhere. With the new mapping system hopefully this will become a little more streamlined for next year.

Until next time, happy Christmas testing :)

Posted by Barbie
on 10th September 2009

Next week on Saturday 19th September, in Dublin, OSS BarCamp will be taking place at DIT Kevin Street Campus, which is very near St. Stephen's Green in the centre of Dublin. It's a one day event and to attend all you need do is add your name to the list.

So why am I mentioning this? Well Tim Bunce will be there talking about Perl. One of the talks he will be presenting is an updated version of his Perl Myths talk. This time around Tim is using some new and improved graphs from my The Statistics Of CPAN talk, and generally putting Perl in a much better light, with some hard facts and figures.

If you're likely to be in or near Dublin next Saturday, I strongly urge you to book a ticket to the event, as it is going to be a very worthwhile day of talks and people. Just wish I could be there myself :)