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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 :)

A very late summary, and that dispite one of my aims for this year was to get better at posing these on time :( As a consequence, if anyone is willing to help out with posting summaries, please get in touch.

For this post, I want to concentrate on promotion of CPAN Testers. Mark Keating wrote a very eloquent post regarding how testers themselves can promote CPAN Testers, with his post Smoke me an Onion baby. A few years ago, BinGOs and myself toyed with the idea of getting a T-shirt sorted to give out at YAPCs, promoting CPAN Testers. Unfortunately, we couldn't think of a suitable tag line and we're not graphic artists, so we never got anything sorted. In Mark's post he came up with some wonderful graphics to be used as badges for testers to promote their own involvement. If you like Mark's creations and wish to use them on your website, please get in touch and he'll provide copies for you to use. In the meantime watch out for stickers and badges at various future events.

Over the past few months, we have some interest from a few companies that have expressed a desire to support CPAN Testers. Both via monetary funding and spare capacity on servers. We are still in discussion with these companies, so hopefully we will have some new sponsors in the near future. We are always will to have more companies support us, as alhough individual funding is very much appreciated, we would like to see more corporate sponsorship to help raise our profile. If your company uses Perl, and makes use of CPAN Testers either directly or inderectly, and would be willing to help support the long term future of CPAN Testers, please get in touch.

Individual funding, as mentioned, is always very much appreciated, and if you would like to contribute in any way, you can make donations via the CPAN Testers Fund, or Gratipay. All proceeds are managed for us by the Enlightened Perl Organisation, who are a not-fot-profit organisation.

The reason for promotion, and requests for sponsorship, has come about as the Birmingham Perl Mongers' funding of the CPAN Testers servers comes to an end in September 2015, when we'll need to find other sources of funding for the current server. On top of this we have the Metabase server, which also requires funding. Sadly dedicated servers don't come cheap these days, so it roughly costs around £4200 (US$6280 or €5800) per year. Over the next six months we'll be doing as much as we can to raise the funding, but if you can help promote this to your employers that would be wonderful.

If you have any ideas to help promote CPAN Testers in other ways, please let me know and we'll see what we can do.

Posted by Barbie
on 26th May 2014

If you haven't already been aware of Gittip, it started as way to proviably tip your hat to those whose work you admire, with the idea of buying someone a beer to say thank you to some cool people for their efforts. It's also been another way to generate funds for Open Source projects.

It was suggested a while ago that CPAN Testers should get on the site with a CPAN Testers Team identity, to help add funds to the CPAN Testers Fund. While our main funding is through donations to the CPAN Testers Fund, managed on our behalf by the Enlightened Perl Organisation, having other ways for people to contribute, no matter how big or small, is certainly something worth considering. At the moment Gittip is proving to be a popular way to say thank you, so it makes sense to have a profile.

One of the problems that first faced us was getting a a suitable account from one of the other code/social sites that Gittip uses to enable anyone to create an account. We overcame that recently, when Daisuke Murase kindly gave us the keys to the @cpantesters account on Twitter. Although many projects seem to just have communities, the CPAN Testers Team account will hopefully give a more direct benefit to the CPAN Testers project, rather than individual members of the CPAN Testers community. However, if you want to thank specific testers, that's cool too.

David Golden and myself are the CPAN Testers Team account managers, so we'll make sure all contributions go into the CPAN Testers Fund. In the meantime, feel free to add yourself to the CPAN Testers Community too.

So March ended on quite a high, following the 2012 QA Hackathon. With so many key people in one room, it was impressive to see how much got done. You can read reports from myself (parts 1 & 2), David Golden, Ricardo Signes, Miyagawa, Paul Johnson, Ovid and Dominique Dumont, and there were several tweets too, during and after the event, and the wiki also has a Results page. There was a significant number of uploads to PAUSE during and after the event too. And CPAN Testers has benefited hugely from the event.

Arguably the two biggest significant developments during the event were thanks to Breno G. de Oliveira, who not only added support for CPAN Testers within cpanminus, but also began the work on the long desired CPAN::Testers::Common::Client. While working on the former, Breno noticed that there was a lot of common reporting tasks (and differences) performed within CPAN::Reporter and CPANPLUS::YACSmoke. As he wanted to replicate this within his client for cpanminus, he asked whether it would make more sense to wrap this into a separate library, to which David and I were full of encouragement for. Breno set about setting up a GitHub repository and has been doing some fantastic work bring all the reporting together. You can follow his efforts of GitHub, as garu, and hopefully we shall start to see this distribution on CPAN and in Smoker clients soon.

While that may have been the most significant output for CPAN Testers, other parts of the toolchain also made some giant leaps. Having Andreas, David, Ricardo, Schwern and Miyagawa all together meant David's idea of changing the way we look at indexing CPAN, allowed kinks and ideas to be ironed out in minutes rather than weeks. David's idea is to distance the indexing system from the repository. This will allow other repositories, such as the many DarkPAN repositories out there, to use the same system and enable toolchain installers to point to different repositories as needed. Nick Perez is now working on CPAN::Common::Index, which will form the basis for the new system. You can read the details in David's write-up of the event. Hopefully this will be a major step forward to enable CPAN Testers to be used for independent repositories, which has been a request for many years.

In other news we finally announced the sponsorship website and CPAN Testers Fund. Over the past 10 years the CPAN Testers has been funded largely by the developers. In the last 5 years hosting, network and bandwidth has been increasing, with the developers and Birmingham.pm being the principal donors. While this is great, and we really do appreciate this, the bigger CPAN Testers becomes, the more support we need. As such we are hoping to encourage sponsorship from businesses and corporations, especially if they use Perl. If you would like to know more, please get in touch. Many thanks to the Enlightened Perl Organisation for managing the CPAN Testers Fund for us.

On the mailing list there was a discussion about the reports not showing the differences in tests where strings look identical, but where one may contain control characters. Personally I feel trying to fix this in the browser is too late. As we treat the test report as a complete piece of text, we cannot currently isolate the test output to know what control characters to highlight. It could end up confusing the viewer. Andreas also thought that the author should include more appropriate tests in their test suite, and suggested the use of Test::LongString, Test::Differences or Test::HexDifferences.

As we've mentioned a few times, the SQLite database download is no longer as reliable as it once was. Andreas believes that we may have a unusual text pattern that is causing the problem, but whatever it is, it's not something we know how to solve. As the database file is high maintenance, I would like to abandon it sooner rather than later. If you currently consume the SQLite database, please take a look at the new CPAN::Testers::WWW::Reports::Query::Reports release. This now the preferred way to request records from the master cpanstats database. For the summaries, you now also have CPAN::Testers::WWW::Reports::Query::AJAX. If you have any problems or suggestions for improvements, please let me know.

On a final note, please be aware that CPAN Testers will be down for maintenance on Thursday 12th April. We'll try get everything back online as soon as possible. Thanks to Bytemark Hosting for helping us with the disk upgrade.

Posted by Barbie
on 2nd April 2012

CPAN Testers has now been running for nearly 13 years. In that time we have been supported mostly by the community and some very thoughtful individuals, to whom we owe a massive thank you. Ten years ago we were submitting less than 1,000 reports (March 2002) each month, 5 years ago we reached a new high with just under 25,000 reports (March 2007) submitted. In the last year it is no longer unusual to see 1 million reports (August 2011) submissions in a single month. Regular readers of this blog will be well aware of how successful CPAN Testers has become, and how much data we store, as we sped past 20 million reports in February 2012.

This awesome success is now reaching the limits of community generosity. As we are capturing ever larger amounts of data and providing increasing amounts of report analysis, we are starting to look further afield for the help and support we would like. The increasing volume of report data, and the more sites we deploy, means we need to look at more powerful servers, more disk spaces as well as several other things (such as SSL certificates). As a consequence our costs for maintaining the CPAN Testers project have also been increasing.

Although we can sustain this growth in the short term, we really need to look towards more corporate involvement to ensure we have a long term future.

For the past 4 years most financial contributions have either been from the admins themselves, or via Birmingham Perl Mongers (being a registered non-profit company), but we wanted a more formal sponsorship and donation programme. We needed a way to encourage donations via a public Perl entity, that businesses could recognise and acknowledge as a legitimate representative of the Perl community.

Following several long private discussions between Mark Keating, David Golden and myself during 2011, Mark put forward the proposal to the Enlightened Perl Organisation to manage a fund on our behalf. Very kindly the members agreed, and we now have a CPAN Testers Fund you can donate to. But this is just a first step. Having the fund in place now means that not only do we need to promote it, we also have to actively promote the sponsors who have helped CPAN Testers get to where they are now, to encourage further sponsorship. And so....

Please welcome The CPAN Testers Sponsors site.

This site will contain all those sponsors who we would like to thank, including individuals, and provides further information about how and what to sponsor. If you have any questions regarding sponsorship, please free to contact us and discuss what we can do to help make sponsorship from your company as easy as possible.

In addition the site provides a feed that allows the corporate sponsors to be promoted across the CPAN Testers family of sites. The feed hasn't been activated just yet, but I hope to implement this across most of the sites during the coming weeks.

If your company has a sponsorship programme, or you think there will be a benefit to them sponsoring the CPAN Testers project, please point them at this new site and ask them to get in touch with us.

But that isn't all. There are many individuals within the Perl community who would like to donate to help CPAN Testers cover their overall costs. This new CPAN Testers Fund will now make this possible. While we would welcome large donations from the business community, we are also just as pleased to have members of the Perl community continuing to support us. As such, the new site aims to make a point of thanking those individual sponsors too. No matter how big or small the donation, it all counts.

CPAN Testers has provided a lasting and valuable service to the Perl community, even if indirectly for some. We have helped to make the CPAN repository one of the most respected and revered amongst the OpenSource community. The new fund and site will help us keep that reputation for many years to come.