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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 :)

First big thing of July was our announcement for the new CPAN Testers Admin website. Sadly there are still someproblems for authors logging in, but we have been trying to get to the bottom if it. I've also been working on an alternative login mechanism, which will also be used by the CPAN Testers Preferences site too. We'll keep you posted when we have a fix. In the meantime, as a tester please feel free tosign up and claim your email addresses.

Renée Bäcker tweeted a solution to get your FAIL reports. The script,, retrieves the RSS feed for a specific author. Ideal if you want to filter and categorise FAIL reports toyour own requirements.

In another tweet, Stanislaw Pusep asked whether there was a problem with the CPAN Testers, as he was getting several submission failures. Thanks to Breno G. de Oliveira and Kent Fredric, it was identified as a problem with IO::Socket::IP. Specifically the smoke environment needed to downgrade to version 0.29. Unusual that a downgrade fixes the problem, but it seems a recent release, version 0.30, has had some undesired consequences.

And in yet another tweet, Ashley Willis pointed out that there is no link to 'how to be a tester' on the CPAN Testers Reports site, as well as most of the other sites. Although there is the Wiki page, the QuickStart page, it is a little too verbose, and probably jumps in a little too quickly, particularly for someone new to CPAN Testers. As such, I'd like to write an introduction page, that starts with some explanations for a completely fresh install of each client, then links to the QuickStart page. If anyone whats tomake a start before I get to it, please feel free.

Christian Walde asked on the mailing list about the defaults for the summary reports that get sent out. It seems BooK's settings had somehow become set to everything, and having spoken to others, it seems several authors are ignoring these mails as they don'tknow how tochange the settings. The defaults currently are set to only send FAIL reports, where the mix of perl and platform have not been sent previously. It was questioned whether this should change, but I believe adding more would not go down well with authors, and if authors really want additional reports they can update their Preferences, or look on the Reports site. However, as Christian highlighted, the emails themselves didn't make the link clear to change preferences, so this has now changed, and the link now appears earlier in the email.

Phillip Moore highlighted a problem with the way indexing happens in PAUSE. After David Golden forwarded to the modules mailing list, Grahan Barr replied and explained why this happened. As of version 2.00, FindBin::libs no longer has this "trick", but it does highlight that if you do have problems finding modules that are not indexed, it may have been purposefully hidden by the author. Dave Horner asked about the full name used in the Metabase secret file. Somehow Dave's secret file was missing the fullname field. Unfortunately, after the initial submission, the Metabase stores the communication using a Metabase GUID. However, all is not lost. If you have now submitted a secret and want to be able to associate your name and/or PAUSE id to your submission email,you can now do so via the new Admin site.

Sadly I missed posting about CPAN Day, but Neil Bowers did admirably posting various hints and tips of how to improve your modules and distributions. I'll post a little about this in next month's summary.

Lastly I would like to thank John Anderson for his keynote talk at YAPC::NA 2014. His commendation of CPAN Testers was very much appreciated. I only got to watch it recently, along with several others in the YAPC::NA feed. For those heading for Sofia this week for YAPC::Europe 2014, you have just as many great talks to look forward to. Sadly no CPAN Testers talks this year, but may be next year.

May has been a bit of a quiet month, although a few things have been happening in the background. The continuing work of packaging the websites is ongoing, and the plans for the Admin site are coming together. Having said that we did pass the 12 million reports mark in the middle of May too :)

We had a few reports that the testers themselves acknowledged were inaccurate. Although the new Admin site will eventually allow testers and authors to tag reports, the site isn't quite ready for release yet. As such, I now have a script, which uses the guts of the forthcoming Admin site, to hide broken reports. The reports are not deleted, as they may be of use in the future, but hidden from the statistics calculations. If your smoker does send a selection of bad reports, please let me know, and I'll see if I can hide them. As mentioned, the Admin site will eventually take on this role more officially.

Unfortunately we had a bit of a problem with backups recently, which has resulted in the one of the files used to cache the statistics, becoming corrupted. The cache file is currently being rebuilt and hopefully the Statistics site will be back online within the next few days.

The backups resulted in the hard disc filling up, as the backups now take up a noteable amount of space. As a result, the offline backup process will be taking place a little more frequently. I'm currently reviewing the server options available to us, with a view to increasing processing power and disk space to allow us to expand over the next few years. Our current server plan still has several months to run, so we have time to migrate to a new machine. We'll warn you before any switch-over, although as long as applications are using the URLs, there should be no noticable change.

This month David Golden hopes to review the current Metabase. We've had problems with Amazon, and not just because of the recent outage, but as David notes, with the number of reports submitted into the CPAN Testers database doubling in the last year, we need to look at ways to keep the processing and testing stable. With the Metabase this will involve investigating the best storage mechanism for our needs.

At the Birmingham Perl Mongers May technical meeting, another hackathon session took place. This time they looked at integrating their Devel-Platform-Info distribution into the CPAN Testers framework. The first fruits are the release of CPAN-Testers-Fact-PlatformInfo, with patches to clients and transports in progress. The work will continue in the June hackathon session, with plans to complete a write up, so that anyone wishing to add more metadata to reports can follow a guide. If your user group plans to have a hacking session on some of the CPAN Testers software, please let us know and we'll feature it in a future summary.

Conference season is fast approaching, and this month YAPC::NA 2011 takes place in Asheville, NC in the US, June 27-29. There is no specific CPAN Testers talk, but there are talks on uploading CPAN modules and testing in general. If you are planning to give a CPAN Testers talk at a conference, workshop or local technical user group, please let us know.

That's all for this month. Happy testing.

Posted by Barbie
on 24th August 2009

In Pittsburgh (YAPC::NA) and Lisbon (YAPC::Europe) this year I presented variations of my The Statistics of CPAN talk. Pittsburgh got a 20min talk, while Lisbon got a 5 minute lightning talk. I ran ALOT of numbers passed everyone and got a lot of interesting comments from them. Mark Keating picked up on both the facts of my talk and José's closing keynote when he wrote his blog entry Perl is alive, kicking and stronger than ever!.

The graphs I present in the talk go against all the comments about Perl's decline, as we're seeing more and more code published, and more and more CPAN authors contributing code. Perl is more vibrant now than it ever has been, to the point that every year we see a steady GROWTH in the contributions and authors to CPAN.

Both talk presentations are now available online:

In addition the CPAN Testers Statistics site got an update while I was in Lisbon too, with a new set of pages that were written specifically to continue the observations made in my talks, and provide facts about what many people have been trying to say about the state of Perl and CPAN. You can now these CPAN statistics at the following pages:

If you have any thoughts on the graphs, or suggestions for further statistics to depict the state of CPAN, please let me know.

June saw a lot of work behind the scenes for CPAN Testers. At the end of the month David and Ricardo finally got to release Metabase to CPAN, the project key to moving towards CPAN Testers 2.0. If you're interested in helping out or finding out more, join the mailing list, or take a look at the current Github repo. David has identified some of the areas still to be worked on, so if you have some tuits to help out, it would be very much appreciated.

The end of June also enjoyed the sun in Pittsburgh as part of YAPC::NA 2009, aka YAPC|10. While there were some testing related talks, there wasn't a specific CPAN Testers talk this year, or BOF. So much has been going into the work of getting the websites upgraded I never got the time to prepare a talk about it all. Next year hopefully we'll have a lot more to say about Metabase and the CPAN Testers 2.0 infrastructure. The talk I did do in Pittsburgh, The Statistics of CPAN, did however highlight some very positive numbers about the state of CPAN. If nothing else it highlights that CPAN Testers has a lot of work to continue with for a long time to come. I'm looking at putting a number of the tables and graphs into the CPAN Testers Statistics website, and if you have any suggestions for more, please let me know.

Following the changes in the CPAN Testers Reports website, the old domains now point to the static pages. Thanks to Ask, Robert and Jos for helping out with that. In doing so, a number of issues were pointed out that caused others problems. Specifically with the YAML files that are produced. Due to the vast number of reports now available, processing them is extremely time consuming. As a consequence to reduce the overhead, I ended up streamlining the data recorded in the YAML and JSON files, as several fields were either repeated or complete redundant. Unfortunately this has meant that some consumers of these files now are not able to process them correctly. As such there is now a new distribution on CPAN, CPAN-Testers-WWW-Reports-Parser, which can be used to correctly parse a CPAN Testers YAML or JSON file or data block, and return the fields you want. It supports all the fields previously used and knows how to construct them all from the current data set. If you plan on using the CPAN Testers data for a future project, please consider using this to ensure any future changes are instantly picked with a simple upgrade.

Last month we had a total of 165 testers submitting reports. The mappings this month included 34 total addresses mapped, of which 17 were for newly identified testers.

Congratulations to Dan Collins, who managed to post over 89,000 test reports in a single month, the highest we've ever had. Unsurprisingly Chris wasn't too far behind :) I was also delighted to meet up with George Greer at YAPC|10, as for those that weren't aware, George took the honour of the 4 millionth post to the CPAN Testers mailing list at the end of May. A few days later, on June 7th, Serguei Trouchelle posted the 4 millionth accepted test report. Hopefully I'll get to meet Serguei at some point too. On average we have previously being seeing just over 200,000 reports posted each month, however, June saw 358,107 reports posted, a staggering amount of effort from all the testers.

The next summary will hopefully be posted during YAPC::Europe 2009 in Lisbon. If you're a tester and will be there too, please come and say hello