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News & Views

Posted by Barbie
on 28th December 2008

After the last major update to CPAN Testers Reports website, the plan had always been to move to a more dynamic site. While a fully fledged dynamic site is still planned, the move is being made gradually with significant updates. As such the last updates have now been made live.

The latest set of changes now mean that the site is now heavily reliant on Javascript running in the browser. With the previous updates and the large amount of data on some pages, the Javascript code previously used was taking a considerable amount of time to correctly render the page according to the user preferences. As such a major rethink was instigated and I'm very grateful to JJ, for providing a different perspective that has now been employed. All the data displayed is now driven by data files rather than HTML, thus allowing the pages to render much more quickly. Also to alieviate the loading on distribution pages, the display now only shows one version of a distribution at a time. In most cases this will be the latest version, but depending on your preferences this may differ slightly.

The preferences themselves have been updated and you are now able to filter on Perl verison and operating system, so you can see the reports that are specific for your installation requirements. The preferences are also now tied to the stats and summary graphics, so updating your preferences will also update these tables too.

The latter dynamic update, the summary graphics, now use AJAX to update the quick view of the PASS/FAIL/NA/UNKNOWN reports for the distribution versions or author distributions, depending upon which type of page you are looking at.

This does mean that if you don't have Javascript enabled in your browser then you are unlikely to experience the site as it was meant to be viewed. The next phased released however, will included a graceful downgrade to allow each page to be rendered as a flat HTML page with the ability to submit your choices of preferences via a traditional form. With the Googlebot and MSNbot hitting the site on a regular basis, it's likely that they will be harnessed to rebuild the site in future too. More updates coming soon.

With no little amount of fanfare the CPAN Testers would like to unveil a new site to accompany the rest of the family.

The CPAN Testers Preferences Administration website is now available for authors to specify the preferences they would like to set for the receipt of reports and summaries. The site now drives the Daily Summary Reports that are produced by the Author Notification System. Currently only Daily Summaries are available, but as the system settles in, the ability to provide individual reports and Weekly Summaries will also be available.

The preferences are separated into two sections, the default preferences and the distribution preferences. The default preferences are applied when you have no specific distribution preferences defined. It is here you can also switch off the ability to receive reports at all, if you wish not to be bothered with CPAN Testers. The distribution preferences can be defined for each distribution which you have released to CPAN. If you choose to only define specific preferences for some of your distributions, the remainder will use the default preferences.

The preferences themselves allow you to specify which grades you are interested in, whether you wish to just be alerted to the first or all tuples, where a tuple is an instance of Distribution version, Perl version and Operating System. You can elect to just be notified about the latest release of a distribution or all versions, as well as the Perl versions and operating systems which you wish to be alerted to, or conversely not be alerted to.

As the system is only meant for CPAN authors, the backend is driven by your PAUSE credentials. However, please note that your password is never stored by the system, and is only used to verify your login with PAUSE itself (all over SSL).

One important note I would like to make authors aware of, is that if you are not receiving summaries, then login to the site and find all notifications have been disabled without you previously asking me to, you may want to check your PAUSE account directly. The system uses your 'PAUSEID at' mailing address to send reports, and as such if you haven't correctly set up a forwarding mail address within PAUSE (it doesn't appear to be a default setting), then persistant bounces will disable all notifications within your account. Once you correct the PAUSE forwarding, you can then enable notifications and should then begin receiving summaries, as per your preferences.

If you find any problems in using the system. please me know.

File Under: prefs

November was very much a development period for CPAN Testers. There has been a lot of work going on in the backend, with Ask working on the new backend database and HTTP submission process, and myself working on several sites, including 2 new ones. There has also been some work by David Golden and Chris Williams on the smoker tools, so although we may have been publicly quiet, there has been a lot of effort being put in to push CPAN Testers forward.

One of the new sites, The CPAN Testers Preferences site is now ready to go. We finally got the SSL Certifcate approved, signed and installed, so look for a bigger announcement next week about that. The site will allow authors to set preference filters for the reporting they currently receive via the Author Notification Service. Currently only Daily Summary Reports are available, but this will be extended to the individual reports as well as Weekly Summary Reports, as soon as I have some time to add those reports in.

The more interesting site to be worked on is the main CPAN Testers Reports site. Following on from my use.perl post regarding Sorting CPAN, the backend code now uses the new database to correctly sort distribution versions. However, the biggest change to be made will be to make the site very dependant on Javascript. There is already Javascript on the site at the moment, but it wasn't written well enough to cope with some of the HUGE pages, and as such some author and distribution pages suffer from popups asking the user whether they wish to continue a long running script. This has now been resolved, and the new pages load a lot faster. In addition the filter mechanism has now been extended to include the ability to filter on the perl version and/or OS name. There is still a bit of work still be done, but again expect an announcement regarding the site in the next couple of weeks.

One thing to note about the Reports site, is that I am not currently coding it as I would a static site. If you don't have javascript enabled, then you will not be able to see the data. Once the dynamic site is available then a flat HTML version will be possible, together with the provision for AJAX requests to view specific results on your site.

At the London Perl Workshop, both Chris Williams and myself gave CPAN Testers related talks. Chris gave a more up to date version of the talk he present at YAPC::Europe in Copenhagen during the summer, while I presented a behind the scenes look at the files used to present CPAN, BACKPAN and parts of the CPAN Testers site, finishing up with the new Uploads Database. The event went very well and by all accounts all the talks were very well received. No doubt a few CPAN Testers talks will feature in some of the workshops and conferences during 2009 too.

One event that will be featuring the CPAN Testers project, will be the 2009 QA Hackathon. This is being held in Birmingham, and although this is a very dedicated event to bring together the developers involved in QA projects, if you have suggestions for attendees, would like to nominate a person we should contact, or even better still have a sponsor contact, then please visit the wiki and add a post to the site.

We topped 133 testers submitting reports last month, our highest ever, so thank you very much to everyone involved. This included 17 new addresses mapped, of which 6 new testers were identified.

Expect more news and announcements in the coming weeks as we move ever closer to CT2.0 :)

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