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News & Views

Posted by Barbie
on 23rd November 2009

If you've been watching the CPAN Testers Statistics site recently, particularly the Interesting Stats page, this morning you might have seen the counter for the number of reports posted by CPAN Testers, rumble passed the 6 million mark.

The lucky tester who posted the 6 millionth report was Salvador Fandiño García (aka SALVA).

With the 5 millionth report being posted back in August, we are now getting 1 million reports submitted every 3 months! Interest in CPAN Testers has certainly blossomed :) Thanks to all involved.

Posted by Barbie
on 17th November 2009

Back in 2008, it was obvious that the fragmentation of CPAN Testers sites was a problem. The system was slow, usually getting updated just once a day, and the presentation was a little disjointed. At that point a dedicated server was suggested, as this would bring a number of the key sites together and potentially provide a base with which to improve the updates of the sites. In addition it was seen a first step towards CPAN Testers 2.0.

In late September 2008 a proposal was put forward to the members of Birmingham Perl Mongers, to donate funds to aquiring a dedicate server to host a range of sites and databases. Unanimously they approved the proposal and a server was paid for at Hetzner Online AG. Based in Germany on a high bandwidth line, the server has enabled CPAN Testers to grow and now supports a dynamic set of sites and databases that are a consistent benefit to authors and users.

The server was covered for 1 year, with the intention of looking for a corporate sponsor to continue the funding for further years. However, due to the recent economic climate, the opportunities for funding appear to be limited. As such, recently another proposal was put to the members of Birmingham Perl Mongers, and once again they unanimously approved it. The server and hosting is now paid up for another year, and plans are afoot to further increase the family of sites and provide more resources to authors, testers and users.

Many thanks to all of Birmingham Perl Mongers for their continued support of the CPAN Testers project.

Posted by Barbie
on 16th November 2009

On Saturday 14th November 2009, Chris Williams posted the 6 millionth post to be sent to the cpan-testers mailing list. As the original life of the mailing list wasn't purely to post reports, this isn't the 6 millionth report to have been submitted into the CPAN Testers eco-system. However, that is coming soon. You can follow progress towards the 6 millionth report on the Interesting Statistics page of the CPAN Testers Statistics website.

Posted by Barbie
on 11th November 2009

Several months ago, Dave Cantrell noticed he wasn't receiving the Daily Summaries for some of his distributions that had received FAIL reports, and were shown on his Reports page. This began a series of code fixes and debugging that never seemed to resolve the issue.

With the recent changes to the CPAN Testers Statistics site, to reduce SQL calls and generally improve processing, I began the same with the Daily Summary code. Having added some additional logging information and reorganising the SQL queries, the problem Dave highlighted became clear. One of the SQL queries wasn't returning exactly what I expected, at least not all the time. In most cases it would, but you had to catch it just right to see what was happening. As a result the bug is now fixed, and Daily Summaries are flowing properly again.

The recent clean up has also highlighted another problem, that is outside of the scope of anything CPAN Testers specific, and resides with authors themselves. It amazes me how many authors give false or invalid addresses, or change their address and forget to update their PAUSE account. Is it any wonder that some have trouble trying to contact authors. At some point, using the CPAN Testers Preferences system, I plan to start publishing a list of PAUSE IDs that fail to respond. Those with full boxes won't be included, but will specifically highlight IDs that return invalid address error messages.

I see this as being a useful resource to remind authors that their PAUSE account may need updating, and also for anyone wishing to contact an author, whether there is any likelihood of them actually receiving a useful response. There are currently 7744 PAUSE accounts (at the time of writing), and although the number returning errors is quite small, it's enough to be annoying for those trying to contact those particular authors.

If you've not been following the CPAN Testers in the last month, you will likely have missed the updates to the CPAN Testers Statistics site. I would like to thanks MW487, JJ and Colin Newell for their thoughts and suggestions. The biggest changes have been around the matrices. The old matrices have been thrown away and a completely new set have been created, merging much of the data that was previously across the two old style matrices. The site now also looks at the OS system, rather than the specific version installed, which now gives a better general overview. In turn a new OS table is also available highlighting the number of tests per month are attributed to a particular OS. Unsurprisingly Linux is currently streets ahead of any other OS.

The graphs have always been of interest to those wishing to use them to promote Perl and CPAN, however, the way they are currently presented, doesn't always suit everyone, especially if they wish to change the style or take a different snapshot of the data. As such, you can now download the raw data files used to generate the graphs. All the files are in CSV format, so are easily loaded into you spreadsheet application of choice. Speaking of spreadsheets, in addition to changing the look of the matrices, you can now also download an XLS version of each matrix, as well as now having the ability to view each table in a widescreen format.

A new graph available is the Performance Graph, which shows how the CPAN Testers Reports Page Builder is performing each day, against the volume of reports submitted per day. While the majority of the time the Builder does perform well, every so often it slows due to the load on the web server, meaning it has to occasionally catch up, which can take several days. Now you can see whether any issues have caused your page to take a little longer to build, as well get a better idea of how many reports are getting submitted every day.

The most recent update has been the new dashboard on the homepage. Every so often I get asked how many CPAN distributions are on CPAN. Although the CPAN Statistics have had their own page for a while now, some have mentioned that it would be really cool to have a ticker that flips as a new upload gets added to CPAN. Although I can't do that just yet in true realtime, the new dashboard does try an emulate the rate at which reports and uploads have been submitted over the previous 24 hours.

In other CPAN related news the proposals and discussions for Meta-Spec 2.0 have now come to a close. David Golden is currently accepting patches to the approved proposals and hopefully we'll have a new draft specification available soon. It's been an interesting discussion in some cases, while others have been agreed or rejected almost without question. Some require a bit more thought, so it's likely there will be a further refinement of the spec in the future. If you want to read all the threads, visit the mailing list archives.

Last month we had a total of 171 tester addresses submitting reports. The mappings this month included 27 total addresses mapped, of which 14 were for newly identified testers.

Until next time, happy testing :)

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