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News & Views

Posted by Barbie
on 12th April 2012

In case you hadn't seen the previous posting, The CPAN Testers stats server is down for maintenance. We are having a disk upgrade, which may take a few hours to complete. We will update here as soon as we know more details of when services will be back online.

UPDATE (19:00 BST): Disks have now been copied and the new server is online. Currently running checks and starting services. Hope to turn Apache back on in the next couple of hours, as I want to give the builder a chance to catch-up.

UPDATE (21:20 BST): Apache is now running. Sites are building and reports are flowing. If you spot any problems, please let me know either via the mailing list or at

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 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 5th April 2012

This is advance notice of planned maintenance.

On Thursday 12th April, the main CPAN Testers server will be out of action while an upgrade takes place. Services will start to be switched off from 07:00 BST, and will be completely offline from 10:00 BST. The upgrade will mean the server is down for at least a few hours. We hope to have the server and all services back online as soon as possible.

Over the past few months backups have been running out of disk space to complete. As such Bytemark Hosting are very kindly giving us an upgrade to a 2x1TB disk array. This should then see us with room to spare for another couple of years.

File Under: server
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.

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