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News & Views

Firstly for this summary, I would like to extend a big thank to lestrrat, Mark Allen and Ron Savage for the first individual donations to the CPAN Testers Fund, as managed via the Enlightened Perl Organisation. The fund has been a long time coming, and we are really greatful to all the donations. If you'd like to contribute something to help CPAN testers, whether as a one-off or a regular contribution, please see the EPO CPAN Testers Fund page for further details. We plan to list all donators on the CPAN Testers Sponsors website, as a further thank you to you all.

Continuing the thank yous, a very special thank you goes to Bytemark Hosting, who host the main database and webserver for us. Back in March we were running out of space running the backups, which occasionally took out the websites. As such we approached the guys at Bytemark to see whether we could increase the disk space. Having re-evaluated their server offerings recently, they now provide the bigger hard drives for our package, and so we scheduled a day of time after Easter to allow us to upgrade. Unsurprisingly the databases took the longest to copy across, but once new disks were mirrored, we were up and running very quickly, with no issues at all. Very many thanks go specifically to Chris and David for making the upgrade so seemless and smooth.

And finally, but no means least, a further thank you has to go to Webfusion. They are donating a server for CPAN Testers use, which we will be using to host a 2nd tier BACKPAN, CPAN and MiniCPAN, as well as some of the CPAN Testers family of websites. expect more details very soon.

Last month saw some blog posts, particularly from Jonathon Swartz and Martin Evans, which looked at why the CPAN installer tools shouldn't run tests. While I can appreciate their perspective, the argument is slightly flawed. Their reasoning is based on the fact that DEB and RPM packages can be installed without testing, except the problem with this is that you're not comparing like for like. The Debian and RedHat package maintainers actually run the tests on your behalf before packaging and releasing the distributions. As such there isn't a need to test on install when using the DEB and RPM installers. The CPAN installers (cpan, cpanp and cpanm) are all retrieving the source distributions, not pre-prepared packages for a given platform. In this case you have no idea whether the distribution will install on your platform.

However, as a way to avoid the testing stage for those who really want to skip it, it would be interesting to see whether the CPAN installers could make use of CPAN Testers to attempt to verify the platform, and see whether reports have been submitted and what success rate it achieved. Tests could then be skipped if the number of reports and success rate is above a (user) pre-determined value. CPANPLUS has alreay previously looked at this, but I don't believe it currently makes use of the new data structures. I would be interested to see if the maintainers of the installers wanted to pursue this. The JSON data is already there and the CPAN-Testers-WWW-Reports-Query-AJAX distribution aims to provide the statistics for a specific platform/perl.

For several months I have been getting email, both privately and via the mailing list, highlighting missing reports. Although we are aware of the deficiencies of Amazon's SimpleDB, and David Golden is closer to moving to a new infrastructure, it is often difficult to find the specific reports we need to reimport. Recently Andreas sent me some very specific details, and as such I have now started running a regeneration script that can look for holes in the lists SimpleDB returns and make further requests for the reports within a shorter time limit. So far it has picked up several thousand missing reports from the last month. As such I will now start periodically running this agains the whole database to try and discover missing reports from the last 18 months. Until the new system is in place, I will now look at running the regeneration script at least on a weekly basis to catch any reports that slip through SimpleDB's very dubious net.

Once again, I would also like to make you aware of the problems with the cpanstats SQLite database. We still have not been able to resolve the issues, and the lifetime for the SQLite download is going to be limited now. I haven't decided on a date to decommision the file, but if you are using it, please look into CPAN-Testers-WWW-Reports-Query-Reports and see how you can make use of it. The new API reduces the need to download Gigabytes of data, and reduces the overhead for producing the database considerably. If you have any problems with the API, please let me know.

More news coming soon...

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