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News & Views

Once again apologies for the delayed summary this month. The day job has been rather taken up a lot of my time for the past few months, and I've had a few other projects that have needed my attention. Hopefully next month, I'll fair better.

First off for this month, I'd like to advertise the 2013 QA Hackathan, taking place in Lancaster, UK from 12th April to 14th April. This event with be the 6th QA Hackathon, and is looking to as successful as previous years. There are plenty of projects to work on, and plenty of developers willing to pitch in and help out. Plans for CPAN Testers include preparing for the move from AWS. We have an opportunity to clean up the problems of data storage, or rather data search, by moving to a new Metabase, which Dave Golden has been working on. There will plenty of other QA projects that will be worth watching too, so look out for the various blog posts and code releases during and after the event.

David Oswald ended January on the mailing list, with a question about tests for Bytes::Random::Secure on 5.6.*. It highlighted the usefulness of CPAN Dependencies, providing the data to show that pre-requisites were the problem, rather than the distribution itself. It also highlighted why referencing cp5.6.2an at, could help out those users who need reliable installs of particular distributions for their version of Perl.

The discussion regarding NFS continued into the month, as detailed in my delay summary from last month. Buddy Burden asked about comparing test reports. Although not quite the same, it does follow on from other similar requests about getting at data within reports. There are two problems at the moment, the first is reliably getting at the metadata of a particular report. Although I could open up an API to this data, it doesn't help with the second problem, which is the ability to compare structured data. Currently reports are compiled mostly as a single piece of text. To be able to properly compare reports, it would be better to use structured data. At the last QA Hackathon making this more of a reality was discussed and some code was even released to help push it forward. However, there is still some way to go, and hopefully at the 2013 QA Hackathan we may see some more movement on this. In the meantime, the CPAN Test Analysis site may well provide some of the comparisions you may be looking for.

Matthew Musgrove asked if he could use the same distroprefs with multiple smokers. For those unfamilar with the distroprefs files, these are the files used by testers to help filter out distributions that are problematic when running automated tests. They are also referred to as the ignore lists. These files typically are used with individual smokers and are not shared between them. However, there are a few ways this could be handled. Some use a source code repository (sometimes on GitHub), to sync between their smokers. David Cantrell told us he uses the more traditional method of shell script and rsync. However, you share your distroprefs between smokers, bare in mind that you'll be excluding distributions that may not be a problem on some of your smokers. As such, it may be worth retrying some distributions over time to see whether old issues have been resolved.

David Oswald top and tailed the month with another post asking for help understanding a FAIL for Bytes::Random::Secure. David had identified that the failure was due to Crypt::Random::Seed not being installed, however it was explicitly listed in the prerequisites. David Cantrell pointed to the very long @INC, which some smokers use to avoid installing distributions, but reference the installers build directory. This can be problematic for two reasons. Firstly, long running smokers can blow the length of @INC, such that paths added to the end only get ignored. Secondly, if the installer has a limit for the amount disk space used, it may remove older distributions before running tests. To avoid this, many smokers will automatically stop and start their smokers to keep the @INC at a manageable length.

We passed 28 million reports at the beginning of February (congratulations to Peter John Acklam for his PASS submission of Compress-Zlib-Perl), and passed 29 million (even more congrats to Peter John Acklam for his UNKNOWN submission of Regexp-Assemble) at the beginning of March. I suspect we may well hit 30 million around the time of the 2013 QA Hackathan, which would be rather nice to celebrate while many of us are all together. In February, Thomas Peters (WETERS) held the 6000th unique PAUSE account to upload a distribution. Interesting to see that the number of authors currently submitting to CPAN has stayed pretty constant over the past few years. We're also gaining around 30-40 new active authors every month too.

That's all for now. Hope to see you in Lancaster next month, and I'll do my best to get the next summary out before then too!

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