QA Hackathon 2015 (Berlin)

I was at the QA Hackathon in Berlin this year.

Everyone else writing about it has an introductory section about what it is, so I needn’t concern myself with one… as well we’re on here after all.

In a stupid move, I forced myself to constantly look for some other hacker to mooch power from – I left my own power supply at home. Fortunately as a semi-reluctant initiate to the Apple cult, I found plenty who were of the same hardware persuasion, whom I could bum some laptop juice of life from. I hope to not repeat this part.

But the main reason that I chose to be present at all was for the consensus discussions scheduled this year.

If I am frank, I cannot say whether I mattered to the discussions as much as they mattered to me. But their outcome mattered greatly to me, and so I am glad to have been there, and glad of the course they eventually took. I tried to do the best I could to help steer them in that direction, but in the end it was not me who made the difference.

I am deeply grateful that Neil Bowers was there. Without him, my true feelings about that part of the hackathon might have had to be very different.

Thank you, Neil.

(I am left to contemplate what might have resulted had we had a fifth day, and had we scheduled a from-scratch repeat of the conversation from day 1 for that ever-to-be-hypothetical day 5.)

If you weren’t there, you will be reading about this subject on his weblog in the time to come.

As for hacking, going in, I registered my interest to work mainly on the Plackification of PAUSE and other PAUSE issues. Well, I didn’t end up working on any of that. And with Kenichi Ishigaki on the ground, it truly was unnecessary – he set the tarmac on fire, with an initial working port in hours.

Instead, on the first day, Ricardo Signes made an off-hand remark about a branch that adds more tie magic to Module::CoreList (tie is like violence, apparently…). “Thoughts?” Thus it is that I went on a still-ongoing quest to raze Module::CoreList as we know it to the ground, to replace it with something that is actually designed.

The plan for that is as follows:

  1. Complete the design and implementation of a module for providing the data currently stored in Module::CoreList. This comprises two concerns: a data model and storage format for the data on one hand, and an interface to query the data on the other hand.

  2. Cut the guts out of Module::CoreList and shim them with reimplementations in terms of the new module (using – of course – some more tie… as I said…).

  3. Repeat the same for all the CoreList-related tooling for the Perl release engineering process.

There is some complication in that these steps are not independent; working on #2 and #3 is necessary to inform the design in step #1, by providing specific requirements to cover, and changes in #1 then spiral back to #2 and #3. A holistic learning process, as all software development is.

The pace of this project has slowed since I got back home, inevitably, but I have continued the pursuit. The design for #1 seems to have stabilised now. I hope to get to the point of finishing up #2 fairly soon. When I get there, I’ll post patches for review on p5p. I will also be writing up which design constraints I chose and why, and how and why I chose to fulfil them.

There has been a curious thread through my hackathons – Bitter Lemon. The Act hackathon in Lyon last year taught me that apparently you cannot order it in France. At the QA hackathon in Berlin this year, I taught Ricardo Signes and David Golden (and others maybe) that you can order it in Germany. It seemed quite the surprise to Rik. And I noticed that while David had been demurring with “just water” when the others would order their Weizens and their ales and whatnot, after that, he’d have Bitter Lemon at nearly every opportunity.

Yes, it was good to hang with that crowd. Often I enjoy only fragments of the experience, and it falls on those to make the whole worthwhile. But not here so much.

Besides Neil Bowers, my sincerest thanks go to Tina Müller and aides for doing all the legwork it took to make this event happen. (Metaphorical and physical. Four tall flights up!) And of course I would be remiss to close the post without a mention of the sponsors who made it possible: thinkproject!, amazon Development Center, STRATO AG,, AffinityLive, Travis CI, Bluehost, GFU Cyrus AG, Evozon, infinity interactive, Neo4j, Frankfurt Perl Mongers, Perl 6 Community, Les Mongueurs de Perl, YAPC Europe Foundation, Perl Weekly, elasticsearch, LiquidWeb, DreamHost, qp procura, mongoDB, Campus Explorer, as well as individual contributions from Ron Savage, Christopher Tijerina, Andrew Solomon, Jens Gassmann, Marc Allen, and Michael LaGrasta.

It was worth it.


Regarding a rework of Module::CoreList... I'm interested in writing another module with the same kind of role: Git::Features.

At first, I thought about stealing from Module::CoreList, or convincing BinGOs to upload Module::CoreList::TieHashDelta as a separate module I could use.

Now that you've exposed your plan, I'd be interested to participate, at least in the position of a potential user that is not Module::CoreList itself.

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