MetaCPAN at the QA Hackathon

One week ago, I happily had the opportunity to be at the QA Hackathon in Paris. In the past I had been vaguely aware that the hackathon exists and I had some shadowy idea of what goes on at such a thing, but I just never considered getting involved. I didn't think it was very much related to the sorts of things I work on. Happily, it turns out that I was wrong.

First off, thanks!

Before I even talk about the code, I need to thank the organizers and the sponsors. Philippe Bruhat (BooK), Laurent Boivin (elbeho) and Les Mongueurs de Perl did an absolutely fantastic job keeping a large group of people housed, fed and occupied. The only responsibility I had to take for myself was booking a flight and finding my way from the airport to the hotel. Beyond that, pretty much everything was taken care of. The venue (which was really cool) was maybe a 5 minute walk from the hotel. The dinners I attended were great. At the hackathon itself there was an impressive supply of food (including fresh fruit) pretty much always available. Your needs were met. :)

This, of course, would not have been possible on this scale without the help of many generous sponsors. It's encouraging to see that companies (and individuals) see the value in this sort of work. Please note that I am lifting this list of sponsors directly from David Golden's Hackathon post:

The City of Science and Industry, Diabolo.com, Dijkmat, DuckDuckGo, Dyn, Freeside Internet Services, Hedera Technology, Jaguar Network, Mongueurs de Perl, Shadowcat Systems Limited, SPLIO, TECLIB', Weborama, and $foo Magazine

These people made individual donations: Martin Evans, Mark Keating, Prakash Kailasa, Neil Bowers, 加藤 敦 (Ktat), Karen Pauley, Chad Davis, Franck Cuny, 近藤嘉雪, Tomohiro Hosaka, Syohei Yoshida, 牧 大輔 (lestrrat), and Laurent Boivin

Some of the highlights for MetaCPAN

  • A very short chat with Andreas Koenig set off a chain of events that is seeing 2packages.details updated much more frequently than it was up until now. This means that newly uploaded modules will be searchable on MetaCPAN much more quickly than they have been over the last year or so. This is a major improvement and one that I'm particularly happy about. We still have some work to do on MetaCPAN to take advantage of the more frequent updates, but it's excellent to have them.
  • Florian Ragwitz (rafl) and Matthew Horsfall (wolfsage) created a new /distribution endpoint to the MetaCPAN API. This endpoint currently contains only a summary of the RT bug counts. In future, Github issues and other things which are not specific to a versioned distribution will also be found here.
  • Michael Peters (wonko) fixed a bug in the indexer which affected about 800 packages. He also wrote a command line script we can use to analyze which modules are missing from the index and why that might be. This is going to be a very helpful diagnostic tool and one that we, frankly, needed a long time ago. We're very happy to have this now.
  • Nicholas Perez (nperez) wrote MetaCPAN::API::Tiny, which is basically an implementation of MetaCPAN::API
  • After David Golden (dagolden) mentioned that a MetaCPAN command line interface would be helpful, Chris Nehren (apeiron) began working on it. I'm not sure why nobody thought to create one in the past, but this is going to be another helpful tool to come out the hackathon.
  • I spent some of my time fixing bugs and adding a bit of new stuff, but most of my time was spent looking over existing pull requests as well as dealing with pull requests from the hackathon itself. I was also able to spend time with new MetaCPAN hackers, getting them started with their own local deployments as well as working on the codebase. I didn't get to write as much code as I had planned to, but spending time accepting patches and working with developers who are new to the project is an ideal situation to be in.

A New MetaCPAN Logo

As part of the weekend, we were also able to announce Raul Matei as the winner of the MetaCPAN logo contest, which EPO so kindly provided the prize money for. We went live with the new logo immediately, which looks great and takes care of one more missing piece of the puzzle.

Wrapping Up

We now have a number of new hackers who are armed with enough knowledge to bend the MetaCPAN code to their will. Together we fixed bugs, improved the test suite, worked on new functionality, dreamed up even cooler things to do and generally got a lot of good things done.

For MetaCPAN, the hackathon feels like a great success. I'm so pleased to have been a part of it. I got to meet lots of great people, hang out in a beautiful city and focus my daytime hours on MetaCPAN without any distractions. I've also got a much clearer understanding of what the QA Hackathon is all about it and I see how valuable it really is to get all of these hackers in the same room together. It's so much easier when you can walk up to some and *actually* poke them for information rather than having to wait until they check IRC, email, a bug queue etc. That in itself is a big win.

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About Olaf Alders

user-pic I hack on iCPAN, MetaCPAN and other fun stuff.