|Perl: the Markov chain saw|
Help module authors by testing them on older versions of perlby mirod (Canon)
|on Aug 31, 2005 at 16:43 UTC||Need Help??|
I mean testing the modules, not the authors ;--)
You might or might not know it, but modules released on CPAN are tested, and the results are reported on CPAN testers. The tests results are linked from the module page on search.cpan.org. Most of the tests are done automatically by a great group ofvolunteers.
There is one problem though: those volunteers are usually very up-to-date in their configurations, and understandably so. So you get a lot of results for various architectures and OSs, but mostly for recent versions of perl. To take a (completely random!) example, on August 31rst 2005 the XML::Twig result page shows 26 tests, 24 of those being on perl 5.8.4+.
I posted myself one of the 2 results for 5.6 BTW.
This leaves some big holes in the testing of the module, as for example Unicode processing changed quite a bit between 5.5, 5.6, 5.8.0 and 5.8.1+.
So if you are using modules, here is a simple thing you can do to help the authors: get Test::Reporter, install it, and run cpantest for the modules you have installed that pass the tests.
If you wonder what is the format of the package option, it is the "normalized" name of the distribution: Test-Reporter-1.27, XML-Twig-3.21... so cpantest -g pass -auto -p Test-Reporter-1.27 will report that indeed Test::Reporter passed the tests on your machine (it is even more important to report failures, but I assume that in most cases the author ends up being informed of those, through CPAN testers, rt.cpan.org or direct email).
This will help other users with the same version and architecture, as they can then check that the module runs for at least one person. It will also help the author of the module: when a failure is reported but there is a previous pass on the architecture, it eliminates a whole class of errors.
An other option is to use cpanplus (I don't), and to activate the test reporting option.
BTW, I test modules on quite a few versions of perl before a release. So I would have posted more results, if cpantestet had the option to report tests for other versions of perl than the default one. Saddly this is not available (yet?), and I don't like editing the emails it generates by hand, I don't trust my typing skills.