Perl QA Hackathon report (#perlqah2016)

Thank you to all the people who sponsored the Perl QAH hackathon and all those that provided their time. It was a very productive environment for a lot of projects.

I worked on 2 primary things relating to PAUSE permissions. PAUSE (indexing) itself and a new module for testing that permissions are consistent named Test::PAUSE::ConsistentPermissions.

The permissions of distributions on CPAN are generally something you don’t think about until you become a co-maintainer of a distribution and you see red on search.cpan.org or metacpan.org. Then you discover that there is a system by which each module in your distribution is effectively owned by somebody, and that some others might also have been granted permission to upload a file.

Let’s take Test::DBIx::Class as an example. I’m a co-maintainer, and JJNAPIORK is the owner. There is also another Co-Maintainer.

Using the script from Test::PAUSE::ConsistentPermissions I can look at the permissions currently assigned.

$ pause-check-distro-perms Test-DBIx-Class Test::DBIx::Class
Distribution: Test-DBIx-Class
Module: Test::DBIx::Class
Owner: JJNAPIORK
Comaint: NEWELLC, PHAYLON

When I upload a new release of Test::DBIx::Class to PAUSE any new modules added will be given to me. So I will be owner and no-one will be Comaint. I then need to grant PHAYLON comaint (which I can do as owner), and then pass ownership back to JJNAPIORK.

There is an alternative mechanism involving a bit of metadata named ‘x_authority’. With that we could ensure that JJNAPIORK retains ownership of all the modules within the distribution. The downside of that is that while I would also gain comaint on those new modules as the uploader, PHAYLON would not. Since I wasn’t the owner either, I wouldn’t be able to assign him Comaint, and I would have to ask JJNAPIORK to do that instead.

I believe there were historically alternative methods for managing this, but PAUSE has been through some rationalisation and simplification of some features and those features don’t exist anymore.

I came to this hackathon wanting to work on this problem having encountered Karen Etheridge (ETHER)’s prototype Dist::Zilla::Plugin::AuthorityFromModule which suggested a potential solution.

We had a meeting with the interested parties at the hackathon about how we could deal with this scenario better. Ricardo Signes (RJBS) suggested that we could make use of the fact that there is a designated ‘main module’ for permissions. We could  use that for the defaults. This is one step better than the previously suggested solution as it makes use of some of the previous rationalisation of PAUSE permissions and won’t require authors to provide extra metadata. This should mean that permissions are much more likely to just work out of the box.

With that potential solution suggested RJBS gave me some assistance to get working on the PAUSE indexer. I started with adding tests, then wrote the code.

The change made so far is very minimal, only affecting the indexing of new packages. No changes have been made to the user interface, or the complex permissions you can currently end up with. The pull request is here – https://github.com/andk/pause/pull/222. Note that it also benefits from Peter Sergeant (Perl Careers)’s work to hook the PAUSE tests into Travis giving it a green tick indicating the tests passed.

The other thing I worked on was Test::PAUSE::ConsistentPermissions to allow us to check that a distribution has consistent permissions. I created a script for checking a distro on PAUSE (not too dissimilar to Neil Bowers App::PAUSE::CheckPerms module) and a test function for using a distro’s release tests. This is a bit like Test::PAUSE::Permissions, but rather than check whether you have permission to upload the distribution, it checks whether the permissions are consistent. These two properties don’t necessarily coincide.

During the event I was also able to create a couple of minor pull requests.

Here’s the obligatory thank you to the full list of sponsors. Thank you all.

The sponsors for the Perl QA Hackathon 2016,

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