This Week on p5p 2000/07/09



Notes

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Next week's report will be a little early, because I'm going to try to get it out before the big Perl conference. Then the following report will be a little late, because I will have just gotten back from the big Perl conference.

Bug Database

Alan Burlison reporterd a minor bug in h2xs, and pointed out that it had been fixed betwen 5.005_03 and 5.6.0, and also that there were at least three open tickets in the bug database that appear to have been resolved by this fix. He suggested that the database support an interest list for each bug, and send mail to everyone on the interest list when there was a status change for their bug. Richard Foley said he would look into this.

This led to a large discussion about the bug database and bug tracking generally. Simon said that he thought the entire bug system needed a complete overhaul. Specifically, he said he wanted to see the two (or three) bug databases replaced by a single database; ownership of tickets by people who are addressing the bugs, with automatic reversion to the `unowned' pile if the owner doesn't take some periodic action such as responding to an automatic email; weekly automatic reports to p5p on outstanding tickets and to ticket owners.

Richard Foley replied that some of this is in progress, or is easy. For example, other bug databases can send email into his perlbugtron to enter their bugs there. Also he can set up a cron job to sent p5p a weekly status report. But it's not clear that such a report would be useful unless someone cleas up the existing database, checking over all the outstanding bugs, closing the ones that are fixed in 5.6.0, weeding out the non-bugs, merging reports that appear to be the same bug, and soforth. Nat Torkington mentioned that he had started to do this a few months ago, but stopped, because the job is so big.

Nat then pointed out that this would be a good way for beginning p5p people to gain expertise. Sarathy agreed that the biggest problems appeared not to be technical, but that there is no bug champion who has taken responsibility for taking care of the database. I mentioned that I had been planning to take this up after the conference this month, and had been moving into the job stealthily by reportong on open bugs in these reports, and encouraging people to try to fix them. Several people volunteered to help categorize bugs and close tickets.

Alan Burlison described his imagined bug lifecycle.

Summary of Alan's ideas:

  1. The bug is reported.

  2. The bug is routed to the 'triage' person for its category.
  3. A registered bugfixer is assigned the bug from a queue or unassigned bugs.
  4. The bugfixer fixes the bug and mails in a patch.

Simon suggested that one way to prevent the problem from getting worse is to let people close tickets by email. If a bug fixer cc's their patch to an address like close-##bugid##@bugs.perl.org, that could automatically close the ticket. Richard appeared to be willing to support this.

Simon also mentioned that he is starting up a web site for discussion of the Perl source code and internals and nurturing of new Perl core hackers.

There was some discussion of alternate bug tracking systems, including Debian's, which is reputed to be good, but the consensus seemed to be that it was not appropriate for Perl.

Root of this thread.

buildtoc

Jarkko did some work on pod/buildtoc, which is the program that constructs the perltoc man page. He made a long list of pods that had been added but which were not in buildtoc's list of files to include. Jesús Quiroga sent his list of pods that are in the 5.6.0 distribution---there are 326 of them. There was some discussion about what to do with the many miscellaneous and platform-specific items, but no clear conclusion.

Jarkko also reordered the brief table of contents that is in perl.pod. I am glad; it was always embarassing to be teaching a class of Perl beginners, to proudly say ''Look, if you do man perl you get a list of the other manuals,'' and then to see three different versions of perldelta there at the top of the list. There was a little discussion about how to order the items, and about whether or not perlbook.pod should remain in the distribtution.

use namespace

Alan Burlison wants to be able to say

        use namespace Sun::Solaris;

and then have

        my $obj = Foo::Bar->new(...);

be interpreted as if he had written

        my $obj = Sun::Solaris::Foo::Bar->new(...);

instead. This is very similar to a suggestion that Michael King made last year, except that Michael also had some other ideas that were unpalatable.

Previous discussion.

Alan said he would be willing to try to implement this, but first he wanted to hear people's comments about whether it was advisable.

Graham suggested that the namespace pragma would not modify the meaning of constructions like this:

        my $obj = Foo::Bar->new(...);

but rather, only those that looked like this:

        my $obj = ::Foo::Bar->new(...);

Then you would still be able to use other modules, even in the scope of use namespace. He also pointed out that to work properly it would have to have a lexical scope. A bunch of other possible semantics were discussed, all of which seemed to me to be obviously The Wrong Thing.

There was a tangent discussion about the uses of __PACKAGE__.

Unicode Input Solution

Simon reported a clever suggestion from the Perl-Unicode mailing list. Some systems, such as Windows, store system data like directory entries in unicode. You'd like to flag such inputs as UTF8 when they are read in. The suggestion was to piggyback this atop the tainting mechanism. At present, there's a macro which, if taint mode is on, turns on the taint flag on the input scalar for every input Perl reads from any source. Simon posted a patch which extends the macro so that if use utf8 is in scope, and the string is a valid UTF8 string, Perl will also set the UTF8 flag on the scalar. Since presumably everything is already checked for taintedness when it's read in, this automatically puts the check for UTF8-ness everywhere also. Read about it.

tr/a-z-0//

I reported that this is equivalent to tr/a-y//, because the ranges are expanded inline from left to right, so the original tr becomes tr/abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz-0//, and then the z-0 is discarded (because there are no characters between z and 0. Sometime later, I sent a patch, and also sent a patch that forbids X-Y when X occurs after Y. The latter was already a fatal error in a regex character class; it turns out that the code for range parsing in tr is totally separate from the analogous range parsing code for regexes.

Patch #1. Patch #2.

Mutual use

Alan Burlison wanted to know what to do when he needs to have two modules, each of which uses the other. Various solutions were proposed, mostly of the form 'Don't do that'. THe currect answer in Alan's case was to factor out the part of B that was needed by A into a separate module, C, and have A use C and B use A.

sprintf tests

Sarathy pointed out a problem with Dominic Dunlop's excellent sprintf tests: Not all systems produce output with exactly two digits of exponent information, so many tests fail on Windows systems, for example. (The C standard only requires that there be at least two digits.) Dominic said he would think about what to do about this, but has not said anything about it since then.

Complex Expressions in Formats

H. Merijn Brand fixed a bug that he reported last month: Complex expressions like $h{foo}[1] were misparsed when they appeared in format lines.

Original bug report

The patch.

Thank you very much, Merijn!

Threading Failure Test Case

Lincoln Stein sent a smallish program that hangs inside the thread library. Persons wishing to be deemed heroic should investigate this.

Test case.

What does changing PL_sh_path do?

Bryan C. Warnock asked what would happen if he were to change PL_shell_path to point to some shell that was not Bourne-compatible. Nobody answered, possibly because nobody has tried before.

If Bryan reports back later I will mention it.

UNTIE Method

Brian S. Julin expressed a wish for an UNTIE method which would be called automatically when you untie a tied variable. I said I had wanted such a thing for a long time (since at least early 1998, apparently) but I did not provide a patch.

Sarathy Fixes a Bug that Nobody Knew Existed

Several, actually. Mostly memory leaks.

Thanks.

Various

A large collection of bug reports, bug fixes, non-bug reports, questions, answers, and a small amount of spam. The only flames were from that idiot who can't figure out how to unsubscribe. I'm sure you've met him before.

Until next week I remain, your humble and obedient servant,


Mark-Jason Dominus
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