Push it to the Limit – Completing the Code Freeze

This week we finished our code freeze for 0.5. Code freezes are important because a project always needs concrete and frequent updates because these help give it presence in the community. We brought up this very issue when discussing what the team was planning on doing with our upcoming 1.3 Popcorn.js release. It’s important for a project to maintain some sort of release schedule even if the fixes are minor because it helps it helps keep the project look like it’s active and not forgotten.

One of the big advances for this release has been better support for our flash players. Most of the features have all worked pretty well with HTML Video/Audio because Popcorn.js is designed to make use of the extensive library made available by Media Elements Draft, but our Youtube/Vimeo/Soundcloud players have always had issues. They prove to be difficult because they are either missing a lot of pieces of information available to us, meaning we are forced to hack in some sort of implementation or their API wasn’t ideally designed around the experience created by Popcorn.js. There have also been a lot of fixes in the background of the code ranging from simply refactoring for efficiency or better implementations of previous features such as our config files.

Monday and Tuesday this week were intense being the final two days before the code freeze (Tuesday). I spent time polishing up our manual tests, butters test harness, other quick fixes and review lots and lots of tickets. The two days we were like a well oiled machine, firing off fixes and reviews for tickets in quick order. In total we set 180 tickets to resolved/staged over the month of May with a lot of them being some feature rewrites to smaller bugs. Truthfully that number is misleading because a lot of our bugs were exposed by things with Popcorn.js itself, which caused us to file appropriate tickets there first, fix it and then finalize things over in Popcorn Maker land. Out of the 89 tickets that have landed for the 1.3 release of Popcorn, probably 60 of them were spawned in relation to Popcorn Maker. While this week was really intense, it also allowed me to gain basic grasps of more areas of the code. For example, I now have a pretty solid grasp on a lot of our server-side stuff with cornfield because of the rewrite of tests and time spent looking at that code.

That said, we still had to reduce things down. Tuesday morning we started off with something like 30 tickets left and by mid day it dwindled down to about 23. However the entire day we were fighting with our lack of solid testing in place because we would constantly find small bugs along the way and be forced to file them, fix them and then head back to some of the bigger ones we had already knew about. By 4pm we still had around 19 tickets left because of it, forcing us to quickly to do a mini triage and push some of these to our mini release of 0.5.1. That release is focused around integration of our current system with the Django front end that has been in development for some time and is due for June 15th.

One thing I really want to push and get in soon is some sort of back end for our manual tests. I spent some time today bringing together a basic implementation of it and thus far it is looking promising. One thing I definitely want to do is force the two requests I have added for cornfield to send information to a different server/database rather than using the on local to the machine it’s being hosted on. This way whether we are running our manual tests locally on our own machine or from a hosted version elsewhere everyone’s results are posted to the same places.

I’ve also put what I imagine are the final touches on our media spawner plugin. It’s funny because I originally started that way back in January to facilitate a feature being used in a project I was working on to have embedded content as events, which eventually scrapped the idea because they wanted to ensure people with lesser performing connections could view it all. That and tiny 5 to 10 second events didn’t really fit well with loading things like youtube or vimeo videos. Since then I have changed it numerous times because of various improvements to the Popcorn API (such as Popcorn.smart) to make it more efficient/robust. Eventually this plugin became pretty important to some of the templates Kate Hudson has been working on for various projects. Several months later and I think it’s finally ready to land 🙂

Been a crazy week, but there is still plenty more crazy to come. Till next time readers (A.K.A my Mom)!

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