Time for a short status update on my work on the openstreetmap-website codebase. It’s been a few months since I started refactoring the tests and the work rumbles on. A few of my recent coding opportunities have been taken up with other projects, including the blogs aggregator, the 2017 budget for the OSMF Operations Working Group (OWG), and the new OWG website.
With the fixtures refactoring I’ve already tackled the low-hanging fruit. So now I’m forced to tackle the big one – converting the Users fixtures. The User model is unsurprisingly used in most tests for the website, so the conversion is quite time-consuming and I’ve had to break this down into multiple stages. However, when this bit of the work is complete most future Pull Requests on other topics can be submitted without having to use any fixtures at all. The nodes/ways/relations tests will then be the main thing remaining for conversion, but since the code that deals with those changes infrequently, it’s best to work on the User factories first.
As I’ve been working on replacing the fixtures, I’ve come across a bunch of other things I want to change. But before tackling all that I’m going to mix it around a bit. My goal is to alternate between the work I think is the most important, and also helping other developers with their own work. We have around 40 outstanding pull requests and some need a hand to complete. There are plenty of straightforward coding fixes among the 250 open issues that I can work on too. I hope that if more of the issues and particularly the pull requests are completed, this will motivate some more people to get involved in development.
If you have any thoughts on what I should be prioritising – particularly if you’ve got an outstanding pull request of your own – then let me know in the comments!
The codebase that powers OpenStreetMap is older than any other Rails project that I work on. The first commit was in July 2006, and even then, that was just a port of an existing pre-rails system (hence why you might still see it referred to as “The Rails Port”)
It’s a solid, well-tested and battle-hardened codebase. It’s frequently updated too, particularly its dependencies. But if you know where to look, you can see its age. We have very few enduring contributors, with is surprising given its key position within the larger OpenStreetMap development community. So I’ve been taking a look to learn what I can do to help.
For someone just getting started with Rails, they’ll find that many parts of our code don’t match what’s in any of the books they read, or any the guides online. More experienced developers will spot a lot of things that were written years ago, and would nowadays been done differently. And for some of our developers, particularly our Summer of Code students, they are learning what to do by reading our existing code, so our idiosyncrasies accumulate.
I started trying to fix a minor bug with the diary entries and a bunch of things struck me as needing a thorough refresh. I started the process of refactoring the tests to use factories instead of fixtures – 2 down, 37 to go. I’ve started rewriting the controllers to use the standard rails CRUD method names. And I’ve made a list of plenty of other things that I’d like to tackle, all of which will help lower the barrier for new (and experienced) developers who want to get stuck into the openstreetmap-website code.
I hope that progress will snowball – as it becomes easier to contribute, more people will join in, and in turn help make it even easier to contribute.
But it’s time-consuming. I need help to share these projects around. If you’re interested, please get stuck in!