Thursday, March 13, 2014

Keeping ubuntu healthy: Core Apps

Continuing our discussion of testing within ubuntu, today's post will talk about how you can help the community core apps stay healthy.

As you recall the core apps go through a series of QA before being released to the store. However bugs in the application, or in the platform itself can still be exposed. The end result is that the dashboard contains tests failures for that application. To release a new stable image, we need a green dashboard, and more importantly we need to make sure the applications work properly.

Getting plugged in
So to help out, it's important to first plug into the communication stream. After all, we're building these applications and images as a community! First, join the ubuntu phone group on launchpad and sign up for the phone mailing list. The list is active and discussing all issues pertaining to the ubuntu phone. Most importantly, you will see landing team emails that summarize and coordinate issues with the phone images.

From there you can choose a community core app to help improve from a quality perspective. These applications all have development teams and it's helpful to stay in contact with them. Your merge proposal can serve as an introduction!

Finding something to work on
So what needs fixing? A landing team email might point out a failing test. You might notice a test failure on the dashboard yourself. In addition each application keeps a list of bugs reported against it, including bugs that point out failing tests or testing needs. For example here's the list of all new autopilot tests that need to be written for all of the core apps. Pick an app, browse the buglist, assign a bug to yourself, and fix it.

For example, here's the list of bugs for music app. As of this writing you can see several tests that need written, as well as a bug for a test improvement.

You can also simply enhance the app's existing testsuite by fixing a flaky test, or improving the test to use best practices, etc. As a bonus for those reading this near it's original publication date, we just had a session @ vUDS covering the core apps and the testing needs we have. Watch the session / browse the pad and pick something to work on.

Fixing things
Look into any failures you find and have a look at the tests. Often the tests can use a little improvement (or maybe an additional test), and you can help out here! Sometimes failures won't happen every run -- this is the sign of a weird bug, or more likely a flaky test.  Fix the test(s), improve them, or add to them. Then commit your work and submit a merge proposal. Follow the guide on the wiki if you need help with doing this.

Remember, you can iteratively run the tests on your device as you work. Read my post on click-buddy for help with this. If you are lacking a device, run the tests on your desktop instead and a reviewer can test against a real device before merging.

Getting Help
For realtime help, check out #ubuntu-quality and #ubuntu-autopilot on freenode. You'll find a group of folks like yourself working on tests, hacking on autopilot and sharing advice. If IRC isn't your thing, feel free to contact us through another method instead. Happy hacking!

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