ChangeLog: November 14, 2019 — Student Demos

This week’s ChangeLog is a bit different in focus. Instead of the work we’re doing, we want to talk about some of the work our students are doing.

Want to skip the text but see some cool demos? Scroll down!

Student Programs

For over a decade now, we’ve worked with hundreds of CS students eager to get their feet wet in the industry, mentoring them and giving them cool projects in Review Board to explore. Some have turned into features you use today (such as issue tracking and extensions).

There have been multiple programs over the years that we’ve worked with:

  • Google Summer of Code
  • UCOSP (a Canadian university program we were a part of for many years, now defunct)
  • Open Academy (an experimental university program ran out of Stanford, now defunct)
  • CANOSP (the phoenix rising out of the ashes of UCOSP, currently focused on the University of Alberta)

We’re currently working with CANOSP, piloting the program and mentoring a small group of students as they build some features and prototypes for Review Board.

This Semester

We have three students this semester: Adil Malik, Ceegan Hale, and Nicole Hagerman. They’re all working on various projects that improve the review experience:

  • Review UIs for XML, JSON, and Jupyter Notebooks
  • Hiding the content for minified files in the diff viewer, by default
  • Supporting binary files in the diff viewer

These projects are considered prototypes at this stage. We’re hoping they’ll make it into a release sooner rather than later, but a big part of this work is seeing how feasible these ideas are and what sort of work still needs to be solved before rolling it into production.

XML, JSON, and Jupyter Notebook Review UIs

Adil and Nicole are both primarily focused on the Review UIs, working together on some aspects to beef up the Review UI capabilities under the hood.

Adil built a Review UI for XML files (letting you diff the tree structure, and providing options for changing how that tree is rendered). He’s also been working on a Jupyter Notebook Review UI, playing with ideas for how these would be rendered, diffed, commented on, etc.

Hey, if you’re interested in Jupyter Notebooks, he’s looking for feedback.

Nicole built a Review UI for JSON files, the counterpart to the XML Review UI. To allow for custom rendering options required by both, Nicole’s been building out our baseline Review UI support, allowing them to define utility URLs that can, for instance, re-render parts of content based on the toggle of a checkbox. Adil’s been working with her on the client side of this.

Binary Files and Minified Files in the Diff Viewer

Ceegan’s been building out a feature that we’ve been wanting to bring for a long time. Years back, when we first wrote Review UIs, we intended to use them in the diff viewer so that images, PDFs, etc. that are part of commits could be reviewed without having to upload a separate file attachment.

The base of this work existed in Review Board but was never completed. There were still some missing pieces, problems to solve. That’s what Ceegan’s focusing on: Prototyping the rest of this, getting binary files in the diff viewer working so we can see what’s left.

To get his feet wet, Ceegan built another really useful feature that will make web app developers out there happy. Minified files (*.min.js, *.min.css, etc.) no longer show up as a giant wall of text. Instead, we note to the reviewer that it’s a minifed file and they might not care about it but they can click to see the content. Just like with deleted files.

Demos!

Throughout the semester, we have our students put together demo videos showing off and talking about their work up to that point. We’ve recently completed the Demo 2 milestone, so we have a nice batch of videos to show off.

All videos are uploaded to our YouTube channel. Subscribe to keep up with content as we upload it.

And here are the videos this semester:

Adil Malik

Ceegan Hale

Nicole Hagerman

Wrapping Up

Our students work really hard for their projects, so if you have anything encouraging to say, you’d make their day by saying it on their videos 🙂

We’re hoping to get these in shape to land as part of Review Board 4.0 and 5.0, but it depends on the work that remains once the semester is over.

That’s it for this week, though. If you have any questions, or anything you’re curious about and want us to cover, please reach out on our community forum.

We’re also on reddit /r/reviewboard, Twitter, and Facebook, and of course YouTube if you want other ways to keep up with the latest.

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ChangeLog: November 7, 2019 — Multi-Repo Diffs, Admin UI, and RBCommons

This week in ChangeLog, let’s talk about three projects we’ve been working on this week:

  • Multi-repository diffs
  • The latest administration UI improvements
  • Billing improvements and user roles in RBCommons

Multi-Repository Diffs

It’s pretty common to work with a lot of repositories at the same time, linking them together using Git submodules, SVN externals, or some other method. Sometimes you need to make changes across many repositories at once, and it’d be helpful to post those changes as one review request.

The problem is that diffs made across repositories aren’t always so useful. Not only do they generally lack repository information for each file, but Review Board itself assumes a single repository per review request. This matters because in order to show the diff viewer, Review Board needs to load each source file from the repository before it can apply the diff.

We’re trying to work toward multi-repository diff support as part of Review Board 4.0. Our existing DVCS work got us part-way there. The remaining pieces are/were:

  1. Updating our diff parsers to allow additional information (such as repository details) to be extracted and stored
  2. Updated our FileDiff model (representing a parsed file from a diff) to link to a Repository, and updating code to use that instead of ReviewRequest.repository
  3. Getting this information into diffs

Step 1 is done as of this week, and step 2 is mostly done. Step 3 is where things get interesting.

We talked last week about DiffX, our initiative to make diffs better. We’re hoping to start using DiffX from within RBTools and to inject repository information into the diff.

This is a longer-term goal, though. We’re exploring some options shorter-term, and talking to one vendor about natively providing this information in diffs they generate.

So will this be usable in Review Board 4.0? Kind of. We should have the core functionality all done, but not much may take advantage of this at first. Long-term, we’ll introduce multi-repository diff support for more types of repositories, and it’ll be amazing.

Administration UI Updates

Another week, another batch of screenshots to share of the new administration UI. We’ve completed the main database page and the Change List page, which lists all changes made to the database for a specific type of model (table).

These build upon new CSS components coming to 4.0, which offer slide-out action drawers and filters for datagrids, inline warning/error/info alerts, and more goodies that extension authors can use for their own projects.

Next up are the Settings and Change Form pages, which allow for making changes to models in the database.

Once these are done, we get to upgrade Django!

RBCommons Roles and Billing Updates

RBCommons, our Review Board SaaS, has received a lot of our attention lately. Particularly in the areas of billing, team administration, and sign-up.

Much of this work is based on customer feedback. As RBCommons has grown, our user base has moved from primarily Silicon Valley startups to an international community of companies, organizations, and educational institutions of all sizes. And some of those need a bit more from us when it comes to how they manage their teams and handle billing-related matters.

As part of our plans, we’re working on:

  • Splitting the existing Team Administrator role into three new roles:
    1. Team Owner (capable of making all changes to an account, including cancelling and changing plans)
    2. Team Administrator (capable of managing users, repositories, review groups, etc., but cannot manage anything billing-related)
    3. Billing Contact (can view invoices, change payment information, and receive billing-related e-mails, but nothing else)
  • Improving our invoices, showing more useful information to help users better meet any company-internal, regulatory, or tax requirements they might have
  • Adapting our billing process to work better with credit card billing changes that are or will be going into effect in some countries, to ensure these customers’ payments go through without any headaches
  • Improving the sign-up flow, to help get teams up-and-running a bit faster

We’ll talk about all this in more detail later when we launch our next big update to RBCommons.

Next Week

We’ll have more Administration UI work to show off, and with it a new collection of CSS Components to talk about. We’ll also go over what our CANOSP students from the University of Alberta have been up to.

If you have any questions, or anything you’re curious about and want us to cover, please reach out on our community forum.

We’re also on reddit /r/reviewboard, Twitter, and Facebook, if you want other ways to keep up with the latest.

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