Sunday, March 17, 2019

A mysterious failure in the test suite

There is currently a failure when we run:

$ go team
$ python test tests.test_notify.TestCase

The link to a ticket in a notification in this test has changed from “” to “” which causes the failure.

I might simply change the expected text since the difference seems harmless (both links work), but I can’t explain why this difference is there. Tonis, is this caused by one of your changes?

Zulip or Noi?

We are currently riding on two horses for our team communication: should we have our discussions on Jane or on Zulip?

Switching to Zulip is theoretically the wrong direction. Zulip is also just an application which could have been written in Lino. The Zulip developers did a lot of manual work just for reinventing basic UI concepts that are not covered by Django (choicelists, actions, permissions, …). The fundamental idea behind Lino is to be a framework which makes writing applications like Zulip more efficient.

Nonetheless we are considering this step. It has some advantages. It would increase our collaboration with the Zulip community. It would give us the know-how and application-level experience of a community who is more powerful than our little team. It would bring us features like a mobile app that are currently out of reach for us to develop, simply because we are only three full-time developers.

If we switch to Zulip, we should install and maintain our own Zulip instance. We are working on this. It is currently waiting for me because it requires an upgrade to Debian 9 and I must order a backup service, but I have a problem with signing into their control panel. (I sent them a support request yesterday.)

At the same time we work on Lino Noi and try to make it good enough for our team communication.

What means “good enough”? What do we need to optimize in Lino Noi if we want it to become a valid concurrent for zulip?

We must probably replace lino.modlib.memo.parser by markdown. The editor must have a list of users (to expand @) and a list of tickets (to expand #). My lino.modlib.memo.parser parser is a nice DIY gadget, but it has no future because it requires too much typing.

We actually don’t need instant notification in Noi. For questions like “Are you there?” or messages like “I will make an upgrade on server X in 10 minutes” we can use some standard IM service. This kind of messages is not important for future generations of Lino developers.

But questions like A mysterious failure in the test suite above are different. This question and the resulting discussion are potentially important for future Lino developers. Note that I say potentially. Because it is probably a very silly problem (which makes it a very good example for my thoughts), but you don’t know whether it is “a silly issue” or “a historic discovery” at the time of discussion. Such discussions usually don’t happen “instantly” because we are so distributed.

Such discussions are an important part of our work as developers, they are as valuable as the source code itself.

As long as I was the only full-time Lino developer, my blog was good enough for keeping track of these “discussions” because they were mostly monologues. They are “archived” on GitHub since 2009 where everybody can read them: When I had occasional feedback from some other developer, it was easy to copy the relevant information to my blog

In a team this approach is no longer realistic. It seems clear that we need to store our discussions in a database. That database should be able to export a static “archive view” of our discussions that needs just a browser to view.

Estonian VAT declarations for Così

I added a plugin lino_xl.lib.eevat. This is a quickly adapted copy of bevat, just removed the regimes that make no sense in Estonia. The declaration itself will need more work.

A Lino Così application no longer has a default VAT declaration plugin. To get them, you must add the following to your local file:

def get_installed_apps(self):
    yield super(Site, self).get_installed_apps()
    yield 'lino_xl.lib.eevat'

The pierre demo project now has no VAT declarations at all. apc has standard Belgian and cosi_ee standard Estonian declarations. Simplified Belgian VAT declarations is in lydia demo project.