There's more than one bug tracker for CPAN

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Diversification in bug tracking has come to the CPAN. Module users cannot assume that the bug tracker for an individual module is at rt.cpan.org. Before submitting bug reports, users should check the distribution's page on search.cpan.org for a link to the bug tracker, and also check the documentation for the module. When in doubt, go with the documentation.

It used to be simpler....

Over ten years ago, when CPAN only had a few thousand distributions, and free project hosting was Sourceforge or nothing, Jesse Vincent stepped up to create rt.cpan.org. It was, and is, a fantastic service. Module authors now had free, centralized bug reporting that they didn't have to maintain themselves.

Jesse's RT setup also has the advantage of integrating with PAUSE and the CPAN. CPAN is the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network, and PAUSE is the Perl Author Upload Server. When a module author has a distribution for release, she uploads the file to PAUSE. From there, the servers that make up the network part of CPAN mirror the file for your use. Jesse set up RT to check the PAUSE for new distributions, and when one was found, RT would automatically create a bug queue for that module. It's still a fantastic system, and we should all thank Jesse for maintaining it.

For years, the Perl community has been enjoying the fruits of rt.cpan.org. It's become part of Perl culture. The home page for each module on search.cpan.org includes links to the RT page. When authors create modules with Module::Starter, the module's documentation refers the reader to the specific bug queue. People just knew that it was there. Everyone knew you could email to bug-distro-name@rt.cpan.org to have a bug reported.

But RT has never been the the only bug tracker available, and the alternatives are getting more and more use. SourceForge has had bug tracking for quite a while, but when Google Code came out with project hosting and bug tracking, things started changing. Now, Github has taken the Perl world by storm. For the first time ever, we module authors had solid alternatives to RT that we didn't have to create ourselves.

That leads us to today, where the Perl world is continuing to diversify. Module authors can choose the bug tracking system that suits them, and their users, best. That system may no longer be RT.

Which bug trackers are getting used?

When I checked last week, I found 106 distributions that were using bug trackers other than RT, spread across 10 different domains.

For example:

  • http://code.google.com/p/perldts/issues/list
  • http://github.com/ap/Object-Tiny-Lvalue/issues
  • https://gna.org/bugs/?group=testautobuild
  • http://sdlperl.ath.cx/projects/SDLPerl
  • https://issues.apache.org/SpamAssassin/
  • http://sourceforge.net/tracker/?group_id=199719
  • http://padre.perlide.org/trac/
  • http://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/
  • https://openmelody.lighthouseapp.com/projects/26604-melody
  • http://www.veripool.org/ipc-locker-bugs

I was surprised the number of distributions was only 106. I suspect that there are many module authors who don't know how to specify an alternate bug tracker in their distributions. In my next article, I'll explain how to do that.

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