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UCOSP 2010 Project Screencasts

Starting in September of this year, we've been participating in UCOSP (Undergraduate Capstone Open Source Projects), a wonderful program similar to Google's Summer of Code where students at various universities in Canada participate in open source projects for school credit for four months.

This term, we had six fantastic students working on a variety of exciting projects, many of which are landing in the upcoming 1.6 release. They just wrapped up with some screencasts demoing all the work they've done. I'd like to introduce these students and share these screencasts. In no particular order...

Kevin Quinn

Kevin worked on a variety of usability enhancements to the web UI:

  • Entering an invalid user or group in the reviewer list now presents a temporary inline error message telling you that the user/group wasn't found. It was easy before to typo a name and not realize you've done that right away, and this should solve that problem.
  • Old reviews are now collapsed, shortening long review request pages. The way this works is that any reviews that you have already seen that predate the most recent update to the review request will be collapsed, unless that review has had a reply since you last visited the page. Any collapsed review can be expanded to see the full discussion.
  • A new one-click "Ship It!" button was added next to the "Review" button that makes it dead simple to post a review that approves the change. This is great when you don't have any comments, as it speeds up giving approval on the review request.
  • The user page has been vastly improved. Currently, when viewing the page for a user, we only show the outgoing review requests, but with Kevin's new change, we now show some information about the user, as well as their Gravatar.
  • When hovering over a username (both the the review request's submitter name or the author of a review), a little info bubble pops up with some information on the user. This is a mini version of the user page, and is extremely useful information to have on hand.

Wow, that's a lot of nice additions. In his own words:

Lianne Lavole

Lianne's project was to take the existing code for Webhook support written during Google Summer of Code two years ago and package it into an extension. This was originally developed as a piece of Review Board, but we decided it would be better off as an optional extension. Lianne's project was a good test of our extension framework, and gets us a huge step closer to making Webhooks available for everyone. Of course, because it's an extension, it requires the experimental extensions branch, which we'd like to focus on after 1.6.

For those not familiar with Webhooks, they're a mechanism that sites can use to notify other sites or scripts when some event has taken place, using HTTP POST requests to one or more URLs. For example, posting a new review request could post an update on some internal dashboard, or on Twitter, or to CIA. This should be a useful feature for many admins and projects out there.

Awesome, isn't it? I'm personally looking forward to using this in our project's own Review Board install.

Lindsey Sawatzky and Brendan Curran-Johnson

Lindsey and Brendan worked together on a joint project to provide a full-fledged Python client API for Review Board. Today, any clients out there have to hand-roll their own support for our APIs, including our own post-review script. By providing an actual API, third parties, and ourselves, will be able to do more integration with Review Board.

Along with the new API, they also developed several new utility scripts for working with review requests. These will serve as a replacement for post-review, eventually. For example, they have scripts to open review requests, close them, create and update, upload screenshots, apply patches to the working tree, and more.

The scripts work like git commands, for those familiar with them. There's a main "rb" script, and the first parameter to it is the actual command to use. These can even be custom ones in your path, making it easy to create scripts that naturally fit in with our own collection of scripts.

We'll be getting this into a future release of RBTools, and migrate post-review over to using it. Should make your custom hook scripts and other points of integration way easier to write!

Laila Agaev

Laila had two projects this term. The first will put a smile on any Windows Review Board administrator's face. She has written a full Windows installer for Review Board, making it easy to get up and running face with minimal fuss. It handles the installation of the various bindings for databases, code repositories, and more. I'm hoping we can make this official in our 1.6 release.

Her second project was file upload support. With her change, you can upload any type of file into Review Board, download the files, and comment on them. It's a much requested feature. Developers could upload artwork associated with the change to open source projects, or log files for unit tests, or whatever.

I know some companies have been asking for this for quite a while, so we'll work to get this into 1.6.

Hongbin Lu

Hongbin worked on another often-requested feature: the ability to update bug trackers when a review request is created. This is an extension that works with Google Code and Bugzilla (with some optional Bugzilla plugins installed) and can update any associated bugs when a new review request is created or when a review request has been updated to point to a bug.

Again, since it's an extension, people will have to wait for the extensions branch to land, but hopefully that'll only be in another release or two. I expect bug tracker integration to be one of the top downloaded extensions then.

Thanks!

I want to thank all our students for their hard work this term. You've all done excellently and I'm thrilled that so much has been accomplished this term.

Special thanks to Mike Conley. Mike was a student in the last Google Summer of Code, and took on most of the mentorship and coordination in UCOSP on behalf of Review Board this term. I don't know how we would have ever done it without you, Mike!

And of course, thanks to Karen Reid, Andrew Louis, and everybody else at UCOSP! We loved participating this term, and greatly look forward to next term!