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Talk:Wikimedia Developer Summit/2017/How to manage our technical debt

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Session(s) on automated testing or refactoring?

KSmith (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I happen to have a personal interest in both automated testing, and refactoring. Refactoring is obviously more directly relevant to tech debt, but I view automated testing as a prerequisite for aggressive refactoring.

I'm not familiar with the details of our platform(s), but I would be willing to facilitate an open discussion on either of these topics.

Greg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

That could be interesting; a "basic prerequisites to paying down technical debt" type talk.

How would you see an open discussion about these topics going? Sort of a "let's talk about these things in the abstract and how they can help developers"? Or "what are the current tools available to Wikimedia Devs to help them in these areas"?

KSmith (WMF) (talkcontribs)

If it were a general discussion, I could be an active participant. If it were about specific tools, I would purely be a facilitator. Either could work.

RobLa-WMF (talkcontribs)

Title alternatives to "basic prerequisites to paying down technical debt"

  • "Argh...this is terrible! Why hasn't anyone fixed this yet!?!?!?!!?"
  • "No one seems to know what this module does. What happens if I just remove it?"
  • "Oh, that's why some people insisted on keeping that awful thing around"

@KSmith (WMF), I'm going to riff on this statement: you said you are "not familiar with the details of our platform(s)". Genuine question: if you had to pick one wiki page (presumably on mediawiki.org), which page would you suggest for someone wanting to learn the details important for learning automated testing for our platform(s)?

KSmith (WMF) (talkcontribs)
ZFilipin (WMF) (talkcontribs)
Greg (WMF) (talkcontribs)
KSmith (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Today is the deadline, and I don't have the energy to move this forward. If someone proposes something in this area, I would be happy to help with it.

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RobLa-WMF (talkcontribs)
RobLa-WMF (talkcontribs)
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AKlapper (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Is this really about "managing" or also about "dealing with and decreasing"? If the scope is not MediaWiki Core only, might case studies provide some insights? (Open question; maybe the answer is a clear "No".) Like killing AFTv5 in the past (still used by 3rd party sites; took a while to properly remove any traces on WMF sites), or unresolved tasks like "Deprecate EducationProgram extension" in Phab:T125618 ?

RobLa-WMF (talkcontribs)

I'm not sure I understand your first question. "Managing" is a synonym for "dealing with", and "decreasing" is only one of many strategies. Sometimes increasing technical debt is smart. Great software designers frequently decide that "kludgy but fast and functional" is better than "perfect when it's 'ready'". I also fully agree with @Greg (WMF)'s statement about scope: "Scope is not just MediaWiki Core or even just MW Core+Extensions, but everything (where 'everything' == 'things of concern in the Wikimedia development community')."

Greg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

1) Scope is not just MediaWiki Core or even just MW Core+Extensions, but everything (where "everything" == "things of concern in the Wikimedia development community"). So, explicitly this includes eg services like OCG.

2) I think case studies/lessons learned would be a great session (either of one or a couple, depending). I'd love someone who is closely familiar with the thing at hand to do it (probably not me, though I'd be more than willing to help prepare or even present if needed).

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