Past and future

This last article is meant to reflect on the past, in the present, and speculate about the future, perhaps even - with the cover of darkness - offer some future plans, in quiet murmur, of course. :)


We all care about popularity. Popularity isn't just cool factor, it's also a measurement of success - doing well, going in the right direction.

But how do you measure popularity? It's hard.

We have different mechanisms made just to measure success. In our world that would Github stars, Github watchers, and even MetaCPAN votes. However, if you take a look at Moose, it only has 78 stars on Github, and only 15 watchers. Would you say Moose is less successful than Dancer? Not at all. This measurement simply is far from accurate.

However, there is another way to measure popularity.

One of my favorite and most respected authors provides the following comment in all of his projects:

All complex software has bugs lurking in it, and this module is no exception. If you find a bug please either email me, or add the bug to cpan-RT.

Complex software accumulates tickets. These are bugs, feature requests, failing tests, missing tests, questions, and so on. Hopefully authors will collect these in a ticket system like RT or Github.

The amount of tickets you have indicates how many of these came up. While some authors will open a staggering amount of tickets for their projects (which is nothing short of being thorough and responsible) and projects may have a devoted user who opens tickets upon tickets, most tickets are opened by the audience of users. The number indicates how many have used your software to a degree of contacting you, providing input, and found you or your project approachable and tried to help improve it.

You can count the number of tickets for a project, remove the core authors (and check for when they weren't core authors yet - it happens sometimes), normalize to amount of users opening the issues, and look at the numbers.

Dancer has two main repositories: Dancer 1 and Dancer 2. Together they have accumulated around 1,900 tickets. Yes, that's close to two thousand tickets. About 1,000 of them are pull requests. Yes, that's right. Over one thousand pull requests. Actually, my numbers are off. I only took into account Github. Dancer has been running on RT earlier and there's a quite a few there as well. That would also be off, because we accept tickets through any medium. We get them in personal emails, on the mailing list, at conferences, on IRC, and so on.

Beyond all measurements, I'd say we reached people. More importantly, I would say these people reached us. I cannot be more proud of this achievement.

I can talk about Booking using Dancer. I can talk about Shutterstock using Dancer. I can talk about MoonFruit, UK2, Tilt, FinanceJobs, PerlMaven, Geekuni, the Strehler CMS, and even a spiritual church and an anarchist library using Dancer.

I can talk about all of these, but that's not the great part. The great part is our contributors.

Contribution is key

Having someone contributing their time and skill is priceless. Contributors are the life-force of a project - not the core developers. Almost any core developer in Free and Open Source will undoubtedly tell you that development's gratitude is someone using it, thanking you for it, or better yet, improving it further by contributing something - a test, a documentation patch, or even opening tickets.

Except for Dancer's founder, Alexis (@sukria) Sukrieh, all Dancer core developers started as contributors. This includes yours truly and everyone else in the team. This hasn't changed since. We always saw and see ourselves simply as contributors with more responsibility.

Dancer has enjoyed the help of an astonishing amount of contributors. Overall, the Dancer project has received contributions from over 270 people. While this seems big it fails to account for many contributors and many forms of contribution. It's merely the number of recognized code committers.

Sam Batschelet organized the Dancer conference, Gabor Szabo took the Dancer website under his care, Peter Martini provided a Dancer Docker image, David Dick packages the project for Fedora, Paul Cochrane is working on improving the documentation for beginners, and there are numerous other examples for tremendous work done by the community.

Let me take a moment to thank you all for the work you've done and the work that you do, in the community and for the community.

So now, where is all of this heading?

What the future holds...

It's hard to say what the future holds for Dancer, but we do have quite a few plans.

The short list contains:

  • Thorough documentation overhaul
  • Improve the plugin system for Dancer2
  • Port all useful plugins to Dancer2
  • Rewrite fair portions of the testing suite
  • Many core cleanups
  • Additional functionality
  • Speed optimizations
  • Compatibility shims
  • Code linting

We even have some idea regarding features we want to introduce:

  • Full asynchronous support
  • Route naming
  • Chained hooks
  • Stronger command line tooling
  • More decoupling of components

As you can see, there are plenty of ideas and the opportunities are abound.

While we want to add some of these features as quickly as possible, we need to make sure we get them right, that we design them well, that we do not overlap with other features, and that we don't have to revert them.

In fact, what we need is your help.

I can promise some will be difficult to implement, some will take considerable time, and some will be like trudging through mud (especially any OS compatibility work), but above all, I can promise you will have a good time. :)

I would like to thank everyone for an amazing year. I hope to see you and work with you this new year and provide you all with another set of articles at the next Advent Calendar.

Have a merry Christmas, a wonderful Hanukkah, and a tremendous Festivus, for the rest of us!


This article has been written by Sawyer X for the Perl Dancer Advent Calendar 2014.


No copyright retained. Enjoy.

2014 // Sawyer X <>