Day 13 – Helping the Github Action elves

As a Raku Programming Language module developer, you are sometimes surprised by the tools that you use. In this case, yours truly was surprised by a recent update of the excellent App::Mi6 tool by Shoichi Kaji. After an upgrade, it started adding a .github/workflows/test.yml file to new distributions. And this in turn caused Github to test the distribution after each commit using Github Actions. Which is great, especially if it finds problems!

So what did this file consist of?

    name: test

    on:
      push:
        branches:
          - '*'
        tags-ignore:
          - '*'
      pull_request:

    jobs:
      raku:
        strategy:
          matrix:
            os:
              - ubuntu-latest
              - macOS-latest
              - windows-latest
            raku-version:
              - 'latest'
        runs-on: ${{ matrix.os }}
        steps:
          - uses: actions/checkout@v2
          - uses: Raku/setup-raku@v1
            with:
              raku-version: ${{ matrix.raku-version }}
          - name: Install Dependencies
            run: zef install --/test --test-depends --deps-only .
          - name: Install App::Prove6
            run: zef install --/test App::Prove6
          - name: Run Tests
            run: prove6 -l t

Quite a lot of YAML in there! But the gist is basically clear: run the tests of this module on the latest Ubuntu / MacOS / Windows operating systems, and use the latest Raku version for that. It was really great to see how easy it was to automatically get Continuous Integration support for your module.

And of course, as a module developer, you will get a notice (an email in this case) if testing of a module would fail. That’s how I found out that many modules that rely on NativeCall-calls to C-library functions that depend on POSIX semantics, will simply fail on Windows.

Loving the green lights

It’s always great to see green, like in the test results of Hash::LRU. But something struck yours truly: more than 5 minutes for testing? Looking at the timing of each step shows that the “Install App::Prove6” step took over 3 minutes! While the actual tests of the module only ran for two seconds. It looked like there was a lot of overhead involved, especially if a module did not have any external dependencies.

Now, when I am testing out modules locally, I usually do it like this:

    raku -Ilib t/01-basic.t
    # or whatever test-file that shows a problem

Why? Well, really because this allows one to directly add any debugging code to the test-file in case of failures, to more easily track the bug down. And if there’s an execution error, --ll-exception usually gets added to the call as well to get a more revealing backtrace, like so:

    raku -Ilib --ll-exception t/01-basic.t
    # make sure we get a *full* backtrace

However, if Continuous Integration testing comes up with an execution error, then you don’t get a full backtrace usually, which often does not help tracing the issue. Especially if you cannot reproduce the problem locally.

Making things faster, better and more economic

So, why not embed this manual workflow in a nice script, and add that to the distribution? And make sure that only that script gets run? That seems like an easy idea to implement. And it was! The script (called run-tests) basically became (slightly shortened for this blog post):

    my @failed;
    my $done = 0;

    for "t".IO.dir(:test(*.ends-with: '.t' | '.rakutest')).map(*.Str).sort {
        say "=== $_";
        my $proc = run "raku", "--ll-exception", "-Ilib", $_, :out, :merge;
        if $proc {
            $proc.out.slurp;
        }
        else {
            @failed.push($_);
            if $proc.out.slurp -> $output {
                say $output;
            }
            else {
                say "No output received, exit-code $proc.exitcode()";
            }
        }
        $done++;
    }

    if @failed {
        say "FAILED: {+@failed} of $done:";
        say "  $_" for @failed;
        exit +@failed;
    }

    say "\nALL {"$done " if $done > 1}OK";

And the final 6 lines of the YAML file were changed to:

      - name: Run Tests
        run: raku run-tests

Total timing of testing the Hash::LRU module typically dropped to below one minute. That’s a lot of time and CPU cycles saved! Of course, this will be less time saved if there are dependencies that need to be installed. But the shorter turn-around time, as well as seeing complete backtraces if something goes wrong, have definitely helped yours truly! And as a bonus, testing locally has now also become easier and cleaner, especially if all goes well:

    Welcome to Rakudo(tm) v2020.11.
    Implementing the Raku(tm) programming language v6.d.
    Built on MoarVM version 2020.11.

    Testing Hash-LRU
    === t/01-basic.t

    ALL OK

So should you copy this test-file to your distribution and adapt the Github Actions YAML accordingly? Perhaps. But perhaps it is better to find out what works best for you as module developer. And build on this idea. Perhaps start by copying the run-tests script and adapt it to your liking. Whatever works best for you!

New to Raku?

If you’re new to Raku, you might appreciate some explanation of what the run-tests script actually does. So here goes:

    my @failed;
    my $done = 0;

Sets up an array @failed for keeping the names of test-files that failed somehow, and a $done counter for the number of test-files that were done.

    for "t".IO.dir(:test(*.ends-with: '.t' | '.rakutest')).map(*.Str).sort {

This may be the hardest to grok if you’re new to Raku. What it does, is that it basically looks into the “t” directory "t".IO, then starts looking for files .dir( that either have the “.t” or “.rakutest” extension :test(*.ends-with: '.t' | '.rakutest')), change the resulting IO::Path objects to strings .map(*.Str), then .sort these and loop over them for ... {.

        say "=== $_";
        my $proc = run "raku", "--ll-exception", "-Ilib", $_, :out, :merge;

Show which test-file is being tested say "=== $_"; and run the actual actual test file run "raku", "--ll-exception","-Ilib", $_, and make sure that its STDOUT and STDERR output become available as a single stream :out, :merge; and put the resulting Proc object into my $proc.

        if $proc {
            $proc.out.slurp;
        }

If the run of the test file was successful if $proc, then simply eat all output and don’t do anything with it $proc.out.slurp.

        else {
            @failed.push($_);
            if $proc.out.slurp -> $output {
                say $output;
            }
            else {
                say "No output received, exit-code $proc.exitcode()";
            }
        }

If not successful else, then add the name of the failed test file to the list of failed tests @failed.push($_). If there was any output if $proc.out.slurp, store it in a variable -> $output and show it to the world say $output. If there was no output else, let the world know there was none with the exitcode say "No output received, exit-code $proc.exitcode()".

        $done++;
    }

Remember that we’ve done a test-file, regardless of whether successful or not $done++.

    if @failed {
        say "FAILED: {+@failed} of $done:";
        say "  $_" for @failed;
        exit +@failed;
    }

If there was any test-file that failed if @failed, tell the world how many failed say "FAILED: {+@failed} of $done:"and show the names of the test-files that failed say " $_" for @failed, and then exit the script indicating an error state exit +@failed in concordance with the TAP-protocol.

    say "\nALL {"$done " if $done > 1}OK";

If we made it here, it’s been all ok, so show that with the number of files, but only if it is more than one "$done " if $done > 1.

Some more information on the Raku features used in this program: .IO.dir.map*.Str.sortrunProcexit.

Conclusion

With a little bit of work, you can make it easier for yourself and the Github Action elves. And be more considerate of the environment as well, as too many elves working too hard is not good for the environment!

7 thoughts on “Day 13 – Helping the Github Action elves

      1. In my project a fresh installation of the (CPAN) modules used takes between 7-10 minutes on GitHub actions for the modules listed in META6.json, see https://github.com/oposs/agrammon/blob/master/.github/workflows/backend-and-models.yml
        Those modules must be installed on every single GitHub actions run. By caching the .raku directory (where the modules are installed to), this step can be skipped unless META6.json changes. This makes the GitHub actions run finish 7-10min faster, but even installing App::Prove6 becomes affordable (if one really wants it, your script seems a good alternative).
        Of course, caching the Raku modules doesn’t make running the actual tests any faster 🙂

        Like

  1. I found the same problem with installing dependencies. It easily dominated the total time for the workflow — for example total time for workflow with one of my modules is 265 seconds without caching, 46 seconds with caching

    I hacked together a few workflows before Raku/setup-raku existed a few months ago. I tried a number of approaches, so I collected them in a workflow module — See https://github.com/pmqs/Raku-GitHub-Workflows

    None are as slick as Raku/setup-raku – must add it to the module.

    Liked by 1 person

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