If you’re working with legacy code, chances are you’ve inherited some technical debt. Infact, if you’re working with code, chances you’re already surrounded by technical debt of varying sizes, at least by some measures.
Some believe that technical debt is something to be avoided, and that technical debt that exists is a dirty secret that should be hidden. The reality is that technical debt is a fact of life when code iteratively changes to deliver product solutions.
Striving for programming perfection is great in principle, but ultimately code is meant to deliver features, and there is always a good, better and best approach, with many other variations in-between.
Over the last year at Wikimedia Deutschland we have worked on refining how we record, triage, prioritize and tackle technical debt within the Wikidata and Wikibase product family.
There are many thoughts out there about how to track, tackle, and prioritize technical debt. This post is meant to represent the current status of the Wikidata / Wikibase team. Hopefully you find this useful.
Browser tests came up as a hot topic. A deep dive and some central analysis occurred seemingly correlation failures with “memory compaction” on VMs. This is out of our control, so we increased timeouts in some key areas.
MediaWiki-Docker-Dev (or MWDD) is a development environment for MediaWiki, based on Docker and docker-compose. It was created back in 2017 at the Wikimedia Hackathon in Vienna where it had a slightly difference feature set and focus. (Original Slides).
Since inception the git repo now has 180 commits from 20 authors over the course of 4 years, of which 7 have been WMF employees and 11 have been WMDE employees, though the project has had no “official” support from either organization. Counting forks we have 12 WMF employees and 16 WMDE employees.
Due to the nature of the project (being setup from a git clone), it is quite hard to figure out how many users it has. We can infer that in the last year, thanks to a custom image that has been required, it has been set up roughly 1200 times, by checking the pull stats of silvanwmde/nginx-proxy.
The number of Github repositories that I end up maintaining in one way or another ends up growing week by week. And keeping all of the descriptions and settings up to date in sync can be painful todo by hand.
A little while ago I migrated my addwiki project to use a monorepo, and thus needed to bulk update all of the github repository descriptions. While doing so I made use of the github cli and created a single bash script to let me configure all of the repositories at once.
Assuming you already have the github cli install and configured getting started with this is easy.
The below command is one of many in my bash script for repo configuration. This sets a description, homepage and various other flags that I want to be consistent across repositories.
gh api --method PATCH repos/addwiki/addwiki \
--field description='Monorepo containing all addwiki libraries, packages and applications'\
Recently I found myself altering some virtual images for loading onto a qemu machine. I wanted to increase the disk space on the root partition, but couldn’t find any straightforward guides. So here is a little guide for future me, and anyone else.
libguestfs is a set of tools for accessing and modifying virtual machine (VM) disk images. You can find details in the docs.
apt-get install libguestfs-tools
Create a new resized image
First you need to create a new empty image of the size that you want.
For me that is 20GB
truncate -s 20G ./out.img
Then use virt-resize to expand the existing disk to fill all of the space in the new image that we created. (virt-resize docs)
virt-resize --expand /dev/sda1 ./vm.img ./out.img
Verify it worked
libguestfs-tools also provides a way to view file system information by only using the image file. (virt-filesystems docs)
virt-filesystems --long --parts --blkdevs -h -a ./out.img
You’ll see something like this:
Name Type MBR Size Parent
/dev/sda1 partition 8320G /dev/sda
/dev/sda device - 20G -
During the first 3 months of 2021, some Wikimedia Deutschland engineers, from the Wikidata / Wikibase team, spent some time working on WBStack as part of an effort to explore the WBaaS (Wikibase as a service) topic during the year, as outlined by the development plan.
We want to make it easier for non-Wikimedia projects to set up Wikibase for the first time and to evaluate the viability of Wikibase as a Service.
This has lead to a few new Wikibase features being exposed through the WBStack dashboard for sites that run on the platform. These features are primarily features developed by the Wikibase team in 2020 and 2021. The work also brought some other quality of life improvements for the settings pages.
Here is a quick rundown of what’s new and improved.
WBStack is a platform allowing shared scalable hosting of Wikibase and surrounding services.
A year ago I made an initial post covering the state of WBStack infrastructure. Since then some things have changed, and I have also had more time to create a clear diagram. So it is time for the 2021 edition.
I have been thinking about writing a Twitter bot for some time and decided to copy this pattern running a cron based Twitter bot on Github Actions, with an added bit of free persistence using jsonstorage.net.
This is the question that I asked a group of around 50 people this evening as part of a food for thought exercise. 37 replied before I decided to write this blog post, and here is a quick summary…
The question was “If you bake 2 lasagnes, and then put one on top of the other, do you have 1 or 2 lasagnes?”
The answers ranged dramatically, and the group was fairly divided, but slightly leaning toward an answer of 1, with ~24 saying that you have 1 lasagne, and ~10 saying 2 lasagnes. Some of the answers were a bit vague and hard to stick into one of these categories.