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[RCF] parallel-tests: removing the "check-html" target and the .log -> .

From: Stefano Lattarini
Subject: [RCF] parallel-tests: removing the "check-html" target and the .log -> .html conversion?
Date: Thu, 05 Jan 2012 19:27:11 +0100

Hello automakers.

The parallel-tests harness has provided, since the very beginning, built-in
support[1] for the generation of html files from the testcase-created `.log'

As far as I know, the main reason for which this built-in support exists is that
the features it provides were already present in the original "third-party" code
(from EPITA/LRDE and Gostai) from which the initial version of the 
harness derived[2].

But in my opinion, its presence in the automake core has not proved to be such
a good idea in the long term.  Here are the two most relevant grips I have with

 - The rules for the .log -> .html conversion use the `rst2html' program, which
   expects its input formatted as reStructuredText[3].  Now, it is true that 
   format is simple and unobtrusive enough that most "unformatted" text is also
   valid reStructuredText[4]; but unless the `.log' files generated by the test
   cases contain deliberate and meaningful reStructuredText directives, the
   resulting HTML will have no better structure or presentation than the raw log
   file (as a "make check-html" issued in many GNU projects will show).  In 
   in many cases the final presentation will be actually worse[5].

 - The support for the .log -> .html conversion must be documented and tested,
   thus adding more overhead to the already-big automake testsuite and manual.
   But a quick look at `lib/am/' shows it would be very easy to move
   the whole implementation of this conversion into a third-party .am fragment,
   which users still interested in HTML output could easily obtain and include
   in their files.

So, in conclusion, here is my simple proposal:

  1. We deprecate the support for HTML testsuite output in the documentation of
     the 1.11.3 release.

  2. In the 1.12 release, we remove it from the automake core, providing instead
     (in the automake tarball) an "extra" `.am' fragment that can offer a 
     (and hopefully completely equivalent) functionality.



-*- Notes -*-

[1] At least a `.log.html' suffix rule, and two higher-level rules `check-html'
[2] About the inception and implementation of parallel-tests in automake, see
    the much instructive discussion at
[3] <>
[4] This is not an accident, but the consequence of precise design choices; see
[5] For reference, I attach the `test-suite.html' generated by the automake
    testsuite upon an "make html-check".

Attachment: test-suite.html
Description: Text document

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