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Re: [Orgmode] How you can help

From: Ben Alexander
Subject: Re: [Orgmode] How you can help
Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2008 15:55:41 +0100

Well, I was just looking at http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs-fr/UnitTesting

Unfortunately for me, I can't tell if Emacs comes with any builtin framework already, so I downloaded one of the many options listed on that page to my local site-lisp directory: http://www.wanglianghome.org/svn/test/test.el

The personal issue I have is that I'm on a Mac, using Aquamacs, and the command line version of emacs is a different binary, so there might be trouble when a test passes at the command line, but fails where it matters to me. I don't even make sure that org-mode is up to date at the command line. I thought it wasn't, but I just checked and now it is. Plus, I don't really understand internals of emacs (like basic internals: I understand point and mark, buffer and file, but not transient mark, indirect buffer, symbols vs strings, window vs tab vs frame)

The tutorial I'd need to write a test is one which lays out code I could copy and paste to do the following

* setup the test environment
  - create a test directory
  - create a sample test.org file
  - put the cursor in a particular place

* run the command we need to test
- hit the 'TAB' key, or C-c C-c (some folks might need to be reminded how to find out exactly what command is actually being run when you hit a keystroke. And some of me might need to be told what lisp-code to use when the keystroke runs different commands at different places in a file)
  - reformat a table
  - clock in/out
  - create the agenda
  - export .html .ics .dvi file
* How do we specify the correct result???
- check that the headline folded properly. What's the lisp code for getting the folded string as displayed? - check that the cursor is where it should be? especially when the cursor is near elipses... - check that the agenda is built properly. What's the lisp code for getting the agenda as a string? - check that the exported files are correct. Maybe the right suggestion is to run the export on two different files, so the test can focus on the 'diff' between them. That way different people who run the same test on different hosts can get the same result.

More experienced folks must suggest whether it's better to have the expectation of a test be specified as a string in the test code or as a separate file in the test directory. It might depend on context, so feel free to lay out three or four cases.

If even one kind of test for each of these 'cases' exists, hopefully we can encourage people to report bugs with the test. I mean, if people are already going through the effort to create the small sample org file to demonstrate their bug, and it's only a short (obvious) step to translating their english description of what should happen into equivalent lisp code.... that seems like a big temptation for someone to do it.

Plus it might help them convince themselves that it really is a bug, and not that they are going crazy.

I gotta move on for the day here, but I'll keep thinking a bit about this.

On 2008-Oct-23, at 15:20, Sebastian Rose wrote:

Hi Ben,

I cc'ed the list.

The tests I described in my email to the list are not automated. The
reason for that is my lack of (e)lisp knowledge.

BUT, they where easy to handle for non programmers. I think the little
test will make it to the worg site this week, when all private data is
removed. You could take a look at it by then. And: improve, improve,
improve... :-)

If you know of someone who knows how to do automated tests in elisp, or some technique, package, whatever, please post it to the list, so we all
can take a look at it and comment->decide something. This is _highly_

Ben Alexander <address@hidden> writes:
Sebastian Rose wrote:
5. I also think of little packages for testing parts of org.

I'm curious if you or someone else has any ideas for writing automated tests for org-mode. I haven't the foggiest idea how someone would write a test for the parts of org that control what is displayed on the screen. I mean, when the
bug is 'it doesn't look right' how can  you tell?

Believe me, my idea is the foggiest of all possible ideas ;-) (so where
my ideas of JavaScript some mounth ago), so I won't be of much help, I

Perhaps the git repository should have a small collection of small org- mode files that reproduce certain bugs? If there were some examples of how to create such a test, then perhaps bug reporters would find it much easier to
create them.

YES! Exactly. Every corner case an Org-file, every bug an Org-file.
_DATA_ for testing is something, everyone _can_ provide.

But git later, yes, maybe.

Since this would need Carsten to think and act on this, I feel Worg is a
nice place to start the first expieriments. We need Carstens power for
other things (when will Org-mode finaly wash my car? It's repeater- TODO,
but nothing happens!!!)

Basically, I'd try to keep the the testing as simple as possible, and
try to get elisp programmers to help with the code. We should try to
keep the hurdles for testers as humble (?) as possible, and put all
that's needed to be helpfull on one page in worg.

I recently discovered the very unautomated `(print object)' in the elisp
reference. Not everything can be done automated, maybe, but if I would
have known this stupid `print' function, I would know more about elisp
and some files in org already. And it would have been faster and easier
to create the two minor patches I wrote. This is, where the 'links to
elisp tutorials', 'tipps and tricks', 'emacs debugger' come handy.

Willingness to help is no problem, as the Org-community reveals. As for
me, it's often a lack of time and/or knowledge, that prevents it.

And the aim of all this is to help helping, in means of good and
detailed bug reports in the first place.

I do see some confusing issues due to different configuration files. So creating a test file might involve making sure org-mode doesn't read any
configuration (how do you do that?) and possible asking org-
mode to extract all the configuration variables it has right now and dump them
into a test file (...and how do you do that?)


Hm - to test without configuration, we already have `emacs -q'.
Dumping the variables is just a list of (print var) statements. A
(quite) complete list of variables could be extracted with grep?


grep -r defvar lisp/

Once we have such a list, we could set/reset some/all variables.

This will not be perfect, but could work reasonable well.

And yes, it would indeed be nice, to have elisp to reliably reset
emacs/org configuration, so one could do several different test in
sequence. Preferably they would _always_ run and dump all errors to some
file or buffer, even if one or more tests fail.

I think elsip provides funtionalities to handle those errors and skip to
the next test. This would be a huge step.

But still, we have to test with different _DATA_ too! The test I
described is just a quick hack I did to do the testing, while Carsten
was bug-hunting on the other end of my internet connection.

The XHTML-export test was much easier to do, then some other tests we
might need. In the end, it was a test, automated or not. And I had to do
it, because I'm one out of a few who use org to maintain a web-site
(locally in my case) and export an entire directory tree with lots of
_DATA_, use org-info.js, `#+SETUPFILE' lines, etc. , I believe. This
became obvious in this case. I was the one who even noticed the bug,
which means, no one else was using recursive XHTML export for a while,
or their setup didn't reveal that bug.

So clearly I was the one to provide some support for this very part of
the system. I can't rely on the assumption, that some maintainer has all
possible setups at hand all the time (maybe this was possible years

While the testing of the HTML-export was quite simple, it requires a lot
of _DATA_. Namly files and directories + different setups, per file
setups, #+SETUPFILE, images, with/without org-info.js, extra styles set or not... to have a realistic testing environment (the test didn't have
all of these...).

A summary could be, that it's nice to provide different setups for
maintainers and testers.

- *Easy to install* (unpack and done),
- *easy to use* ('emacs -q' and click a few [[elisp:]] links to set
  everything up)
- and *easy to download* once they are removed again (a central place on
- *Corner cases*, like the 'empty line before first heading bug' in the
  LaTeX exporter recently.


Sebastian Rose, EMMA STIL - mediendesign, Niemeyerstr.6, 30449 Hannover

Tel.:  +49 (0)511 - 36 58 472
Fax:   +49 (0)1805 - 233633 - 11044
mobil: +49 (0)173 - 83 93 417
Email: s.roseATemma-stil.de, sebastian_roseATgmx.de
Http:  www.emma-stil.de

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