mr mr cote

Educational, Investigative, and Absurd Writings by M. R. Côté

BMO Mid-2014 Update

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Here’s your mid-year report from the offices, basements, and caverns of BMO!


This year we’re spending a lot of time on performance. As nearly everyone knows, Bugzilla’s an old Perl app from the early days of the Web, written way before all the technologies, processes, and standards of today were even dreamt of. Furthermore, Bugzilla (including BMO) has a very flexible extension framework, which makes broad optimizations difficult, since extensions can modify data at many points during the loading and transforming of data. Finally, Bugzilla has evolved a very fine-grained security system, crucial to an open organization like Mozilla that still has to have a few secrets, at least temporarily (for security and legal reasons, largely). This means lots of security checks when loading or modifying a bug—and, tangentially, it makes the business logic behind the UI pretty complex under the hood.

That said, we’ve made some really good progress, starting with retrofitting Bugzilla to use memcached, and then instrumenting the database and templating code to give of reams of data to analyze. Glob has lots of details in his post on BMO perf work; read it if you’re interested in the challenges of optimizing a legacy web app. The tl;dr is that BMO is faster than last year; our best progress has been on the server side of show_bug (the standard Bug view), which, for authenticated users, is about 15% faster on average than last year, with far fewer spikes.

Bugs updated since last visit

Part of an effort to improve developer productivity, in June we rolled out a feature to give a new way for users to track changes to bugs. BMO now notes when you visit a bug you’re involved in (when you load it in the main Bugzilla UI or otherwise perform actions on it), and any changes to that bug which occur since you last visited it will show up in a table in My Dashboard. Read more.

Bugmail filtering

Another improvement to developer productivity centred around notifications is the new bugmail filtering feature. Bugzilla sends out quite a lot of mail, and the controls for deciding when you want to receive a notification of a change to a bug have been pretty coarse-grained. This new feature is extremely customizable, so you can get only the notifications you really care about.

BzAPI compatibility

There have been several broad posts about this recently, but it’s worth repeating. The original Bugzilla REST API, known as BzAPI, is deprecated in favor of the new native REST API (on BMO at least; it isn’t yet available in any released version of the Bugzilla product). If possible, sites currently using BzAPI should be modified to use the new API (they are largely, but not entirely, compatible), but at a minimum they should be updated to use the new BzAPI compatibility layer, which is hosted directly on BMO and sits atop the new REST API. The compatibility layer should act almost exactly the same as BzAPI (the exceptions being that a few extra fields are returned in a small number of calls). At some point in the not-too-distant future, we’ll be (transparently) redirecting all requests to BzAPI to this layer and shutting down the BzAPI server, so it’s better to try to migrate now while the original BzAPI is still around, in case there are any lingering bugs in the compatibility layer.

More stuff

As usual, you can see our current goals and high-priority items for the quarter on the BMO wiki page.