GSoC 2014 Progress: Coding Period Starts!

In the last two weeks, I have started coding for the “Mochitest Failure Investigator” GSoC project (Bug 1014125). The work done in these two weeks:

  • Added mach support for –bisect-chunk (this option is used if a user wants to explicitly provide the name of the failing test). This would help in faster debugging locally.
  • Wrote a prototype patch in which I coded two algorithms namely, Reverse Search and Binary Search. As the name suggests, Reverse Search is used to split all the tests before the failing test in 10 chunks and iterate over each chunk till the failing chunk is found. Once, the failing chunk is found each test in that chunk is iterated again to determine the test causing the failure. Binary Search on the other hand split the tests in halves and iterates over each half in a recursive way to find the failure point.
  • The mochitest test harness did not support random test filtering but only supported sequential tests filtering, that is, if we needed to run “test1”, “test2” and “test99” we could not do that and we had to run all the tests for 1 to 99. So, I initially implemented the algorithm such that tests are run in sequential way, however this method was not optimal as a lot of unnecessary tests were run again and again.
  • Next, I optimized both the search methods and added support for running random tests in the mochitest test harness. This was done by filtering the tests that were added to tests.json when the profile was created.
  • I re-factored the patch on  :jmaher’s recommendations and made the code more modular. This was followed by testing the patch for the sample test cases that I had initially developed on the try server  for mochitest-plain, mochitest-chrome and browser-chrome tests.

The results on try were fantastic.

A typical binary search bisection algorithm on try looks like this:


A typical reverse search algorithm looks like this:

reverse-search-exampleThe “TEST-BLEEDTHROUGH” shows the test responsible for the failure. As we would expect, reverse search performs better than binary search when the failure point is closer to the failing test and vice-versa. The bisection algorithms took 20 mins on an average to compute the result.

How is all of this useful?

The contributors in mozilla spend large amount of effort to investigate test failures. This tool will help in increasing productivity, and saving on an average 4-6 hours of finding the test case down and also reduce the number of unnecessary try pushes. Once this tool is hooked up on try, it will monitor the tests and as soon as the first failure occurs, it will bisect and find the failure point. Also, we can use this tool to validate new tests and help reducing intermittent problems by adding tests in chunks and verifying whether they are passing and if not which tests are affecting the to be added test. We can also use this tool to find out the reason for timeout/crash of a chunk.

It has been quite exciting to tackle mochitest problems with :jmaher . He is an amazing mentor. In the coming weeks, I will be working on making the tool support intermittent problems and incorporating the logic of auto-bisection. Happy hacking!



The first month of Google Summer of Code

Already a month has passed since the start of Google Summer of Code 2014. As previously mentioned I had developed a test case to show a failure so that we can detect it. In the past month, most of my time was spent in familiarizing and researching on the existing mochitest harness. I researched about mochitest-plain, browser-chrome and mochitest-chrome. Mochitest plain tests are normal html tests without administrator privileges while chrome tests are the ones with administrator privileges. Browser chrome tests are similar to chrome tests but they control and run the user interface(UI) of the webpage.  Also, chrome tests depend on harness.xul while browser-chrome tests depend on browser-harness.xul, and browser-test-overlay.xul is used to provide an overlay to both type of tests. These files are entry points to the harness and deal with the UI of the tests.

Next, I learnt about test chunking(how the tests are segregated), manifest filtering(filtering the tests that have to be run depending on the command line options) and log parsing. It has been an interesting and a humbling experience to learn about the different things that hold together a  framework. Then, I started working on Bug 992911. Mochitests till now are run per manifest and this bug basically deals with running mochitest per directory and displaying the cumulative results(passed, failed, todos) at the end. The advantage of doing this is that we can determine how many tests are run in each directory and we get a great balance between runtime and test isolation. Joel Maher had already coded the basic algorithm for this functionality but there was a problem with log parsing and summarization. On his advice, I fixed up the log parsing and we could correctly display the cumulative number of pass/fail/todo tests and I also added mach support for ‘–run-by-dir’ command. The patch is almost done and we will very soon have this functionality.
In the coming weeks, I will start working on the tool for bisecting the chunks to find the failure point of a failing test. Stay tuned!

Selected for Google Summer of Code 2014!

I have been selected for Google Summer of Code 2014 and the project that I will be working on is Mochitest Failure Investigator (abstract) mentored by the awesome Joel Maher. Basically, this project aims at building a tool that will help contributors find the origin of test failures for mochitest on local as well as production machines, thus leading to accelerated development and debugging.

In the past few weeks, I have hacked and patched a couple of bugs for mochitest and am learning how the test harness works. I have started work on my GSoC project and I have developed a test case which is crafted to show a failure so that we can detect it. It is a simple test case in which I have set a dummy value to a fake preference and then checking afterwards whether it is the same. If it is so, then I make the test to fail. Now, the next step is to understand properly how the python and javascript harness of mochitest works together and I will spend this week doing the same.

I am really excited for this project and will write about my work regarding the project regularly.