Uptime caused minor downtime

February 7, 2008

About an hour ago you may have experienced what seemed like sporadic downtime as one of our slices went down. We were out of the office, but luckily our Twitter-based SMS alerts let us know. I called one of our users to do some pre-computer-access diagnostics during the drive back. His tests seemed to work fine, which meant our alert script could be broken or something else happened we hadn’t considered when building the automatic alert tests: one of the slices was down.

Sure enough, one of the slices had stopped working because of a memory leak in logging. It was a slow leak and it wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t had such consistent uptime recently. Luckily, we’re refactoring out the component that had the memory leak, so we don’t expect to see this happen again for a bit.


Email masking for anonymous users

January 24, 2008

This one has been coming for a long time. We now mask email addresses to anonymous users in a way that actually destroys the ability to use the email, while still making it obvious enough who the user is. I guess you could call it the Google approach. We take the last two characters off the username before the domain and replace them with periods, much like on Google Groups. For example:

joeblow@example.com becomes joebl..@example.com

This should hopefully help you feel safer using an email address as your username. We still intend to build an alias system so that you can have short, non-email usernames for your projects, but we have to put that one off for a bit.


RSS feeds for private projects work now

January 15, 2008

Assuming your reader can do basic auth, follow redirects, and store cookies… they should work. Besides some of the simple aesthetic changes done recently (and you might notice new free accounts have text ads), I spent a big chunk of today trying to get RSS feeds and iCal for private projects working. The problem was that Trac would not properly tell feed readers to send authentication credentials, so trying to add the URL would fail because of permissions.

Turns out a long while back a patch was made to help solve the issue by allowing any URL to be prepended with /login (for example /timeline would become /login/timeline) and this would prompt you to enter authentication credentials, log you in and redirect you to the appropriate URL.

This works, and should work for you with most readers. Unfortunately Google Reader and Calendar don’t seem to work with anything that requires authentication, but I tried with Netvibes and iCal.app and they work just fine. Let me know how it works with other readers.


What is DevjaVu even about?

December 27, 2007

As an introductory topic for our users forum, I’d like to pose the question: What is DevjaVu and Trac about?

It’s not exactly “project management” even if it does involve it. You might say “developer tools” but tell that to a developer and they’ll think compilers and editors. Sure it’s “issue tracking and version control” but that’s not all it is. Plenty of people have those things but don’t have what DevjaVu is.

So join us in a discussion about how to describe DevjaVu. As our users, you guys should know best!


New helpdesk and forum

December 20, 2007

We just launched a simple Helpdesk project that we’re going to be using in place of Mojo Helpdesk. Hopefully its wiki will grow into a useful user resource and support knowledgebase. We don’t have much on it now, but we’ll be adding some of the commonly discussed issues up there. Eventually we’ll get some sort of feature wish list poll on there too. Feel free to make changes to the wiki using your DevjaVu user account. All users have permission to work with the wiki and tickets.

We also launched a forum replacement using Google Groups. Since we don’t need a forum as featurefull as PunBB and the Troubleshooting section was being used for support issues when we have better channels, we’ve set up a simple discussion forum for users that wish to participate in community chatter. The old PunBB forum will be around for a while at forums.devjavu.com, but all links have been changed to point to forum.devjavu.com, which will take you the DevjaVu Users group.

By the way, we really like Google Groups and highly recommend it for your mailing list and forum needs. If you need several “forums” you can always create separate groups.


DevjaVu helps build the Development Abstraction Layer

December 20, 2007

I was just re-reading The Development Abstraction Layer by Joel Spolsky and, even though it’s exaggerated for effect, this long-winded example does a great job of showing how big of a difference using DevjaVu can make for your startup:

Programmers need a Subversion repository. Getting a Subversion repository means you need a network, and a server, which has to be bought, installed, backed up, and provisioned with uninterruptible power, and that server generates a lot of heat, which means it need to be in a room with an extra air conditioner, and that air conditioner needs access to the outside of the building, which means installing an 80 pound fan unit on the wall outside the building, which makes the building owners nervous, so they need to bring their engineer around, to negotiate where the air conditioner unit will go (decision: on the outside wall, up here on the 18th floor, at the most inconvenient place possible), and the building gets their lawyers involved, because we’re going to have to sign away our firstborn to be allowed to do this, and then the air conditioning installer guys show up with rigging gear that wouldn’t be out of place in a Barbie play-set, which makes our construction foreman nervous, and he doesn’t allow them to climb out of the 18th floor window in a Mattel harness made out of 1/2″ pink plastic, I swear to God it could be Disco Barbie’s belt, and somebody has to call the building agent again and see why the hell they suddenly realized, 12 weeks into a construction project, that another contract amendment is going to be needed for this goddamned air conditioner that they knew about before Christmas and they only just figured it out, and if your programmers even spend one minute thinking about this that’s one minute too many.

To the software developers on your team, this all needs to be abstracted away as typing svn commit on the command line.

With DevjaVu you can skip all of that and jump straight to svn commit. Not to mention everything else you get.


Spam protection engaged again

December 18, 2007

We finally got the spam filter working again. There may have been a bit of weirdness as our slices rotated into the new egg cache. Hopefully nobody got hit too badly. I really recommend anybody with a public project to disable anonymous ticket creating/appending permissions.

At the very least get an Akismet API key you can just drop into our plugin. You can do this by making an account at WordPress.com and grabbing the API key from your user profile and just pasting it into our Akismet form in the Admin.

 I wish we could afford a commercial license to provide Akismet transparently to everybody, but we can’t right now. : (


Stay safe against spammers

December 17, 2007

We currently have the SpamFilter plugin disabled, which means we have no protection against spammers. Public projects should be advised to turn off anonymous wiki and ticket create/append permissions until we can figure out what’s wrong with SpamFilter. 


We’re working on it

December 17, 2007

Yes, Trac is down. It happened after a deploy that worked fine on staging. Rollback failed, so we can only rush to fix it. Unfortunately, the issue has us completely by surprise. We may have to disable the SpamFilter plugin…


Ugliness averted

December 7, 2007

That’s better. Not perfect, but nothing will look as good in IE. At least I got to brush up on the timeless art of cross-browser styling.

Actually I think I cheated because I just used conditional styles for IE and IE7. Anyway, this has been a nice reminder that we still have to think about IE (in fact, in two flavors now). I’m really happy to get back to non-browser issues now.

Hope you guys are enjoying the free accounts and spreading the word. They won’t last long!