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Samvera Connect 2018 Recap

Mar 15, 10:04 AM

Samvera Connect 2018 was hosted by the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library. For me, the theme of this conference was testing. I registered for two different workshops on testing. The first was run by Carolyn Cole, and based on the excellent Rails Bridge training. [Carolyn’s workshop materials] The second was run by Tom Johnson, and was a slightly more Samvera-specific workshop on testing topics. [Tom’s workshop materials] I have several pages of notes from both workshops. But I’ll try to mention a few bullet point takaways from them:

From Carolyn’s workshop:

  • try to write tests that make sense to you
  • tests are really only useful if you understand how they work
  • generated code doesn’t always have tests, or what tests it does have are incomplete
  • to quote Carolyn: “Yes there are smart people writing this stuff, but it’s important to understand what you’re using.”
  • use Coveralls to find places where you are testing too much (ooh, interesting, but good tip)
  • name your tests in such a way that, when you see them fail, the failure message makes sense… you’ll see your tests fail right away, if you’re doing TDD correctly, and it helps a lot if you can understand what the failure message is telling you
  • a thing to read about later: Shameless Green from Sandi Metz.
  • Feature specs are expensive, but that’s because they are complete… since big tests require a long time investment, ensure there is a big payoff for running them, especially if you’re running them all the time as part of some automated process

From Tom’s workshop:

  • Are your tests using too-specific dependencies?
  • Do your tests “know too much”?
  • Don’t just “rebuild the implementation” in the test
  • Complicated tests should worry you, they are a warning sign
  • this snippet is golden: it (require 'pry' binding pry) see this article for more details

Tom also had lots to say about mock objects, and other such things. For sure check out both Carolyn and Tom’s workshop materials, and if you’re doing any sort of development work with Samvera, you should actually go through both of those workshops and follow along with the exercises. It’s good experience, you’ll learn a lot.

OK, workshops done, on to the main conference. Here are some highlights from my notes: The Code Stability Working Group’s Recommendations is something I should read. Glancing at it again, I see there are a few interesting links from that page… I need to set aside some time to explore all of that info more thoroughly. Along those same lines, the Hyrax Roadmap is something anyone who works with Hyrax should be aware of, and read. Also, Hyrax doesn’t just travel down that road all on its own, there is likely lots of work to be done, and if you’re in a position to help, there will be Hyrax pull requests waiting for review. Have some spare time? Make yourself useful and pitch in!

Another theme to this conference was the community coming to terms with what bringing in Valkyrie will actually mean, and how that work will proceed. And while that might have been interesting many months ago, proceed they have! :-) Valkyrie is now up to version 1.5.1 with version 2.0 expected in coming weeks. The project has been promoted to the core Samvera repository, and has been added as a dependency of Hyrax as of February 2.

During the Hyrax Working Group, Valkyrie discussion dominated. At some point, someone mentioned Martin Fowler’s Branch by Abstraction article … I need to read that.

Now I’ll just list off the talks I got the most out of, in the order they appear in my notes (likely chronological order).

David Schober from Northwestern presented a talk on DevOps [slides]
…really useful from the trenches information on running containers in AWS, and using Terraform to do it. This is an area my team at UCLA Library is trying to develop expertise in, these slides will be useful for our team. I particularly like their DevStack tool for setting up dev environments for the various services they build and maintain.

Kate Lynch from University of Pennsylvania Libraries presented a talk about a workflow they’ve written to manage backup of content to Amazon Glacier, which they call “Guardian Workflow”. [slides]
… really cool stuff, and worth a look if you want to do something similar. Even if you’re not interested in backing up to Glacier, it’s worth a look to see how they’ve managed to tackle it, as the approach might be useful for other work you have to do.

Justin Coyne from Stanford University Library spoke about deploying with AWS Elastic Container Service [slides] From my notes, they’re using CloudWatch to pull all their log files together, and auto-scaling will save you money, you can turn off the service when you don’t need it.

James Griffin from Princeton University Library presented on Synchronizing Samvera [slides] Lots of helpful information in this talk about how to get Samvera to talk to other web services. This is information that will help anyone who is building microservices alongside a Samvera repository, or anyone who needs to integrate a Samvera repository in a larger IT ecosystem.

There was a session about IIIF, and my notes from this session are pretty sparse, but I did jot down that Simeon Warner from Cornell mentioned they use something called “Art Store” to handle moving files, and I think it’s actually Archival Storage Ingest … which actually looks pretty cool, and useful for my team.

There was a Batch Ingest Working Group meeting which I attended, but the facilitator couldn’t make it. My colleague Lisa McAulay jumped in to lead the conversation, and we ended up walking through the working group’s docs on the wiki, and added new information from those present at this meeting, so hopefully we ended up helping. Those notes have moved on the wiki since this meeting, I think this is their current location

I, along with my colleague from UCSD, Jon Robinson, facilitated an unconference session we called the “DevOps Sandbox Swap Meet”, here are the [notes from the session]

My colleague from UCLA Library, Stephen Gurnick, and I presented a poster on things we’ve learned about making DevOps work at UCLA Library. [our poster]

That’s about it. Sorry these notes are so late.