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Re: serial-tests option and backwards compatibility

From: Stefano Lattarini
Subject: Re: serial-tests option and backwards compatibility
Date: Thu, 07 Feb 2013 10:58:39 +0100

On 02/05/2013 12:22 AM, Peter Johansson wrote:
> On 02/04/2013 11:31 PM, Stefano Lattarini wrote:
>> On 02/04/2013 01:16 AM, Luke Mewburn wrote:
> [CUT]
>>> Especially when the time between previous major releases was 2.5 years.
>>> Examining the Changelog and release dates:
[Aside: note that the ChangeLog is not really faithful w.r.t. Automake
 actual development, since the dates in there fails to account for topic
 branches or commits that get merged weeks or even months after having
 been written].

>>>   2009-12-08  Release automake 1.11.1
>>>   2012-02-21  Add "serial-tests" support (in "HEAD")
>>>   2012-04-13  Release automake 1.11.5 (without "serial-tests")
>>>   2012-05-18  Parallel tests now the default (in "HEAD", not 1.11.x)
>>>   2012-06-01  Release automake 1.12.1 (with "serial-tests")
>> When I did this, I should really have published a 1.11.x release offering
>> this same option as well; that would have removed all confusion.  Sigh,
>> such a low-hanging fruit not picked :-(
> I disagree. IMVHO micro releases should only fix bugs and not introduce new
> features,
I agree, but this wouldn't have been the case; 'serial-tests' would have
just been recognized as a no-op option (as it is in 1.12), to enhance
forward compatibility.

> i.e., versions within 1.11.x should be both back and forward
> compatible.
And it would have been so -- better than now!

> The way to avoid these problems would have been to let the fruit sit
> there for, say 3-5 years, and then change the default value.
Indeed (which is just what I've before admitted has been my mistake).

>>>   2013-01-01  Release automake 1.13.1 (parallel tests now default)
>>> This isn't the only backwards incompatible change made recently,
>>> and in my humble opinion I think the timeframes introducing
>>> backwards incompatibility are too aggressive.
>> You are not the only one to think so, and I've come to agree (at least
>> partially); for some more discussions and background, see:
>>    <>
>>    <>
>> So things should proceed more carefully in the future (I hope).
> In hindsight, I'm surprised no one objected to your aggressive changes.
>>>  From a backwards-compatibility point of view, I think the default
>>> should be reverted to serial tests, and make it clearer that
>>> parallel tests are available as an option.
>> With this I must disagree, sorry.
> I agree with your disagreement ;) flip-flopping back and forth would
> cause complete confusion and chaos. It would, however, be useful to
>  document a workaround (perhaps in FAQ)
I fear we don't have FAQs; the closest thing is the "Autotools
Mythbuster" guide from Diego Elio Pattenò:


Perhaps you might want to bring the issue up there (and I guess Diego
would welcome a patch ;-)

> how to support serial-test
>  using both Automake 1.11 and Automake 1.13. Is there such a workaround?
Yes, albeit not particularly pretty:


At this point, I'd rather encourage a switch to Automake 1.12 or later
(especially considering that Automake 1.12 had far few backward
compatibility issues than 1.13), or (if there is a *strong* demand)
release a "forward-compatibility-fixing" 1.11.7 release that will
accept the 'serial-tests' option as a no-op.


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