[QA] Flagging some Beta Labs issues

Maryana Pinchuk mpinchuk at wikimedia.org
Tue Aug 19 23:06:13 UTC 2014

On Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 3:06 PM, S Page <spage at wikimedia.org> wrote:

> Labs instances are cheap, and reliable once set up.

Err, no, not at all!

For one: setting up a labs instance requires a software engineer – which I
am not, nor is anyone on the Design/UX team. And that's just setting up a
totally empty vanilla install; if you want to test anything in any
semblance of a production-like environment, you need to import tons of
content, templates, extensions, scripts (you remember how much work it took
you and Nick to get ee-flow set up for user tests, S? and that was just the
talk namespace!). And even then, good luck testing interwiki stuff,
uploads, RTL, etc. etc... And then try keeping all that up to date (again,
remember the hassle of me pinging the entire Flow team pretty much every
other day to ask if the issue I was seeing on ee-flow was due to new
features breaking or ee-flow being out of date? Bernie probably spent about
as much time updating ee-flow as building Flow at one point... not exactly
the best use of a Tech Lead's time.)

That's why Beta Labs is so magical and important – and why, to me, it's a
good thing that it's constantly updated with new code :)

So, to be clear, I'm very much in favor of keeping *one* test environment
that we all share, and it's okay if some things are sometimes buggy or
weird in the process. Having another environment that simply mirrors
production (a.k.a. what it sounds like you're saying Beta Labs was
originally scoped as, Chris) would be great, too, but it's not as valuable
as having a place to test things that aren't yet in production before they
go live (a.k.a. the master branch).

I just think it would be nice if we had a closer communication channel
between the maintainers of Beta Labs and all the various consumers –
developers, product people, designers, and UX researchers – so we're all on
the same page when something is just a 20-minute intermittent issue, when a
big new deployment means that the entire environment is likely to be out of
commission for a day, etc..

So, this conversation is a pretty good start :) Maybe we can just use this
list to have those kinds of conversations going forward?

Maryana Pinchuk
Product Manager, Wikimedia Foundation
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