As part of publicising my C++ Now 2015 talk this week, here is part 13 of 20 from its accompanying Handbook of Examples of Best Practice for C++ 11/14 (Boost) libraries:
13. CONVENIENCE: Consider creating a status dashboard for your library with everything you need to know shown in one place
I like all-in-one-place software status dashboards where with a quick glance one can tell if there is a problem or not. I feel it makes it far more likely that I will spot a problem quickly if it is somewhere I regularly visit, and for that reason I like to mount my status dashboard at the front of my library docs and on my project's github Readme:
* Front of my library docs: https://boostgsoc13.github.io/boost.afio/
* Project's github Readme (bottom of page): https://github.com/BoostGSoC13/boost.afio
Implementing these is ridiculously easy: it's a table in standard HTML which github markdown conveniently will render as-is for me, and you can see its source markdown/HTML at https://raw.githubusercontent.com/BoostGSoC13/boost.afio/master/Readme.md. The structure is very simple, columns for OS, Compiler, STL, CPU, Build status, Test status and with three badges in each status row, one each for header only builds, static library builds, and shared DLL builds.
Keen eyes may note that the latter majority of that HTML looks automatically generated, and you would be right. The python script at https://github.com/BoostGSoC13/boost.afio/blob/master/scripts/GenJenkinsMatrixDashboard.py has a matrix of test targets configured on my Jenkins CI at https://ci.nedprod.com/ and it churns out HTML matching those. An alternative approach is https://github.com/BoostGSoC13/boost.afio/blob/master/scripts/JenkinsMatrixToDashboard.py which will parse a Jenkins CI test grid from a Matrix Build configuration into a collapsed space HTML table which fits nicely onto github. If you also want your HTML/markdown dashboard to appear in your BoostBook? documentation, the script at https://github.com/BoostGSoC13/boost.afio/blob/master/scripts/readme_to_html.sh with the XSLT at https://github.com/BoostGSoC13/boost.afio/blob/master/scripts/xhtml_to_docbook.xsl should do a fine job.
All of the above dashboarding is fairly Jenkins centric, so what if you just have Travis + Appveyor? I think Boost.DI has it right by encoding a small but complete status dashboard into its BoostBook docs and github, so examine:
* Front page of library docs (underneath the table of contents): https://krzysztof-jusiak.github.io/di/cpp14/boost/libs/di/doc/html/
* Project's github Readme (bottom of page, look for the badges): https://github.com/krzysztof-jusiak/di
As a purely personal thing, I'd personally prefer the line of status badges before the table of contents such that I am much more likely to see it when jumping in and notice that something is red when it shouldn't be. But it's purely a personal thing, and each library author will have their own preference.
Finally, I think that displaying status summaries via badges like this is another highly visible universal mark of software quality. It shows that the library author cares enough to publicly show the current state of their library. Future tooling by Boost which dashboards Boost libraries and/or ranks libraries by a quality score will almost certainly find the application specific ids for Travis, Appveyor, Coveralls etc by searching any Readme.md in the github repo for status badges, so by including status badges in your github Readme.md you can guarantee that such Boost library ranking scripts will work out of the box with no additional effort by you in the future.
Presentation slides: https://goo.gl/VHrXrj
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