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Minimalist bundled and distributed bugtracker w/ orgmode

By Christopher Allan Webber on Sun 11 October 2015

Thinking out loud here... this isn't a new idea but maybe here's a solid workflow...

"Distributed" as in the project's existing DVCS.

  • Check a TODO.org orgmode file right into your project's git repo
  • Accept additions/adjustments to TODO.org via patches on your mailing list
  • As soon as a bug is "accepted", it's committed to the project.
  • When a bug is finished, it's closed and archived.
  • Contributors are encouraged to submit closing tasks in the orgmode tree as part of their patch.
  • Bug commentary happens on-list, but if users have useful information to contribute to someone working on a bug, they can submit that as a patch.

I think this would be a reasonably complete but very emacs user oriented bugtracker solution, so maybe in addition:

  • A script can be provided which renders a static html copy for browsing open/closed bugs.
  • A "form" can be provided on that page to email the list about new discovered bugs, and formats the submission as an orgmode TODO subsection. This way maintainers can easily file the bug into the tracker file if they deem appropriate.

I think this would work. Lately I've been hacking on a project that's mostly just me so far, so I just have an orgmode file bundled with the repo, but I must say that it's rather nice to just hack an orgmode file and have your mini-bugtracker distributed with your project. I've done this a few times but as soon as the project grows to multiple contributors, I move everything over to some web based bugtracker UI. But why not distribute all bugs with the project itself? My main thinking is that there's a tool-oriented barrier to entry, but maybe the web page render can help with that.

I've been spending more time working on more oldschool projects that just take bugs submitted on mailing lists as a contribution project. They seem to do just fine. So I guess it entirely depends on the type of project, but this may work well for some.

And yes, there are a lot of obvious downsides to this too; paultag points out a few :)

Emacs appointment notifications via XMPP

By Christopher Allan Webber on Sun 21 November 2010

Since I've started using Emacs' appointment notifications with orgmode, I've wished that I could get notifications via XMPP. I think it's the most sensible system to use; I have it running on both my desktop, my phone, and my laptop, and the whole issue of "figuring out which device to send this notification to" has already been evaluated and solved by the XMPP community long long ago (back when everyone called XMPP Jabber, even ;)).

I initially thought I'd use a SleekXMPP bot connected to emacs via D-Bus, but then I decided that maybe I would eventually want to add more commands to this that integrated more closely with emacs, so maybe I should use emacs lisp directly. I had heard of Jabber.el but thought that it was mainly aimed at users who want a client, and that writing a bot in it would end up cluttering up my emacs with extra UI stuff I don't want. Then I was pointed at Steersman.el, and that seemed like a cleanly written bot, so I decided to give it a shot.

I was running a newer version of JabberEl than the copy of Steersman's code I looked at, so it took a little bit to figure out how to adjust for the multi-account code, but once I did that the implementation happened fairly quickly. Here's the relevant code:

;; Copyright (C) 2010  Christopher Allan Webber

;; This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
;; it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
;; the Free Software Foundation; either version 3, or (at your option)
;; any later version.
;;
;; This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
;; but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
;; MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the
;; GNU General Public License for more details.

(require 'jabber)

(load-file "~/.emacs.d/emacs-jabberbot-login.el")

(defun botler->appt-message-me (min-to-app new-time appt-msg)
  "Message me about an upcoming appointment."
  (let ((message-body
         (format "Appointment %s: %s%s"
           (if (string-equal "0" min-to-app) "now"
             (format "in %s minute%s" min-to-app
                     (if (string-equal "1" min-to-app) "" "s")))
           new-time appt-msg)))
    (jabber-send-sexp
     (jabber-find-connection "thisbot@example.org")
     `(message ((to . "sendto@example.org")
                (type . "normal"))
                (body () ,message-body)))))

; I don't care when people come online to my bot's roster.
(setq jabber-alert-presence-hooks nil)

(setq appt-display-format 'window)
(setq appt-disp-window-function 'botler->appt-message-me)
(setq appt-delete-window-function (lambda ()))

Adjust "thisbot@example.org" with your bot's JID and "sendto@example.org" with who you want to send messages to. You can replace emacs-jabber-bot-login.el with whatevever you want to login with, but you probably want to setq jabber-account-list and then run (jabber-connect-all). Note that if you're connecting with a self-signed cert with Jabber.el you'll need to do:

(setq starttls-extra-arguments '("--insecure"))
(setq starttls-use-gnutls t)

I haven't yet figured how to whitelist my own self-signed cert yet, and passing in --insecure makes me feel like a monster, but it works for now. Maybe it's about time I finally got my ssl cert signed for dustycloud.org.

Anyway! It works, and I've been successfully getting appointment messages from my emacs session over IM for the last week, and it's pretty great. Next up, configuring things so that I can retrieve my agenda over IM when I request it and be able to IM myself new tasks and events.