The Devver Blog

A Boulder startup improving the way developers work.

Upcoming improvements for Caliper

For the past several weeks, you may have noticed that not much has changed on Caliper. The reason for this is that we’ve been working hard to allow you to use Caliper on your private GitHub repositories (we’re currently in private beta for that feature. If you are interested, you can sign up for a beta invitation).

However, we realize that we have much to improve on Caliper. We’ve been talking with our users to identify the biggest problems and most-requested features. In addition, we’re getting help from the folks at Viget Labs to make Caliper easier to understand, more intuitive to use, and all around better.

In our first batch of work, we’ll be focusing on three improvements.

First, we’ll be developing an improved project dashboard. Our current dashboard isn’t terribly useful. We’d like to better represent the state of the project, important trends, and areas that need the most help. We’re working now to come up with a concrete design that addresses these issues. In the meantime, what data would you find most helpful on the dashboard?

We’ll also be changing the way you navigate to specific tools. Users have told us that the specific tool names (‘Reek’, ‘Flog’) are not, by themselves, very helpful for navigation. As a result, we’ll be increasingly highlighting their function. For example, even if you aren’t familiar with Flog, we’ll make it obvious that it is a tool for measuring complexity.

We’re considering eventually merging tools that have a similar function. So instead of going to two different pages for Reek and Roodi results, we might just have a ‘code smells’ report. Similarly, Flog and Saikuro might be presented within the same page. Would this be helpful?

To be clear, it isn’t our intention to obscure the fact that Caliper is built on great tools like metric_fu, Reek, Flog, etc. We will still make it easy to understand where the data is coming from and highlight the work being done by the dedicated open-source developers who write them. However, we think that grouping by function will make Caliper easier to use and understand.

Did you know that you can set up Caliper to automatically generate metrics using GitHub post-receive hooks? Did you know that, by default, up to 15 of your latest commits are automatically run through Caliper when you set up a project? Or that with one click, you can generate metrics for up to 40 commits throughout the history of your project?

Many users don’t know this, because our UI for these features is currently pretty terrible. The last task in the current batch of work will be to make these features more visible and easier to use. Our goal is to make it simple to see trends in your project over time.

(Incidentally, many users also don’t know that you can view a metrics diff for two commits to see how a commit has changed the metrics, but making this more noticeable may or may not get tackled in the first set of changes).

What’s next for Caliper after we complete these changes? We’re currently talking to users about what features and improvements matter most to them. One possibility is to display some or all of our metric data directly on a view of source code itself, so you don’t have to open up an editor (or click through to GitHub) to see the code. How important is this feature to you?

As always, feedback from our users is hugely helpful. If you have ideas about features that you’d like to see, please let us know in the comments or start a discussion at our support site. Thanks!

Written by Ben

January 14, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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