Looking back at Bugzilla and BMO in 2017

Looking Back

Recently in the Bugzilla Project meeting, Gerv informed us that he would be resigning, and it was pretty clear that my lack of technical leadership was the cause. While I am sad to see Gerv go, it did make me realize I need to write more about the things I do.

As is evident in this post, all of the things I’ve accomplished have been related to the BMO codebase and not upstream Bugzilla – which is why upstream must be rebased on BMO.
See Bug 1427884 for one of the blockers to this.

Accessibility Changes

In 2017, we made over a dozen a11y changes, and I’ve heard from a well-known developer that using BMO with a screen reader is far superior to other bugzillas. 🙂

Infrastructure Changes

BMO is quite happy to use carton to manage its perl dependencies, and Docker handle its system-level dependencies.

We’re quite close to being able to run on Kubernetes.

While the code is currently turned off in production, we also feature a very advanced query translator that allows the use of ElasticSearch to index all bugs and comments.

Performance Changes

I sort of wanted to turn each of these into a separate blog post, but I never got time for that – and I’m even more excited about writing about future work. But rather than just let them hide away in bugs, I thought I’d at least list them and give a short summary.


  • Bug 1336958 – HTML::Tree requires manual memory management or it leaks memory. I discovered this while looking at some unrelated code.
  • Bug 1335233 – I noticed that the job queue runner wasn’t calling the end-of-request cleanup code, and a result it was also leaking memory.


  • Bug 1345181 – make html_quote() about five times faster.
  • Bug 1347570 – make it so apache in the dev/test environments didn’t need to restart after every request (by enforcing a minimum memory limit)
  • Bug 1350466 – switched JSON serialization to JSON::XS, which is nearly 1000 times faster.
  • Bug 1350467 – caused more modules (those provided by optional features) to be preloaded at apache startup.
  • Bug 1351695 – Pre-load “.htaccess” files and allow apache to ignore them


  • Bug 1355127 – rewrote template code that is in a tight loop to Perl, saving a few hundred thousand method calls (no exageration!)
  • Bug 1355134 – fetch all groups at once, rather than row-at-a-time.
  • Bug 1355137 – Cache objects that represent bug fields.
  • Bug 1355142 – Instead of using a regular expression to “trick” Perl’s string tainting system, use a module to directly flip the “taint” bit. This was hundreds of times faster.
  • Bug 1352264 – Compile all templates and store them in memory. This actually saved both CPU time and RAM, because the memory used by templates is shared by all workers on a given node.


  • Bug 1362151 – Cache bzapi configuration API, making ‘bz export’ commands (on developer machines) faster by 2-5 seconds.
  • Bug 1352907 – Rewrite the Bugzilla extension loading system.
    The previous one was incredibly inefficient.


  • Bug 1355169 – Mentored intern to implement token-bucket based rate limiting. Not strictly a performance thing but it reduced API abuse.


  • Bug 1426963 – Use a hash lookup to determine group membership, rather than searching an unsorted list.
  • Bug 1427230 – Templates were slowed down because they use exceptions for control flow and we’re doing lots of work for each (caught!) exception. One should never use CGI::Carp, never overload CORE::GLOBAL::die, and never set a DIE handler

Developer Experience Changes

My favorite communities optimize for fun. Frequently fun means being able to get things done. So in 2017 I did the following:

  • Made a vagrant development environment setup that closely mapped to BMO production.
    • I tested installing it on various machines – Linux, OSX, Windows
    • I wrote a README explaining how to use it.
    • This dev environment has been tested by people with little or no experience with Bugzilla development.
  • I changed to a pull-request based workflow. We use Bugzilla to track bugs and tasks, but not do code review.
  • I made it so the entire test suite could run against pull requests. This isn’t trivial, you have to work a bit harder to build docker images and run them without having any dockerhub credentials. (Pull requests don’t get any dockerhub credentials, I have to say to make sure my friend ulfr doesn’t have a heart attack)
  • I made sure that I understood how to use Atom and Visual Studio Code. I actually rather like the later now – and more importantly it is easy to help out new-comers with these editors.
  • I adopted Perl::Critic for code linting and Perl::Tidy for code-formatting, using the PBP ruleset for the later. I also made it a point to not make code style a part of code review – let the machine do that.


In the last year, we had almost 500 commits to the BMO repo,
from 20 different people. Some people were new, and some were returning contributors (such as Sebastin Santy).