The ActivityPub test suite

test.activitypub.rocks has been down for a long time, as pretty much everyone knows. More or less it’s server issues, and I can be blamed since I run the server (and wrote the test suite).

Why hasn’t it gone back up though? Mainly because I’m a) very busy b) know how poor the test suite is at fulfilling the needs of the community and that makes it hard to feel motivated to put in the work.

Here are some quirks about test.activitypub.rocks:

  • It was done in a rush to meet the standards deadline. The main purpose was to collect implementation reports, and given the rush some things are funny about it.
  • It was done in such a rush that it’s a completely separate program that’s just bundled straight into the same codebase as the test activitypub implementation I was writing, Pubstrate (which has some good ideas but which I won’t recommend either).
  • Technically it’s two test suites. Scratch that, it’s a test suite and a questionaire:
    • There’s a test suite for the client to server protocol, which really does resemble a test suite; it makes many requests against your server and sees if they work right. (It’s buggy, though.)
    • There’s a mostly-questionaire (but it runs a couple tests, I think) for the server-to-server protocol. Why? Because a) performing a test suite on an asynchronous protocol is already hard enough (when does the test complete? it can be done with timeouts, but it’s gross) and b) many of the requirements required that some authentication or authorization take place, but due to process reasons we couldn’t specify what that was, and c) at that point we already had an unusual amount of interop, so we decided that if multiple implementations could federate on a feature and could confirm that in the questionaire, we could consider that sufficient. (Even weirder, some of the questions would involve the server doing something to your server, but then still having a question for the user to confirm if the thing worked.)
  • A proper test suite wouldn’t work like this. It would be fully automated.

It does look pretty though, that’s the only thing I’ll give it credit for. :stuck_out_tongue:

Where to from here? There are really a few options:

  • Do nothing, things remain broken. Obviously not ideal!
  • I get back up the test suite. Again, it’s hard for me to get motivated about this but I could probably do it. But then I fear once I get it up all I’ll get in response is THIS is the test suite? WTF, this isn’t a test suite at all!
  • Someone else could get up the test suite based on the current codebase and I could transfer running it to them. Notably someone tried this already but they weren’t familiar with Guix, and that’s currently the easiest way to get it up and running :stuck_out_tongue:
  • Someone else could write a new, much better version of the test suite. In fact we discussed this on a recent SocialCG call and I was asked how I would feel about that, and I more or less said I thought that would be great. But someone needs to do it. Who? Maybe it’s you!

So… what next?

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I favor the last option:

Someone else could write a new, much better version of the test suite

It’s even possible that I can help, but I’m a guile/scheme noob so there’s probably not much I can do with the legacy test suite.

To make sure it is not just me to be scared by scheme, elixir & friends I did a quick, unscientific search for activitypub-related repos on github and got 233 repos with this language distribution:

number of repos programming language
30 Python
25 Go
23 PHP
21 JavaScript
16 Rust
13 Ruby
10 TypeScript
9 HTML
7 Elixir
5 Clojure

IMHO the test suite should be implemented in a language which is both popular among activitypub hackers, and has good support for testing asynchronous protocols.

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I think that’s a nice-to-have. If someone is generous enough with their time to do a rewrite, I think that they should use the language they’re most comfortable with.

However, if they happened to pick Go, and happened to want to use go-fed apcore (which would help motivate my current slow-go near the finish line), I would gladly offer heavy collaboration (voice/video chat).

Golang can do.

Tentative requirements for this webapp:

  1. test suite results are generated as static HTML files that can be accessed publicly from a permalink; there is a summary page for all implementations, with the lastest test

  2. to start a test, the user has to log in to an “implementer dashboard” using her socialhub.activitypub.rocks account (we can use discourse as a SSO provider, there is an official golang implementation) and request it, filling a form

  3. test requests are stored in a queue and asynchronously processed; basic queue management: list tests, test status, cancel test, retry test

  4. notifications (“test failed”, “test passed” etc.) are posted to a discourse category (https://socialhub.activitypub.rocks/c/tests), quoting the user (@rocco) so that she is pinged

Types of test suites:

  • user has a client up and running:

    • c2s: test user’s client against our server
  • user has a server up and running:

    • c2s: test user’s server against our client
    • s2s: test user’s server against our server

The webapp must be dockerized so that it can be run standalone with a development local discourse instance.

It should be also possible to run each test suite locally from CLI so that the same tests can be run as local tests or as part of CI for each implementation (go implementations will benefit more from this).

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AndStatus app for Android is a social networking client app that has most of the features that the ActivityPub test suite mentioned for Client to Server protocol. And it works with at least one real server software: Pleroma. More details are here: https://github.com/andstatus/andstatus/issues/499

In this sense the app may be viewed as semi-automated test suite for a Server’s client to server implementation.

I am willing to extend the application’s “ActivityPub tester’s” features. The only show stopper is absence of server side implementations. What are we talking about here if almost nobody develops ActivityPub Client-to-server part of the specification?

AndStatus already has large automated self-test suite, so it’s not a problem to create (actually, compose from existing blocks) another test suite, focused on testing features that are needed for ActivityPub testing.

The app is written in Java.

Welcome @yvolk! Indeed C2S seems to have been neglected for too long. I wish it would be used though, since a full client implementation would make “apps” fade away and the protocol shine.

OMG, why are you having this discussion there instead of here?

Sweet! I’m sure you’ll find here people willing to help. Yes, people?

OMG, why are you having this discussion there instead of here?

That discussion is about concrete implementation of a concrete application. It gives real ground and subjects for “higher level” :slight_smile: discussions and decision making.

I hope that having working client app can motivate server-side developers to implement client-to-server support AND that such app will be used as a development/test tool. In fact, it is used now in this way helping to find programming and conceptual mistakes in the ActivityPub C2S implementation of Pleroma.

It’s great to see Pleroma and Andstatus working together on AP C2S! Is there a thread here where we can follow progress on this, and point other devs wanting to try implementing it too, eg in the C2S category?

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We just created this topic About AndStatus to discuss C2S
Thanks to @how

Someone on the Fediverse asked for the test suite again. @rocco do you think you’d have some time to work on it? Maybe @yvolk can help as well. What do you people need to help around? I could activate Discourse SSO provider if this can help, @rocco.

Also, the person asking had the impression that ActivityPub is dead because of the test suite being down.
So depending on how bad the old test suite is and how much effort is needed to bring it up again,it might make sense to bring the old test suite back up while a new one is being worked upon, @cwebber.

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and pinging @dansup

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