RT 4 - status report

It should come as no suprise to folks that we’ve been hard at work on
what will become RT 4.0.

We’ve been working hard to overhaul the entire codebase. The current
version of the web interface is only 10,000 lines of HTML shorter
(118kloc down from 128kloc), but the core libraries have shrunk from
68kloc of code to 54kloc.

At the same time, we’ve moved RT from its own homegrown application
framework to Jifty, Best Practical’s next-generation web application
platform. Jifty brings with it all sorts of new features which make it
easier to build out web services and web applications with less code and
easier support for modern Web 2.0 features.

If you download the RT 3.999 development branch today, you’ll find
a few major new features. The most visible of those is “Status
schemas.” In RT 4, you can define directed graphs of ticket states and
valid transitions between those states. You can associate one or more
queue with any status schema. At its simplest, this means that you can
now freely add or remove statuses from your RT instance through the web
interface. If you want to get a bit fancier, you can specify that "new"
tickets can move only to “open” or “rejected” and that “open” tickets
can only move to the “testing” or “rejected” states. This makes it
easier than ever to adapt RT to your existing process and workflow.

Under the hood, we’ve begun to generalize other parts of RT. While role
groups are still limited to “Requestor”, “Cc” and “AdminCc”, we’ve
mostly completed work that will allow you to define custom role groups.
(Exposing that functionality isn’t currently slated for RT 4.0)

There are a few fairly major projects in progress which we’re currently
planning for RT 4.0:

  • Most application configuration will move into the database, making it
    easier for RT administrators to fully manage RT using the web interface.

  • TicketSQL has been extended as ‘tisql’, a new, more powerful query
    language which will be available internally for all objects in RT, not just
    tickets.

  • Scrips are being replaced with a new workflow engine codenamed
    ’Lorzy’. Lorzy makes it possible to build out much more complex rules
    than Scrips’ simple “If __ Then __” conditionals. Under the hood,
    Lorzy is a fully sandboxable lisp-like functional minilanguage with
    named, typed arguments and the ability to detect runaway rules and
    limit individual rules by actor. In the future, we hope to also
    expose Lorzy as a user-level scripting engine for RT.

  • Date and Time rationalization - We’ve been ripping out RT’s old and
    fairly adhoc implementations of various bits of date and time and
    replacing them with a shiny, new implementation based around Perl’s
    DateTime suite.

There are a dozen other projects we want to undertake - We’re going
to try to hold out so we have something cool to show for 4.2, 4.4
and beyond.

We have a few additional bits of backward-compatibility we want to
break before declaring something as a 4.0 “beta” that we’d actually
like folks to test in production. We’re not there yet. I’ll tell
you as soon as we get there.

4.0 is a major new release of RT. Like the transition from RT 2.0
to 3.0, 4.0 represents a major break in backwards compatibility
with older versions of RT. When you look under the hood in RT 4,
you’ll see that the entire API has been overhauled to match more
common Perl style guidelines. The most obvious change is that the
API has been rationalized to lower_case_style from the previous
CamelCaseStyle, but there are numerous other changes throughout the
product’s internals. We’ve written more RT extensions than anyone
out there (as far as I know) and we’re very, very aware of just how
painful a major API change is. We have the beginnings of tools and
guidelines to help you make the transition with as little pain as
possible.

It should come as no surprise to you that I’m not announcing a
release date for RT 4.0.0 today, nor will I be doing so in the
immediate future. We have a long way to go before RT 4 will be
the recommended version of RT for a production or evaluation
deployment. Even once that happens, Rest assured that we’ll continue
to support RT 3.x for a good long time. Best Practical’s business
is built on helping our users make good use of RT and our other
products – We’re not about to cut off those of you using RT 3 in
production.

Best,

Jesse

RT4 Release MicroFAQ

Q: How can I help?

A: I’m glad you asked. http://wiki.bestpractical.com/view/RT4 has a
pointer to the RT4 source code. Check out the source. Then do any
of the following:

- Clean up code that you think needs cleanup.
- Add or improve documentation. Find bugs. 
- Fix bugs.

Mail patches or bug reports to rt4@bestpractical.com.

Q: When will RT 4.0 be released?

A: How much money do you have?

Q: Why doesn’t RT 4.0 have feature XXX?

A: Please send patches to rt4@bestpractical.com.
Please send RFPs to sales@bestpractical.com.

At the same time, we’ve moved RT from its own homegrown application
framework to Jifty, Best Practical’s next-generation web application
platform. Jifty brings with it all sorts of new features which make
it
easier to build out web services and web applications with less code
and
easier support for modern Web 2.0 features.

That’s good. Would this change improve the ability to run RT in a
virtual server environment, instead of having to pretty much commit an
entire machine to it? The number of things which “must be done by
root” which don’t actually need root permissions, and could run under
a more limited user is quite large. But they are difficult to
overcome with hacking the source due to assumptions built into the code.

I’ve got RT working entirely within a virtual/shared web server
environment, but it’s a lot of work. And honestly, the "lot of work"
has entirely to do with built-in-assumptions rather than actual
problems that prevent its implementation that way. I’m trying to
figure out how to document all of the work required for this.

If I was to grab to 4.0 codebase and start finding and sending patches
to prevent these kind of assumptions from being made, it would make me
a lot happier. I’m also certain it would broaden the potential
userbase and resolve a great many of the questions that come up on
this list.

Not that OTRS is as good as RT. But you can untar OTRS inside a
shared virtual server and have it up and running without ever becoming
root in 5 minutes.

Jo Rhett
Net Consonance : consonant endings by net philanthropy, open source
and other randomness

That’s good. Would this change improve the ability to run RT in a
virtual server environment, instead of having to pretty much commit an
entire machine to it? The number of things which “must be done by
root” which don’t actually need root permissions, and could run under
a more limited user is quite large. But they are difficult to
overcome with hacking the source due to assumptions built into the code.

Such as?

I run RT configured “–with-my-user-group” all the time.

That’s good. Would this change improve the ability to run RT in a
virtual server environment, instead of having to pretty much commit
an
entire machine to it? The number of things which “must be done by
root” which don’t actually need root permissions, and could run under
a more limited user is quite large. But they are difficult to
overcome with hacking the source due to assumptions built into the
code.

Such as?

I run RT configured “–with-my-user-group” all the time.

Such as rt-crontool. I fought through a week of trying to be able to
run rt-crontool as any user other than root, and it never succeeded.
If the mason-cache stuff was created using a consistent userid then we
could run rt-crontool as that user.

In a perfect world, I want to install RT as a single user, then run a
separate HTTP instance as that same user, so that RT is running within
a single user account. I’m mostly there on a dev install, but I’ve
already had to modify far too many files for it to be a simple patch.

Jo Rhett
Net Consonance : consonant endings by net philanthropy, open source
and other randomness

At the same time, we’ve moved RT from its own homegrown application
framework to Jifty, Best Practical’s next-generation web application
platform. Jifty brings with it all sorts of new features which make it
easier to build out web services and web applications with less code and
easier support for modern Web 2.0 features.

My big question here should be obvious: will RT 4.0 maintain the exact same
/REST/1.0/ API as RT 3.x?

Secondarily, will it expose additional web services beyond that? /REST/2.0/
perhaps?

– ============================
Tom Lahti
BIT Statement LLC

(425)251-0833 x 117
http://www.bitstatement.net/
– ============================

At the same time, we’ve moved RT from its own homegrown application
framework to Jifty, Best Practical’s next-generation web application
platform. Jifty brings with it all sorts of new features which make it
easier to build out web services and web applications with less code and
easier support for modern Web 2.0 features.

My big question here should be obvious: will RT 4.0 maintain the exact same
/REST/1.0/ API as RT 3.x?

Yes. And if it doesn’t, it’s a bug. Once we get to “usable beta” status,
please beat hard on it to make sure we cover all your cases.

Secondarily, will it expose additional web services beyond that? /REST/2.0/
perhaps?

Yes. That’s one of the things Jifty gets us ‘free’.

That’s good. Would this change improve the ability to run RT in a
virtual server environment, instead of having to pretty much commit
an
entire machine to it? The number of things which “must be done by
root” which don’t actually need root permissions, and could run under
a more limited user is quite large. But they are difficult to
overcome with hacking the source due to assumptions built into the
code.

Such as?

I run RT configured “–with-my-user-group” all the time.

Such as rt-crontool. I fought through a week of trying to be able to
run rt-crontool as any user other than root, and it never succeeded.
If the mason-cache stuff was created using a consistent userid then we
could run rt-crontool as that user.
If your crontool fails to write into file log then it’s your mistake.
File log is not designed to be used in production, use syslog and/or
screen logging.

crontool doesn’t use mason cache, but dashboards mailer can and it has
been fixed in 3.8.HEAD and the fix will be available in 3.8.3.

In a perfect world, I want to install RT as a single user, then run a
separate HTTP instance as that same user, so that RT is running within
a single user account. I’m mostly there on a dev install, but I’ve
already had to modify far too many files for it to be a simple patch.
As jesse suggested you can use --with-my-user-group option to do this.
developers use it successfully for ages :slight_smile:


Jo Rhett
Net Consonance : consonant endings by net philanthropy, open source
and other randomness


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Best regards, Ruslan.

If your crontool fails to write into file log then it’s your mistake.
File log is not designed to be used in production, use syslog and/or
screen logging.

I never said file log. That was easy to solve. I can set rights on a
file log. The mason cache privileges get reset on every creation.

crontool doesn’t use mason cache, but dashboards mailer can and it has
been fixed in 3.8.HEAD and the fix will be available in 3.8.3.

Awesome to hear.

In a perfect world, I want to install RT as a single user, then run a
separate HTTP instance as that same user, so that RT is running
within
a single user account. I’m mostly there on a dev install, but I’ve
already had to modify far too many files for it to be a simple patch.
As jesse suggested you can use --with-my-user-group option to do this.
developers use it successfully for ages :slight_smile:

Okay, if the official answer is that “this should work” then I’ll file
bugs against each thing that doesn’t work.

Jo Rhett
Net Consonance : consonant endings by net philanthropy, open source
and other randomness