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Verify a bug fix

See also

This page is about verifying a fix after it has been merged into CiviCRM core. Also see instructions on reviewing a core pull request to learn how to review fixes before they are merged.

Suppose you (or some like-minded spirit) report a bug. With a bit of luck, someone from the community (perhaps a core developer) reproduces the bug, writes a fix, and announces gleefully: "It's fixed! It took four hours, but I did it!" Hooray! Now what? How do you get the fix running on your system? How do you verify that the fix fixed exactly your problem?

Step 1. Check the "Fix Version" in JIRA

The JIRA issue includes a field called Fix Version. This declares the expected release which will include the fix.

If the fix is low-risk (small) or critical (dealing with data-corruption or security), the Fix Version will usually be the next point-release. Otherwise, the Fix Version version will usually be the next major-release.

However, every patch is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, so it's important to read the Fix Version.

Example

Suppose the current stable release is v4.6.2.

A low-risk or critical fix will usually target the next point-release – i.e. v4.6.3.

A high-risk or less-critical fix will usually target the next major release – i.e. v4.7 or v5.0.

For an example, see CRM-16501. Note the Fix Version is 4.7.

Step 2. Check the proposal status in Github

When a developer prepares a fix for an issue, he submits a proposal ("PR" or "pull-request") via github.com. The proposal is evaluated using both continuous integration and peer review. The proposal will have one of three statuses:

  • Open (green): The proposal has not been accepted yet. It's waiting for peer review.
  • Merged (purple): The proposal has been accepted.
  • Closed (red): The proposal has been rejected or abandoned. (This may happen for a variety of reasons - it could be a problem in the proposal itself, or perhaps it took too long to get peer review, or perhaps the author came up with a different/better proposal.)

Returning to the example of CRM-16501, the developer (Tim Mallezie) included a link to github.com: #5829. Inspecting that page, you can see that the status is Merged, and another developer (Kurund Jalmi) approved the proposal.

Step 3. Try the fixed code

To be sure that the patch actually works, you'll need try it out. There are a few different ways to try it out – the choice will depend on your skillset, time/motivation, and the version/status of the fix.

These options are generally sorted by difficulty, with the easiest option first.

Option A. Use the CiviCRM sandbox

  • Summary:
    • The CiviCRM sandboxes are public web-sites which are automatically rebuilt once every day. The easiest way to test a fix is to try it on the sandbox.
  • Required Skills:
    • No particular skills are required (beyond normal Civi user skills).
  • Required Time:
    • Minimal. Generally 5-15min. Possibly up to an hour if you need to reproduce some special configuration options on the sandbox.
  • Timeframe:
    • You can usually test a fix on the sandbox within 24hr after the proposal has been approved (merged).
    • If the fix was recently approved (ie a few hours ago), then be patient and come back tomorrow.
    • If you feel really anxious, you can compare the timestamp for when it was merged against the build history of the sandboxes.
  • Caveats:
    • This only works after the proposal has been accepted (merged).
    • The automatic rebuild only works with Drupal and WordPress sandboxes. At time of writing, the Joomla sandboxes cannot be rebuilt automatically.
    • The sandboxes use fake, generic data with a standardized configuration. The data and configuration on your server may be different.
    • Outgoing email sending is disabled on all sandboxes to prevent accidental spamming etc. So it might not be possible to test the email related issues.

Option B. Install the next release

  • Summary:
    • Wait for the next release. When it's available, upgrade your server (as usual).
  • Required Skills:
    • CiviCRM system administration
  • Required Time:
    • Moderate. Generally 20-60 min.
    • If you need a major upgrade, have many customizations, or don't have much experience with setting up CiviCRM test systems, then it may take several hours.
  • Timeframe:
    • (For a point release) Point releases may be issued on the first or third Wednesday of each month. However, this is discretionary, and it may not happen if there are a small number of fixes. If this matters, ask.
    • (For a major release) Major releases are generally issued every 6 months (+/- 3 months). Consult the CiviCRM Roadmap.
  • Caveats:
    • This is the slowest process. If the patch doesn't work, then you'll need to wait for the next release and try again (minimum: 2 weeks. maximum: 9 months).

Option C. Install the nightly tarball on a test server

  • Summary:
  • Required Skills:
    • CiviCRM system administration
    • Testing / staging / production management
  • Required Time:
    • Moderate. Generally 20-60 min.
    • If you need a major upgrade, have many customizations, or don't have much experience with setting up CiviCRM test systems, then it may take several hours.
  • Timeframe:
    • You can usually test a nightly tarball within 24hr after the proposal has been approved (merged).
    • If the fix was recently approved (ie a few hours ago), then be patient and come back tomorrow.
    • If you feel really anxious, you can compare the timestamp for when it was merged against the timestamp on dist server.
  • Caveats:
    • This only works after the proposal has been accepted (merged).
    • Do not install nightly tarballs on production servers. For more discussion of why, see the original blog post, Pre-Release Policy and Nightly Builds.

Tip

When browsing http://dist.civicrm.org/by-date/latest/, you may find that the Fix Version does not appear as a folder – because it has not been released yet. Choose the closest major version.

Example: If the Fix Version is "4.6.3", and if there is no folder for "4.6.3", then look in the "4.6" folder.

Example: If the Fix Version is "4.7", and if there is no folder for "4.7.0" or "4.7", then look in the "master" folder.

Option D. Download the patch file from Github

  • Summary:
  • Required Skills:
    • CiviCRM system administration
    • Basic web development
  • Required Time:
    • Moderate. Generally 20-60 min.
  • Timeframe:
    • You can download patches as soon as they are proposed. This means you can try new patches before they've been reviewed or approved.
  • Caveats:
    • Patches do not always apply cleanly. For example, if there is a big gap in the versions (e.g., your test system is 4.6.0 and the Fix Version is 4.6.5), or if the patch is large, then there's an increased risk that minutiae will prevent the patch from loading on your system.
    • Patches may have hidden dependencies. For example, patch #456 may only work correctly if patch #123 is also loaded. This risk can only be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Option E. Setup a developer system and checkout the patch

  • Summary:
  • Required Skills:
    • CiviCRM system administration
    • Git-based source-code management
    • Unix/Linux (CLI) system administration
  • Required Time:
    • (Initial setup) Generally, 30min - 4 hours. (Depending on environment and experience level.)
    • (Subsequent tests) Generally, 10-30 min.
  • Timeframe:
    • You can download patches as soon as they are proposed. This means you can try new patches before they've been reviewed or approved.
  • Caveats:
    • Not supported on Windows. Use a Linux VM.
    • If you use a MySQL/Apache bundle (such as MAMP or XAMPP), you may need to do extra configuration to enable scripting of the CLI environment.
    • If you get stuck, reach out on Mattermost