Skip to content
Branch: master
Find file History
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.
data Move content to dep-tree folder Mar 14, 2018 Unwrap lines Mar 29, 2018 Change sharing your code section to say upload to recruiting system Jun 28, 2019

Thank you for your interest in working with ActiveState as a developer. This programming assignment will help us to evaluate your skills relative to our working environment and is used as a primary tool in our hiring process. Later on in the hiring process we will have one of our developers pair with you on making changes to your code, fixing bugs, etc.

We expect this assignment to occupy no more than 3 hours of your time. We are primarily looking for high-quality code, including test code, and we recognize that you may not have time to fully polish your work, so focus on code before documentation and other niceties.

We strongly encourage the use of third party packages as you work on this assignment. However, see the note at the end about providing us with instructions on installing/running your assignment.

We are happy to accept solutions provided in the following languages:

  • Go
  • JavaScript
  • Perl
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Ruby

If you would like to use a different language, please contact us before continuing with this assignment.

Time Limit

We'd like you to complete this assignment within one week of receiving instructions to do this from your recruiting contact. However, we understand that this may not always be possible, for any number of reasons. If this poses a problem for you, please let your recruiting contact know what timeline works for you.

Requesting an Exemption

The purpose of this assignment is to help us better understand your abilities as a software engineer. In addition, we will also use the work you produce as part of a pairing session during our hiring process.

You may already have some publicly available code which would help us on both these fronts. If you do, let us know and we will take a look. We’re looking for something with the following characteristics:

  • This must be your project, meaning that you wrote most of the code and you are the project's primary maintainer.
  • It should be something that is neither trivially small nor overwhelmingly large. We’re looking for something that ranges from 500-2000(ish) lines of code. Anything much smaller won’t have enough complexity for us to evaluate your engineering skill. Anything much larger is just overwhelming for us to evaluate and pair with you on.
  • There should be something in the project that you’d like to work on during a pairing session. This could be fixing a bug, adding a small feature, doing a refactoring, adding tests, etc. We don’t have to finish this work during the session, but it should be something simple enough that we can really dig into it in the space of 90 minutes.

Please let your recruiting contact at ActiveState know if you have something you think is appropriate. We'll get back to you promptly to let you know if it is, in which case you can skip the homework assignment entirely.


We have provided some sample data in the form of the META.json files that accompany most Perl libraries uploaded to CPAN. See for documentation on this format.

This data does not contain circular references and you do not need to handle those in your program.

For this assignment, the only important key in this metadata is the prereqs key.

The files are located under data/ in a directory tree where each subdirectory corresponds to the name of a Perl distribution, like “DateTime”, "Eval-Closure", or "Module-Runtime".

There are also some additional support files under data/. The first is a data/module-distro-map.json that maps Perl module names to Perl distribution names. Note that the META.json files belong to a distribution (distro), but the prereqs themselves always specify individual modules. A distro can contain one or more modules. This means you will need to translate from module names to distro names when you are constructing your dependency tree.

All of the files you need are in the data/ directory. You should not need to fetch additional data from CPAN or anywhere else on the Internet.

The other is a data/core-modules.json file. This contains an array of modules which are shipped with the Perl core.

Your assignment requires reading this metadata and producing fully resolved dependency trees.

In the metadata, dependencies are defined by phase ("runtime", "test", etc.) and by relationship ("requires", "recommends", "suggests").

We are only interested in "runtime" phase dependencies where the relationship is "requires". You can ignore everything else.

The Program

You will write a command line program that accepts the following command line arguments:

  • --name - The name of a distribution for which dependencies should be resolved. May be specified more than once.

The program should output a single JSON object to stdout. That JSON object should look like this:

    "DateTime": {
        "DateTime-Locale": {
            "Params-ValidationCompiler": {

The object's keys are distribution names and the values are in turn objects where the keys are distribution names. You should completely resolve the dependency tree for all runtime prereqs. That means some distros may appear as an object key more than once.

If your program is given multiple --name flags you should still produce a single JSON object. Each of the distro names given on the command line should be a top-level key in the JSON object you produce.

If a module name (not a distro name) appears in the list of core modules in data/core-modules.json then you can omit it from the output entirely. You can also ignore version numbers for the purposes of this assignment.

You can also ignore "perl" as a prereq. (This specifies the minimum version of Perl that a distro needs.)

If a particular distro has no dependencies, represent it as an empty object in the JSON.

Instructions for Us

If your solution requires the installation of additional libraries, packages, etc., please provide details on how we should do this in order to run your code. Assume that we will be running this code on an Ubuntu Linux system (Trusty or Xenial). If you can provide a Dockerfile with your solution, that is a plus.

Do not assume that we have expertise with the language you have chosen for your implementation.

Include instructions on how to run your solution either in a README file of some sort or as the output of a your-solution --help flag. Your instructions should tell us how to specify the location of the data directory and how to specify the distro name(s) to look for.

Sharing Your Code with Us

Please upload a zip or tarball attachment to our recruiting system.

We do not want your solution available on the public Internet. Do not put this code into a public repo in order to share it with us.

You can’t perform that action at this time.