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Perl Helper Tools for Azure Pipelines

This repo contains a set of tools and Azure Pipelines templates designed to make it easy to test Perl projects with multiple versions of Perl across Linux, macOS, and Windows.

Stability Level

I consider this stuff to be at a beta level of stability. I'm trying to do all work in branches so that the master branch will always work with existing projects. However, I may make breaking changes to the way templates are used, so I encourage you to pin your use to a tag. See below for details on how to do that.

Creating a Service Connection

In order to use these templates in your pipelines you must create a "Service Connection" for your Azure project. Fortunately this is only needed once per Azure project, and a single project can contain many pipelines, each of which corresponds to a single code project (GitHub repo, Subversion repo, etc.).

Go to

Click on the project that contains (or will contain) the pipelines which will use these templates.

Click on the gear icon in the lower left.

Location of gear icon

Click on "Service Connections".

Location of "Service Connections" link

Select "New service connection", then "GitHub".

"New service connection" prompt

For "Authentication method" select "Grant authorization".

Creating a service connection

For "OAuth Configuration" select "AzurePipelines".

Click on "Authorize". You may be prompted to log in to GitHub and/or to allow a third party application to access GitHub on your behalf. You will need to allow this, obviously.

The connection name can be anything you want. It is simply used to refer to the connection in your azure-pipelines.yml files. I suggest using houseabsolute/ci-perl-helpers if you don't have a naming scheme you want to use.

Click on "Save".

If you have multiple Azure DevOps projects you will need to do this once per project. Note that a single project can contain many repos with many pipelines. You only need separate projects if you want separate ACLs.

Quick Start

Put this in your azure-pipelines.yml file:

    - repository: ci-perl-helpers
      type: github
      name: houseabsolute/ci-perl-helpers
      endpoint: houseabsolute/ci-perl-helpers

  - template: templates/build.yml@ci-perl-helpers
  - template: templates/linux.yml@ci-perl-helpers
      test_xt: true
      use_default_perls: true
  - template: templates/macos.yml@ci-perl-helpers
      use_default_perls: true
  - template: templates/windows.yml@ci-perl-helpers
      use_default_perls: true

The resources.repositories.endpoint value must match the name of the Service Connection you created.

This will test your Perl project in the following scenarios:

  • On Windows, using the latest stable version of Perl available via Berrybrew.
  • On macOS, using the latest stable version of Perl.
  • On Linux with the last stable release of each major Perl version starting from 5.8.9 up to the newest stable release (5.30.1 at the time this was written).
  • On Linux with the latest dev release of Perl.
  • On Linux with the current contents of the blead branch of the repo. If tests fail when prove is run then your pipeline will still pass, but a failure to compile your code will cause the pipeline to fail.

Pinning a Helpers Version

If you do not specify a ref when referring to this repo, your build will always pull the latest version of this project's templates from this repo's master branch. To pin your project to a specific verson of these templates, add a ref key:

    - repository: ci-perl-helpers
      type: github
      name: houseabsolute/ci-perl-helpers
      ref: refs/tags/v0.1.0
      endpoint: houseabsolute/ci-perl-helpers

Common Parameters

There is one template for the build stage, build.yml, and three test stage templates, linux.yml, macos.yml, and windows.yml.

All of these take the following common parameters:

Name Type Default Description
cache_key string "cache" If you set this to a string it will be used as part of the cache key for the Perl installation used by this stage. Every time you change this key you will invalidate the old cache. In most cases you should not need to change this, but if your build fails in a confusing way you can try setting this to see if that fixes the problem. If it does, just leave the new key in place and the next build will use the new cache.
debug boolean false If you set this to a true value then the helper tools will spew out a lot more debugging information. Please set this to true and do a build before reporting issues with these tools. That way I can look at your failed build and have a better sense of what went wrong.
image_version string tag or branch of the ci-perl-helpers repo This is the suffix used as part of the Docker tag for image that the build job runs on. You should not set this manually unless you have a very good reason. By default, this suffix is determined by looking at the version of the ci-perl-helpers repo that you referenced. This will be checked out and the appropriate tag or branch name will be chosen based on that checkout. This is only used for the build.yml and linux.yml templates.

Test Stages

The test stages share most of their parameters in common.

Choosing Perl Versions

There are a number of options for choosing which versions of Perl you want to test with. When referring to Perl versions there are two different ways to do so. You can pass a full version like "5.12.1" or "5.28.2", or you can pass just the major and minor version like "5.12" or "5.28". If you just pass major and minor then the helpers will automatically pick the highest patch release for that minor series of releases.

You can also use the following strings:

  • latest - the most recent stable Perl release
  • dev - the most recent dev release
  • blead - a Perl will be built from the latest code in the perl5 git repository.

The templates accept the following parameters to determine which Perls to test with.

Name Type Default Description
use_default_perls boolean false If this is true, the stage will use whatever the default Perl versions are for that operating system. See the "Quick Start" section above for a description of each template's defaults.
perls array of strings [] You can use this to provide an explicit list of Perl versions to test with.
from_perl and to_perl string "" You can set one or both of these to ask for a range of Perl versions. The range is inclusive of both the low and high ends. See below for more details.
include_threads boolean false If this is true then both unthreaded and threaded versions of each Perl will be tested. This parameter is not supported by the windows.yml template since on Windows Perl is always built with threads.
allow_failure array of strings [ "blead" ] An array of Perl versions for which test failures are not treated as a failure of the CI job. You can refer to Perl versions in this array using the same options as you do elsewhere.


When selecting a range of Perls, the last patch release of a minor series will be selected. If you leave one end of the range unset, then it uses the default bounds for the range. The default lowest Perl is 5.8.9 and the default highest Perl is blead.

Available Versions

The following versions are available on Linux and macOS:

  • 5.8.9
  • 5.10.1
  • Every stable release thereafter.
  • latest, the most recent stable release.
  • dev, the most recent dev release, such as 5.31.7.
  • blead, the latest commit to the perl5 git repository.

On Windows, the available versions are the same as those supported by Berrybrew. When a version is available in both 64- and 32-bit variants, the 64-bit variant will always be chosen.

Other Parameters

All of the test stages allow you to run coverage and extended tests, to provide custom steps, and to install arbitrary packages.

Name Type Default Description
coverage string "" By default the test stages do not run tests with coverage enabled. You can use this parameter to enable a coverage test. If you set this to a non-empty string then coverage will be tested with the most recent stable release of Perl included in this stage. The value of this string determines the type of coverage report that is generated. See below for the allowed options.
coverage_partitions number 1 Running tests under Devel::Cover can be much slower than running them normally. You can partition coverage testing into an arbitrary number of partitions to make this faster.
coverage_perl string "" The version of Perl to use when running coverage tests. By default this will be the most recent stable version of Perl included in this stage will be used.
publish_coverage_artifact boolean false If this is true then the raw output from Devel::Cover will be published as a build artifact. This is disabled by default because some test suites generate incredibly enormous numbers of coverage files, which take a very long time to publish.
test_xt boolean false If this is true, then one of the test runs will be done with the AUTOMATED_TESTING, AUTHOR_TESTING, EXTENDED_TESTING, and RELEASE_TESTING environment variables will be set. In addition, the xt directory will be tested in addition the usual t directory. This will be done with the most recent stable release of Perl included in this stage.
extra_prereqs array [] A list of extra Perl packages to be installed before running tests. This list will be passed to cpm install.
pre_test_steps and post_test_steps array of steps [] You can provide an arbitrary list of steps to be run at the start or end of the job that runs the tests.
apt (Linux), brew, (macOS), choco (Windows) array of strings [] You can use this to pass a list of packages to be installed by the appropriate package manager (Apt, Brew, or Chocolatey).

The following values are accepted for the coverage parameter:

  • html - Generates a report as a set of HTML files.
  • clover - Generates a report in the format expected by the Atlassian Clover software.
  • codecov - Uploads coverage data to You must also set CODECOV_TOKEN as a pipeline variable. You almost certainly want to make this value secret. If your repository contains a .codecov.yml file then this will be used when uploading the report.
  • coveralls - Uploads coverage data to You must also set COVERALLS_TOKEN as a pipeline variable. You almost certainly want to make this value secret.
  • sonarqube - Generates a report in the format expected by SonarQube. See the Devel::Cover::Report::SonarGeneric docs for details on how to have this automatically uploaded to SonarQube.

Installing Tools for Extended Tests

If you have a script at ./dev-bin/, this will be run before running extended tests. This script can be used to do things like installing non-Perl dependencies. The best place to install things is in /usr/local/bin, which is already in the PATH when tests are run.

How This Works

These tools consist of a set of Azure Pipeline templates, Perl scripts for various tasks, and a set of Docker images for Linux testing.

The Docker images contain two versions of Perl, one of which is used to run the tools and build the distribution, and one of which is used to execute your package's tests. This is useful for a few reasons. First, it me use modern Perl idioms (like subroutine signatures) in the the tools. Second, it means you can test on older Perls even if your tooling requires a newer Perl. For example, Dist::Zilla requires Perl 5.14.0 but I have distros which use it and still support 5.8.9. It also means that dependencies needed for building, for example Dist::Zilla and its dependencies, are not present when running tests. That means there's a better chance of discovering missing prereqs.

The Pipeline itself has several stages. The Build stage contains a single job. This job checks out your source and generates a tarball from it using your build tooling. The helper tools can detect the use of dzil or minilla, and will use them when appropriate. Otherwise the tools fall back to using your Makefile.PL or Build.PL and executing make dist or ./Build dist. The resulting tarball is saved as a pipeline artifact.

Then there is one test stage for each of the supported operating systems, Linux, macOS, and Windows. These stages have several jobs. The first job in each stage dynamically generates a matrix of test jobs based on the parameters you provide. Each entry in the matrix turns into a separate job for a single Perl version.

Each matrix job downloads the tarball created in the Build stage. The job extracts this tarball and executes the contained Makefile.PL or Build.PL, as appropriate. The tests are then run using prove.

If you asked for coverage testing, the appropriate HARNESS_PERL_SWITCHES environment variable settings are used to invoke Devel::Cover. All of the coverage output is optionally saved as a build artifact. Some coverage reporters also upload the report directly to a code coverage service. Finally, the test output from prove is turned into JUnit XML and uploaded as a set of test results, which lets you see a more detailed view of test failures in the Azure Pipelines screen for each CI run.

Todo Items

See this repository's issues for todo items.


Makes comprehensive testing of Perl projects in Azure Pipelines trivial






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