[Cdash] rewriting CDash's frontend

Zack Galbreath zack.galbreath at kitware.com
Thu Mar 19 19:11:13 UTC 2015

Hi everybody,

I think we should rewrite CDash's frontend using AngularJS.  The
overarching goal is to make it easier to add new features, visualizations,
and plugins to CDash.  We want you to be able to get more value out of your
build data, and we want to make it easier for you to interact with CDash.

To accomplish this, we should define a REST API for sending & receiving
data to & from CDash.  Internally CDash should use this API exclusively so
we don't have to maintain two separate data paths.  Another benefit of this
change would be making development easier & more pleasant by removing XSLT
from CDash.  Once we have a stable API in place, we could safely make
sweeping changes to CDash's backend without fear of breaking the app.

Here's a link to a proof-of-concept branch where I've converted the
viewBuildError page to use AngularJS instead of XSLT:
Notice how this transition could safely occur one page at a time.

Your probably thinking at this point, why Angular?

For frontend development, I like the idea of writing code as close to HTML
as possible, but with the added power of dynamically loaded data,
conditionals, and loops.

I looked into other client-side templating engines and they didn't seem as
simple or clean to me.  For more on this point, here's a relatively old
blog post that sums up my feelings pretty well:

Angular also comes with two-way binding.  This means that new builds could
appear on index.php as they roll in without you having to refresh your page.

I realize that Angular 2.0 is on the horizon.  That's scary, but I don't
think it should prevent us from using the best tools at our disposal.
Perhaps it's misguided, but my plan is to use Angular primarily for its
templating engine, and keep as much logic as possible in PHP.  My hope is
that by minimizing the amount of Angular-specific code that we write,
upgrading to 2.0 (if we decide to do that) won't be as difficult as feared.

Thanks for reading this far.  Please share any ideas, questions, or
concerns that you might have at this point.
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