Newsletter:1/ZenPack Generator Interview

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ZenPack Generator Interview

I chatted recently via Skype with Eric Edgar from our Solutions Department to discuss the new ZenPack Generator beta, and how it can save you time and tedium writing ZenPacks. Shane Scott also comments on his personal experiences with the ZPG beta.
ZenPack-generator.jpg

I chatted recently via Skype with Eric Edgar from our Solutions Department to discuss the new ZenPack Generator beta, and how it can save you time and tedium developing your own ZenPacks. Shane William Scott also comments on his personal experiences with the ZPG beta.

For those types who like to skip the interview and get right to the code, head over to the ZPG GitHub page, and of course read the manual. (Ed: though if you are the kind of person to skip the interview, you probably won't read the manual, either. Feh.)

Interview

Andrew D Kirch: Would you tell me about yourself, and your history at Zenoss?

Eric Edgar: I’m a systems admin with 10 years experience. I was a Zenoss Master and part of the community and provided L2 support for customers, and have since moved on to the Solutions team at Zenoss, Inc.

Andrew D Kirch: On to the ZenPack Generator (ZPG). It’s new. How do people get it, and how do they provide feedback?

Eric Edgar: the ZenPack Generator Beta is available via GitHub at https://github.com/zenoss/ZenPackGenerator. Feedback can be provided via GitHub, and when it is released as stable there will be the ability to file tickets in JIRA.


Andrew D Kirch: What does ZenPack Generator do?

Eric Edgar: The ZenPack Generator creates the Components, relationships between Components, the JavaScript, and the directory structure for developing a new ZenPack. This saves considerable hours of developer time -- many hours if you have a more complex model and more components. It also manages the Template changes in a local git repo.


Andrew D Kirch: What doesn’t the ZenPack Generator do?

Eric Edgar: Right now, modelers are very custom. I've never seen two that are the same, and ZPG support for modelers are under investigation for the future. You’ll also need to do your own performance templates, though the current version of ZPG does make this a bit easier.


Andrew D Kirch: Besides laying out skeleton code for a new ZenPack, what else can ZPG do?

Eric Edgar: In addition to ZPG functionality, it comes with a tools folder with various scripts that do things like creating performance templates from JSON. These aren't fully documented yet (Ed: for shame!) but they do work and should save you some time.

ZPG Initial Community Feedback

One of our prominent Open Source community members, Shane William Scott, has been using ZPG for a few weeks and apparently liked it quite a bit, as he wrote up this riveting endorsement of ZPG and told us he would be personally offended (at least that was my impression) if we did not include it as a footnote to this interview:

In my opinion, the ZenPack Generator is an excellent way to lower the learning curve of complex ZenPack development for new and casual Zenoss users. This not only will help stimulate community development of ZenPacks covering more devices and platforms, but will help ensure new users are not overwhelmed by the complexity of developing support. Another advantage of the ZenPack Generator is that it'll help promote more standardized approaches, proper object relationships and consistent component code. More consistent and standardized code means a more consistent user experience, easier troubleshooting and simplified bug reporting. Architecturally the ZenPack Generator abstracts pack development into a standardized syntax allowing the ZenPack Generator to be upgraded and maintained while not necessarily requiring updates to the ZPG source file created by users. This approach is ideal for a constant delivery environment using Jenkins or similar software. These improvements will help simulate growth of the community as an entity and help reduce the coding overhead involved with operating and maintaining the community.

Shane, thanks for testing out ZPG, and we encourage others to do so as well and submit your feedback and development ideas. Check it out on its GitHub page, and please, don't forget to read the manual. I think we may be on to something with ZPG. Let us know.