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Re: [cdt-dev] Should we (re)introduce components in CDT

I just want to make a few comments regarding the concern that there is not enough active contribution going on in CDT.

In my opinion one of the biggest problems with CDT is that the codebase is overwhelmingly complex combined with the fact that there is almost no developer documentation. This is a very bad situation because potential interested contributors don't have documentation to guide them and may be scared off by the complexity of CDT. The fact that CDT is complex is probably unavoidable because C++ is a very complex language, but that just means that documentation is even more important for CDT to have.

I can say from personal experience that the lack of docs is a real pain for new contributors, and serves as a huge barrier to entry. When I first started working for IBM it took me a long time to get even slightly comfortable working in the core. With no documentation to go on I had no choice but to just dive into the code. I spent several months just digging through piles of code and essentially reverse-engineering the core so that I could understand how it works. This should not be necessary, and most importantly a hobbyist would probably not do this.

Having good developer documentation would encourage contributions. Potential contributors would have a place to start learning how CDT works. CDT is actually a very interesting piece of software to work on once you get comfortable with it. Documentation would serve to spark interest, make people feel comfortable and encourage contributions.

Now back to the question of introducing processes. Adding new processes starting now is one thing, but we must also consider that we have not had any processes for a very long time. Some areas may have to be addressed retroactively. For example if we do add documentation standards we cannot just simply start writing documentation for new features that are added from now on, we must go back and document existing code to bring it up to the standard. Weather people have the time and are willing to do this is an open question. But I believe that documenting existing code can only have a positive effect on encouraging new contributions.

Mike Kucera
Software Developer
IBM Eclipse CDT Team

Inactive hide details for Chris Recoskie---09/03/2008 10:36:59 AM---A few points, in no particular order: We already have the sChris Recoskie---09/03/2008 10:36:59 AM---A few points, in no particular order: We already have the system where in theory every individual committer has a veto over any


Chris Recoskie/Toronto/IBM@IBMCA


"CDT General developers list." <cdt-dev@xxxxxxxxxxx>


"CDT General developers list." <cdt-dev@xxxxxxxxxxx>, cdt-dev-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxx


09/03/2008 10:36 AM


Re: [cdt-dev] Should we (re)introduce components in CDT

A few points, in no particular order:
    • We already have the system where in theory every individual committer has a veto over any changes, so assuming your PMC is made up of committers, they do have a veto.
    • Should indexing really be a separate component from the rest of core? It is pretty intimitely threaded throughout the other features. Although admittedly, if you don't split it out, under the remains of your proposal you are left with esstentially Debug and Not-Debug, which is probably not granular enough.
        • As another point to keep in mind, factoring out the indexer into its own plugin (to meet your criteria that plugins do not overlap) would make for a lot of API churn. Not saying it can't be done, but it's a significant issue that would have to be kept in mind, as there are many clients using these interfaces.
    • There is already a certain amount of "keep your toys out of my sandbox" behaviour that happens as is. We have to be careful to make sure our process doesn't encourage this further. We want components, not empires.
    • While I support the concept in theory, I think in practice it's going to fall down
        • The components that would most benefit by the addition of some process are generally in that state because the people working on those components eschew processes. If we are going to rely on those components to self organize and adopt a process then we are probably in for disappointment.
        • Time, as Mikhail has already brought up. While all of the activities you list are important and I agree that things would be better if they were done, it more or less assumes that someone is going to devote enough of their time to do them. Given people could already be doing these activities now, I doubt anything is going to magically change that will suddenly convince them (or their managers) to start spending time on these activities, especially when most people are part-time.
        • Accountability. If there is no reporting structure between a committer and their component lead, there is no real way for them to enforce bug assignments, or any other part of the process. The committer can always say no. What's the recourse if that happens? Should there even be a recourse?
I am not trying to rain on the parade here. I agree with your plan, so don't misread me. We need this. I'm trying to be realistic here though. I'm not sure it can be pulled off.

I will make some bold statements here and not pull any punches, which may irk people, but some of this needs to be said IMHO. Our history of poor process has significantly hurt development and adoption of CDT. While CDT has a very diverse committer community, for which we are rightly applauded, our process is a train wreck compared to many other Eclipse projects. Much of even the most basic software development and software engineering process does not happen (or perhaps some of them do, but not in public, e.g. testing), and as a result, a lot of things fall through the cracks. I am not trying to preach from an ivory tower here as I fully acknowledge that I am not without sin either. In any case, despite our shortcomings, it is not to say that a lot of good work is not also done either, and I don't want to take away from that. But, with every release it is becoming harder for people to consume CDT, and harder to contribute and coordinate efforts in any meaningful way. If we don't start enacting some process to help support it, CDT is going to eventually collapse under its own weight.

Chris Recoskie
Team Lead, IBM CDT Team
IBM Toronto

Inactive hide details for Pawel Piech <pawel.piech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>Pawel Piech <pawel.piech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

                  Pawel Piech <pawel.piech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
                  Sent by: cdt-dev-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxx

                  08/28/2008 07:38 PM

Please respond to
"CDT General developers list." <cdt-dev@xxxxxxxxxxx>

"CDT General developers list." <cdt-dev@xxxxxxxxxxx>

[cdt-dev] Should we (re)introduce components in CDT

Hi All,

This email is a follow up to the discussion we started at the
last CDT conference call meeting. At this meeting I proposed that CDT project should introduce some level of componentization as a prerequisite to migrating the DSF framework and GDB implementation from Device Debugging into the CDT project. My idea was pretty simple: carve up CDT into logical components where each component can designate a leader and agree on its own set of required processes. This way if we brought in DSF into CDT we could maintain the planning/bug fixing/testing processes that we worked hard to create. Unfortunately, it seems that CDT participation is heavily lopsided towards one component, also the CDT architecture does not make a clean separation between components with the clear exception of Debug.

Non the less, I still believe that defining some form of components and a leadership structure would help the CDT establish better process that many people have expressed a desire for. So my revised proposal for CDT components is the following:

1) Define an initial flat list components that follow the architectural separation in the code today, which as I understand it would result in:
          a) Core - including: project managment, build, as well as editor.
          Debug - including CDI, stanandard debug model implementation, launch, and UI
If we all agree to contribute DSF to CDT we would create additional components
          e) DSF
If there is a need and as architecture permits, existing components could be split further. but the new components would still need to meet a certain level of autonomy.

2) What components would and would not be:
          a) It should be wholly contained in one or more plugins. I.e. components should not share plugins.
          b) It would optionally have a leader who's role would be to document and enforce the process of that component.
          A component leader would NOT have any kind of a veto power over code commits or changes to the component process, that would be the role of the PMC.
          c) It would define a plan for that component which would be pulled into the project plan for CDT.
          d) It would maintain a list of "new and improved" which would also be pulled into the overall CDT new and improved.
          e) It would optionally define a process for assigning, fixing, and verifying bugs
          f) It would optionally have a test plan such as information of automatic test coverage, procedures for manutal tests, a sign up list for milestone tests, etc.
          g) It would NOT have a restricted list of committers. I.e. any CDT committers could commit changes to any CDT component.
3) Create a CDT PMC
The PMC would be made up of any component leaders plus any other committers elected into the PMC. As mentioned above, the PMC would have veto power over commits and process changes in any component, which would dilute the power of any component leader. The PMC's role would also be to enforce API and feature freezes, and approve checkins during ramp down.... which I guess is pretty much standard in other projects.

We still have about three weeks until the CDT summit. If by then we could reach some kind of consensus on a CDT component strategy, including who would like to contribute their time to lead a component, it would make the CDT Summit a whole lot more productive for everyone involved.


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