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From Peter Kelly <pmke...@apache.org>
Subject Re: "I'd Really Like This Done By Friday"
Date Fri, 13 Feb 2015 10:33:43 GMT
> On 13 Feb 2015, at 4:14 pm, Dennis E. Hamilton <dennis.hamilton@acm.org> wrote:
> 
> There is a great lessons-learned article at 
> <http://jasonpunyon.com/blog/2015/02/12/providence-failure-is-always-an-option/>.
> 
> Joel Spolski, whose company supports Stack Exchange, made this comment in his twitter
message about it:
> 
> "Now you know why experienced developers are really conservative about technology choices."
> 
> My reason for remarking on this, beside it being a great story, is the "I'd Really Like
This Done By Friday"  topic on the very end.  I notice that we do not seem to have very many
places in Corinthia, right now, where such prospects for agile baby-steps stand out.  (The
request to make Windows Native scripts for the externals downloads and extractions is the
closest I've seen that I could act on that way.)

Anyone can start writing a filter today, without immediate concern as to ensuring it fits
within an a particular architectural structure. It doesn’t even need to use any of the functions
in the library - if the algorithms are in place, they can be subsequently integrated into
the main codebase.

Here’s a couple of other quotes from the article:

"Bad planning, bad tech decisions, and a propensity for sinking weeks on things only incidental
to the problem all adds up to excruciatingly…slow…failure.”

"We dropped back to the simplest system we could think of that would get us going" ... "Within
two weeks we had real-world tests going and we got incredibly lucky. Results of the model
tests were nearly universally positive.”

My takeaway from this is that it’s a bad idea to obsess too much over architecture, build
processes, and getting a perfect underlying structure before starting on feature work that
matters to end users. I think this an extremely valuable lesson.

> I am thinking that moving Corinthia to Apache might have been a bit premature with regard
to the state of the code base and the degree to which the super-programmer has ideas about
how it is to become different.  Agreed, Corinthia is a podling.  However, it seems me that
the reason for being an Incubator project is not so much about the status of the code, it
is more about a place to transform to a project and process that evolves toward some level
of *sustainable* maturity.  Currently, there is a lot of moving target and it depends on the
super-programmer as benevolent dictator at this point.

Well, I don’t want to be a benevolent dictator. Sure, I have a lot of ideas for the project
- as do others - that I’d like to see come to fruition some day. But my ideas shouldn’t
carry any more weight than anyone else’s. Jan is another person who has lots of ideas and
has done significant work on improving the architecture (prior to his involvement there was
no clean separation of concerns in the codebase), and I anticipate further improvements in
this area.

But I disagree that this means it was too early to move into incubator, or that it’s too
early for people to start working on whatever they are interested in the project. As I mentioned
previously, if we wait for a stable base then nothing will ever get done, because the base
is something will evolve to meet our needs as a team, and that’s only something that can
be done with involvement from all of us, working together.

My “out-there" ideas about a generic parser library, the statically typed, functional programming
language for implementing language transformations, the implementations of filters in that
language as opposed to C, formal verification of transformation algorithms etc are all just
stuff I’ve been thinking about. The last thing I want is for these or any other suggestions
I’ve made to be seen as reasons for delaying beginning of coding work on stuff like ODF.

> With regard to exhortations to start doing something, I just stumbled on the quotation
at the beginning of Mythical Man Month Chapter 6, Passing the Word.
> 
>   He'll sit here and he'll say, "Do this! Do that!" 
>   And nothing will happen.

There was a bug report someone filed about requesting a roadmap. I was waiting for someone
else to fill one in, but after a few weeks of nothing happening on that front I came along
with my comments about ODF (which I assume you’re referring to). My suggestion really comes
down to the notion that we should be focusing on new features or major improvements.

I’m well aware of the difficulties caused by lack of proper documentation - which I’m
continually trying to find time to get around to. I have to juggle this with paying work though
which is keeping me quite busy right now. However, I’d love to answer questions about “How
does thing X work?”, “Why did you do Y this way?” etc. as I think this would help people
along and also be a good indication of the most important priorities for documentation.

—
Dr Peter M. Kelly
pmkelly@apache.org

PGP key: http://www.kellypmk.net/pgp-key <http://www.kellypmk.net/pgp-key>
(fingerprint 5435 6718 59F0 DD1F BFA0 5E46 2523 BAA1 44AE 2966)


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