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From MaXiujuan <>
Subject Re: How contributors participate in this community?
Date Tue, 06 Mar 2012 06:38:56 GMT

  I am so grateful for your time and patience! Your helps are 
quite valuable for me to improve my understanding about open source and

On Mon, 2012-03-05 at 09:18 -0600, Russell E Glaue wrote:
> comments inline.
> On 03/02/2012 11:58 AM, maxj07 wrote:
> > Hi, Russell E Glaue,
> >
> >> On Tue, 2012-02-28 at 14:57 -0600, Russell E Glaue wrote:
> >> I'd like to give an answer since I am not and IBM employee, and actually work
> >> a University-based non-profit organization.
> >
> >     Thank you very much for your kindly reply! I have read it carefully
> > and they are quite valuable insights and useful for me to know these
> > details about external contributors of Geronimo.
> >
> >>> 1) It seems that Geronimo gets less external developers after IBM's
> >>> support -- I identified external developers through the committer list
> >>> on Apache website
> >>> (committers not from IBM are regarded as external developers.
> >
> >>    From the outside, it looks like the internal and external developers who
> >> committers have ongoing momentum in working towards specific milestones. It
> >> difficult for non-committers to get onto the bandwagon for working on the same
> >> milestones.
> >>
> >> Those who are not paid by their employer to improve the general viability of
> >> Geronimo may only be able, or have time, to target specific items that prevent
> >> Geronimo from being usable for them or their employer.
> >
> > Thanks for the information. So, to my understanding, it looks like those
> > committers from IBM are more responsible for the core functionalities
> > and roadmap of Geronimo, and the other committers more tend to
> > voluntarily contribute to some bug fixes or patches, etc, right?
> There are more committers than just IBM employees. My point about the IBM 
> employee members is that IBM has invested full-time employees to the project, 
> and because those employees are smart and dedicated to Geronimo full-time they 
> just happen to be members of the community that work on core functionality.
> All committers work on core functionality. But the time their employer or family 
> gives them to work on the project is directly related to their level of 
> contribution to core functionality.
So it is. Super! Thanks for explaining to me.

> >
> >> Without an easy and widely-usable software application, the community will find
> >> it difficult to gain adoption from new users. Without new users, the community
> >> will end up having fewer people contributing - I believe this is a sensible
> >> attribution.
> >>
> > That's true. I can't agree more:)
> >
> >> The ones you term the IBM developers, are all working towards specific core
> >> goals at this time, like OSGI compatibility, which is definitely the way the
> >> industry needs to go. But, as of today, OSGI is not necessary to publish a
> >> general web application for general web user usage. Only us few hard-core geeks
> >> see the value and want to use it - though one day it will be necessary. Some,
> >> like me, will argue OSGI is long overdue for the industry.
> >
> > Thanks for sharing! (In fact, I am also fond of OSGi too. I just cannot
> > help telling u that the topic of my graduation project when i was an
> > undergraduate was using OSGi technique to refactor the kernel of our
> > JavaEE application server, namely PKUAS, developed by our institute
> > then.) Anyway, i think adopting OSGi technique in Geronimo must be a
> > good thing. I mean, see, two other application server i know, JBoss and
> > JOnAS are using OSGi now:P
> >
> I am an OW2 member. OSGI is long overdue for Geronimo, in my opinion.
Thanks for information.

> >
> >> Because the IBM developers are working on core goals, there are few magical
> >> touches and cosmetic lights (like the neon sign) that attract new users in the
> >> same way a bug light attracts bugs. And because the core goals are being worked
> >> towards, it is difficult to put the extra magic into the cosmetics until that
> >> done. OSGI needs some cosmetics, for example, to make it "look" attractive to
> >> external users who may have no idea what it is.
> >>
> >> The result is new potential contributors (non-IBM employees), which will have
> >> only limited time to contribute, understand less of what is under the hood,
> >> as a result are not able to easily get involved.
> >
> > It is quite a valuable point and it would be not easily to get more new
> > external contributors under this case. Besides, I think maybe there is
> > another possibility that the current committers are capable and
> > sufficient to develop Geronimo, or maybe if the agenda was tight, IBM
> > would put more developers into Geronimo. Can this happen?
> I cannot speak for IBM's commitment.
> As the development of Geronimo progresses, the community will naturally gain 
> more volunteers. Right now as we are trying to push out 3.0, with OSGI, this 
> phase is more difficult to get involved in writing code.
> For me, I am focused on what my employer's needs are, and I submit patches and 
> work through functionality with other committers. Then I make sure to update the 
> documentation which is something I can do to give core developers more time to 
> work on code.
> People who are less involved can contribute a lot. They can tailor documentation 
> to meet the needs of those who are more novice, or work through Geronimo on 
> their own and fix language in the documentation accordingly. And testing and bug 
> reporting is always welcome.
OK. Thank you!
> >
> >> Once us external non-committers get involved, we don't see any reason why IBM's
> >> resource investment would cause Geronimo to be less desirable as a product.
> >
> > I'm sorry, but i don't catch the point of the above. Does it mean that
> > you have no idea why IBM's investment makes Geronimo less desirable? Or
> > you don't think Geronimo  is less desirable? Please don't mind, it's my
> > problem with english.
> There is no reason why IBM's involvement would ever make Geronimo less 
> desirable. And those of us who get involved especially see that their 
> contribution makes Geronimo just more valuable.
> Geronimo is open source, completely. Anyone can make Geronimo better. If 
> Geronimo does not do something you want, you can write the new functionality 
> yourself. And if you are willing, contribute it back to the community.
Thanks for your confirmation!

> >
> >>
> >> Though, IBM's resources are probably focused towards specific advancement in
> >> Geronimo the company is interested in. But then again, this is the same for
> >> employer which wants me to focus on one specific part of Geronimo to make it
> >> usable for it. So that seems like a normal happening. And they go together,
> >> without one, the other may not happen. That is without IBM's continuing
> >> investment, my employer may not want to be involved.
> >>
> > I agree with you. IBM contributed Geronimo a lot. The first time I heard
> > of Geronimo was also because IBM, its WAS CE:P
> >
> >>>
> >>> I also observed that JBoss showed the similar phenomena after RedHat
> >>> stepped
> >>> in. I suppose commercial involvement might hurt people in open source to
> >>> some extent, I wonder what it is.
> >>
> >> Geronimo and JBoss projects probably would benefit from evangelizers who can
> >> help gain broader adoption and show off value.
> >>
> >> The corporate involvement in the OSS projects is to advance the functionality
> >> for the corporate entity's use. This benefits the project greatly, but there
> >> no resources put into evangelizing what is created (a.k.a. Marketing).
> >>
> >> I think this is the detachment.
> >> Imagine taking the marketing department out of a typical software company, and
> >> ask the developers to promote their software project while also developing the
> >> software. For one, the developers are too busy developing.
> >>
> >> My employer does not want to pay me to market Geronimo to outside interests..
> >> they want me to develop Geronimo into a usable product for their immediate use.
> >>
> > The lack of Marketing resources might be the reality for open source
> > projects, especially when the software is used by technical people other
> > than end users like a web browser or operating system, I think. So I
> > agree with you, the OSS projects could benefit from combining with
> > companies, when the companies would like to provide some marketing
> > resources, isn't it?
> How does this puzzle piece fit together?
> IBM provides some level of marketing indirectly through WAS's publicizing.
> The rest of us just have to use Geronimo and write about it.
> >
> >>
> >>>
> >>> 2) However, I found Geronimo developers stay shorter after IBM supported
> >>> it.
> >>> I am very curious about two things:
> >>>
> >>> (i) Only 2 out of 20 developers left before IBM supporting, why are so
> >>> few developers leave and so many developers stick to this Open Source
> >>> project at that time? Did those developers come from the same company or
> >>> work in the same location?
> >>
> >> Probably at the beginning there was a lot of "marketing" for the project. And
> >> just like start-ups, a lot of people want to be a part of it.... for the
> >> short-term. Turn over in start-up companies is high.
> >>
> >> People like me get started at the beginning, but later their employer moves
> >> on to other more immediate issues. But I did come back!
> >>
> > I'm so glad to know so dedicative people here like you:)
> >
> > If it's convenient, would you mind tell your story about Geronimo? Like
> > how to obtain the commit privilege? I think it might be very hard but a
> > lot of fun? I am just curious if i want to participate into an open
> > source project, how a long way i need to take. You know, for my
> > classmates around me, the problem isn't they don't want to join an open
> > source project, they just don't know how to.
> Here are the steps over a timeline:
> 1. Pick a project you want to spend at least the next year working on.
> 2. Start using the project
> 3. Test the project and ask questions on the mail lists.
> 4. Answer questions from others on the mail lists.
> 5. Help enter real issues into the issue tracking system.
> 6. Help update documentation
> 7. Write about Geronimo and help evangelize it
> 8. Start fixing issues logged in the issue tracker, submit patches and work with 
> committers to get them applied.
> 9. Find new issues, log them in the issue tracker, and submit patches.
> 10. Do steps 1 through 9 enough times (probably a year) that the community wants 
> to invite you as a committer
> 11. Decide for yourself if you want to remain committed to the project, 
> long-term for another 2 to 4 years
> 12. Accept committer privileges when offered
> 13. Be part of discussions about the development and future of the project
> 14. Mentor other newbies to the project to go through steps 1 through 13.
> This is not the only path to committer. Others may work for companies who 
> already have a stake in the OSS. In these cases, their contribution is already 
> significant and are able to hire and bring up new committers fast.
> Or if you are experienced and have significant contributions right away, you'll 
> get committer access faster when other committers don't want to spend half their 
> day applying your contributions :) .
> But if you are a newbie to OSS, the above 14 steps should be good.

Super! I appreciate all of this very much. I am a newbie and this is
quite useful for me.

> >
> >>>
> >>> (ii) Whether most of the active contributers were recruited to support
> >>> the community after IBM's support? So IBM would decide who is assigned
> >>> to work on Geronimo and how long they would stay in the project?
> >>
> >> This has to do with the start-up syndrome. IBM is committed to the development
> >> of Geronimo, so they invest their people into the project long-term. Other
> >> companies may not have the same level of commitment. And all the other
> >> independent individuals were a part of Geronimo during the initial start-up.
> >> Once Geronimo got off the ground, the hype fizzled.
> >>
> >> Those individuals who are left, and which are not IBM employees like me, still
> >> have employers with some level of interest in using Geronimo for the long-term.
> >>
> > OK,  thanks!
> >
> >>
> >> JIRA is not restricted.
> >>
> > Thanks for confirmation.
> >
> >> Probably two factors.
> >> (1) While Geronimo was still being developed, and working through its growth
> >> super-stability, lots of issues could be reported. And this still is the case
> >> we work from one milestone to the next.
> >> (2) The committers can typically use jira issues to track modification to the
> >> code. Every subversion commit likely has an associated JIRA that documents the
> >> code change.
> >>
> >> So the fluctuation you see is because of continued development being tracked
> >> JIRAs, and an increase in stability of the base code.
> >>
> > Exactly, thanks!
> >
> >> I think it can be said that, for a typical user, if it works, they typically
> >> will not want to spend the effort entering a JIRA to address anything that is
> >> not a show-stopper for them.
> >>
> > Right. By the way, I think up one thing not very related to share. I
> > heard a story about Gnome, they had ever adopted some automatic
> > mechanism(seems like airbag and some plugin) to let users reported bugs
> > more easily, like just clicking the mouse or sth like that when the
> > software was crashing. My point is, if the software works, it's good,
> > but if it doesn't work, maybe we can use some mechanisms to encourage
> > users to report:)
> Someone would need to own this, and champion it to successfulness for it to work 
> in any OSS project.
> >
> >>>
> >>> I also found developers are the majority of issue reporters, not only in
> >>> Geronimo but also in JBoss nowdays. I was wondering, is that because
> >>> JIRA is more for developers now (users are in maillist or forum or smth
> >>> like this)? Or, developers are required to report before jumping into
> >>> fixing/changing code?
> >>
> >> The later. See previous.
> > Thanks.
> >>
> >
> >> I think everyone in the community today has a personal interest in the
> >> advancement of Geronimo that goes beyond their employer. However, Geronimo is
> >> software used by technical people, and we contribute what we do best which is
> >> code and documentation.
> >>
> >> If you know of how to get non-technical people (who may not have a clue what
> >> Geronimo is) involved who can donate their time to improve the community's
> >> general image, increase broader adoption, and increase Geronimo's marketing
> >> efforts, please share.
> >>
> > Definitely. It is not easy to attract more people for software used by
> > technical people. About it, i just have two opinions based on my limited
> > experience and research results:
> >
> > 1) maybe try some institutes in universities, i think. Students need the
> > fantastic techniques and at least they can try to use Geronimo as a
> > platform to build their course projects, like me:)
> >
> > 2), My research results indeed show collaborating with other
> > organizations who have common interests will get an increase on external
> > participants. For example, in JOnAS(, also an open
> > source JavaEE application server, there is a broader collaboration
> > strategy and an increase in external developers. But their problem is
> > how to retain those participants longer.
> >
> > For now, i am not sure if this kind of opinions are useful and they are
> > quite rough. How do u think?
> Discussion is the seed of the plant that will bare fruit.
That's just what i need urgently :P 
> >
> > Anyway, if get chance, i'd like to introduce Geronimo and their people
> > to everybody i meet:)
> You will make Geronimo a better software project just by doing that alone.
> Thanks.
OK. Thanks again for all your help and time! 

Best wishes,


> >
> >> Thanks for your interest.
> >> -RG
> >>
> > Thanks again! I appreciate your help very much:)
> >
> > Xiujuan.
> >

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