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From Russell E Glaue <rgl...@cait.org>
Subject Re: How contributors participate in this community?
Date Mon, 05 Mar 2012 15:18:16 GMT
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 at
>> 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 are
>> committers have ongoing momentum in working towards specific milestones. It is
>> 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.

>
>> 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.

>
>> 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 is
>> 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, and
>> 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.

>
>> 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.

>
>>
>> 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 my
>> 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, for
>> 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 are
>> 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 them
>> 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.


>
>>>
>>> (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 to
>> super-stability, lots of issues could be reported. And this still is the case as
>> 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 in
>> 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(http://jonas.ow2.org/), 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.

>
> 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.

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

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