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From Chris Douglas <>
Subject Re: concerns about high overhead in Apache incubator releases
Date Mon, 28 Nov 2011 02:01:48 GMT
On Sun, Nov 27, 2011 at 5:33 PM, Joe Schaefer <> wrote:
> I did not see anyone say RTFM, did you?

That's how I read Ross's account of the Rave project (mentor pointed
to the docs, RM read them, monthly releases bloomed). I don't think
that was an ungenerous reading, but characterizing it as RTFM may have
misrepresented its tone.

> Yes it's long and painful prose written by many different authors,
> but simply complaining about it isn't going to get us anywhere. We've
> known about the problems for years now; what we need is for people
> to step up, in a whine-free way, and collaborate with each other.
> Are you game?

Sure, I'll offer to help with drafting. Where is a good place to
coordinate that? -C

> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Chris Douglas <>
>> To:
>> Cc:
>> Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2011 7:46 PM
>> Subject: Re: concerns about high overhead in Apache incubator releases
>> Ross is 100% in identifying mentors as critical to a smooth release.
>> More specifically, mentors familiar with what a project is likely to
>> face in an Incubator vote.
>> I'm sorry to say that I was an AWOL mentor for the first 5 RCs. I
>> still wouldn't have anticipated the objections from the IPMC that- as
>> Jun points out- were true of every release. By way of illustration,
>> take the debate on source releases that spread outside of general@ and
>> into other foundation lists. It took over three days to get a yes/no
>> answer from *anyone*, and while hundreds of words on why the answer
>> could be yes were written, the closest we got to a definitive answer
>> on foundation policy was a link to something Roy said in 2009 on
>> legal-discuss@. And none of that discussion is available to podlings!
>> Even that didn't speak to our question. RC6 contained all the source
>> and unit tests, but it also included artifacts of a successful build.
>> The discussion was focused on minimum requirements, while RC6 was
>> rejected (in part) for including too much.
>> The incubator documentation on releases is over 10k words with at
>> least 80 TODO items. So while I agree that mentors' familiarity with
>> the process is critical to smooth releases, I reject the RTFM
>> suggestion as trolling. Further, it's not policy when objections *not*
>> in the documentation get added and cited ex post facto.
>> In some of these threads, the Incubator is confused with an ASF
>> project. This is incoherent given its size and composition. The
>> Incubator is a curriculum, not a community. And if we're going to
>> continue to use metaphors like "graduation" and "mentor",
>> then the
>> requirements for a release must 1) be stated crisply and succinctly 2)
>> be separated from best practices, no matter how widely practiced and
>> highly regarded some of those procedures may be.
>> As examples from recent release votes: a particular sequence of
>> transformations in subversion for composing a release is not a
>> requirement. Small tarballs are not a requirement. Correctly composing
>> the LICENSE, DISCLAIMER, and NOTICE files are requirements.
>> If I've learned one thing from trying to advise on a release, it's
>> that I know a lot less than I thought I did. I might be an acceptable
>> teaching assistant, but of the 100+ IPMC members, there are only a
>> handful of tenured members who can distinguish lore from canon. I (and
>> others, no doubt) would happily furnish pints to IPMC members who can
>> distill what already exists into a small set of rules, rather than
>> augmenting the existing Leviadocs. -C
>> On Sun, Nov 27, 2011 at 12:09 PM, Ross Gardler
>> <> wrote:
>>>  I sympathize with you're comments, however, I do want to point out that
>> the
>>>  problems are more to do with the Project committers and mentors than the
>>>  process (although documentation can always be improved).
>>>  As evidence I submit the Apache Rave poddling. This project made its first
>>>  release within a couple of months of entering the incubator and has made a
>>>  release every month since (I've not checked the dates, but I think this
>>>  statement is accurate).
>>>  Rave achieved this because Ate Douma (mentor) pointed to the appropriate
>>>  docs. Matt Franklin read and understood the docs and did a release. Ate
>>>  watched and advised throughout the process. The first trekker took a couple
>>>  of cycles to get right. All sidewinder releases have been
>> "simple".
>>>  Please don't think I'm saying there is no value in your mail, there
>> is. We
>>>  can certainly improve in the support we provide. To address your specific
>>>  points:
>>>  1. Your mentors are the example, if they are not guiding you ask if anyone
>>>  here can help.
>>>  2. Different views of different people is difficult to resolve (see Roberts
>>>  recent mail on the same topic). My advice is to understand the (admittedly
>>>  confusing) documentation. If that doesn't help ask on the appropriate
>> list
>>>  (here if you don't know which list)
>>>  3. Clone or best mentors - sorry nothing better to suggest here
>>>  4. Get it right first time (mentors like Ate only let it go to a vote if it
>>>  is ready, so 72 hours is called once only). Also know the rules with
>>>  respect to release voting (see Joe's mail).
>>>  Finally, and most importantly, help us improve the process (as you are
>>>  doing with this mail). Given my responses above is there anything concrete
>>>  you suggest we do to improve things (patches to docs seem like an obvious
>>>  start - most of those docs are written by people who already do Apache
>>>  releases).
>>>  Ross
>>>  Sent from my mobile device, please forgive errors and brevity.
>>>  On Nov 27, 2011 7:13 PM, "Jun Rao" <>
>> wrote:
>>>>  Dear Apache members,
>>>>  Over the past 2 months, the Kafka Apache incubator project has been
>> trying
>>>>  to release its very first version in Apache. After 7 RCs, we are still
>> not
>>>>  done. Part of this is because most of us are new to the Apache release
>>>>  process and are learning things along the way. However, I think Apache
>> can
>>>>  do a better job in the incubating process to make releases much less
>>>>  painful. In the following, I will summarize some of problems that we
>>>>  had experienced. This is not an accusation, nor is it personal. I just
>> hope
>>>>  that we can all learn from our experience so that Kafka and other
>> incubator
>>>>  projects can release more smoothly in the future.
>>>>  1. There is no good example to follow.
>>>>  As a new incubator project, the natural thing for us to do when it
>> comes to
>>>>  releasing our code is to follow what other Apache projects do. However,
>>>>  more than once, the feedback that we got is that those are not good
>>>>  examples to follow. It seems that those "bad" examples are
>> not isolated
>>>>  cases.
>>>>  2. Different Apache members have different interpretations of the same
>>>>  rule.
>>>>  It seems that there is no consensus on some of the basic rules even
>> among
>>>>  Apache members. For example, what constitutes a source distribution and
>>>>  what should be put in the NOTICE file? Since all it takes is one
>> negative
>>>>  vote to block a release, this increases the turnover rate of RCs.
>>>>  3. Not enough constructive and comprehensive suggestions.
>>>>  Some of the issues that are present in Kafka RC7 exist in RC1. Those
>> issues
>>>>  could have been resolved much earlier had there been more constructive
>> and
>>>>  comprehensive feedbacks from early on. Instead, often, the feedback
>> just
>>>>  points out the violation of one or two issues that are enough to block
>> a
>>>>  release. People like Ant Edler have made some constructive suggestions
>> and
>>>>  we really appreciate that. We could use more suggestions like that.
>>>>  4. Not enough flexibility in applying the rules.
>>>>  Some of the rules don't make common sense. For example, if we
>> publish a new
>>>>  RC that simply fixes a few lines in NOTICE/LICENSE. We are still
>> required
>>>>  to go through a full 3-day vote in Kafka and another full 3-day vote in
>>>>  Apache general. This, coupled with the high turnover rate of RCs, can
>> delay
>>>>  the release for a significant long time. Both Chris Douglas and Ant
>> Edler
>>>>  wanted to relax the rule slightly to help us speed things up. However,
>> not
>>>>  every Apache member tolerates such flexibility. Again, all it takes is
>> just
>>>>  one vote to kill a release.
>>>>  To summarize, our experience of releasing in Apache has not been very
>>>>  pleasant so far. I am not sure if our experience is the exception or
>> the
>>>>  norm among incubator projects. In any case, I sincerely hope that at
>> least
>>>>  some of those concerns can be addressed in Apache to make the release
>>>>  process more enjoyable, especially for new comers.
>>>>  Thanks,
>>>>  Jun
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