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From Jun Rao <jun...@gmail.com>
Subject concerns about high overhead in Apache incubator releases
Date Sun, 27 Nov 2011 19:13:02 GMT
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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