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From Wade Chandler <>
Subject Re: On Labs identity (Blue Sky thoughts)
Date Wed, 08 Mar 2017 01:54:46 GMT
> On Mar 7, 2017, at 16:26, Alexandre Rafalovitch <> wrote:
> (Just joined due to the Committer list's call to action).

Yes, I must say, I had not noticed the “Labs” link under “Innovation” at the bottom
of the home page before, nor did I know about it. I am curious in success stories (or even
past feedback on it), and too, how is this different than a current project possibly making
a separate repository for something, and then later branching it off into a separate project
at ASF?

> I think the question of Lab's identity is where it fits in the
> _modern_ ecosystem. Its original offering (VM, etc) as mentioned on
> some of the messages in the archive is not sustainable.
> Github/Gitlab is more visible, offers more control and is integrated
> more with additional awesome services, never mind being a
> social-development destination.

Would what you are saying here differ or does it differ from the same concept of repositories
and mirror on GitHub as the rest of Apache? I think GitHub is certainly a perfect place to
host repos, but it seems we do that now with mirroring etc, but we can’t just create repos
there easily.

> VMs are kind of cheap. I am putting a
> lot more than $5/month into my Open Source Project of Choice. Running
> a $5/month VM is just one of those things. And setting up VM with Labs
> is probably as - or more - difficult than doing it on Digital Ocean or
> whatever.

Maybe this is a different topic if we are talking about infrastructure. What infra would be
provided or should be provided by Apache; even Apache Labs? I know there are some things that
can be provided, but my understanding is internally that is fairly limited to some build tools,
and occasionally project specific items such as a system to run a plugin portal or something
specific to a project (negotiated or otherwise). I may be missing something, and will (re-)read
the labs pages.

> So, is Labs then a sub-project level of offering to Apache Committers?
> Something that is smaller than a project but is still somehow
> "Apache"? Again, that does not seem to be enough of an incentive for
> technical reasons.
> What about for the community reasons? Can the identity be reformulated
> (or reinforced) to be a lot more about community than about technical
> offering? In fact, reading the By-laws, I get all warm and fuzzy and
> excited, especially about the last part of the last para:
> "Apache Labs are the place where ASF committers can work on
> innovative, blue-sky and off-the-wall ideas, without having to worry
> about fitting in an existing project bylaw or building a community
> around it, but unlike other external venues that can offer similar
> hosting services, as a place where fellow committers can offer
> suggestions and help.”

To me that suggests the idea is to be lighter than incubator or dev proper, and to then allow
committers a space to play in Apache, and get others involved, and then to possibly move items
to the incubator and beyond, or not even. I like this interpretation a lot. People and committers
can see what we are doing or possibly thinking about doing, and let’s ideas flow without
having to have consensus first, but still has association with the organization.

> So, if _I_ was interpreting these ByLaws, I would sort of focus them
> inwards on a lot more dogfooding _across_ Apache projects with Labs
> being that inner space where different communities can meet. Ideally,
> it would give growth to tiger teams which brings together people from
> different projects who then, as a group, help out other Apache
> projects.
> To take a semi-technical example, it would be great to have somebody
> who has Technical Documentation skills, somebody who is good sysadmin
> and somebody who has good technical/demo building skills and them
> going around multiple Apache projects and helping them to build their
> "hello world" examples that make it easier for the beginners to get
> going. I bet after 3-5 runs through "take a project, build it, make a
> basic dockerized example for it, push the examples and bugs discovered
> back to the community", it will become an easy thing to do well. And
> most communities would love it. And Labs could be the space that sets
> up an infrastructure to help those people do it. Even if that
> infrastructure is not actually running on Apache Infra.

I’m not sure that would be labs per my view point, but it certainly sounds like something
that could be useful in general especially for esoteric or more complex projects, but I guess
if that is what someone wanted to use “labs space” for, it fits the “it’s light, do
what you want to do” model or vision. I see it more of a place where I “want” to do
something, and even if others don’t yet think it “is” or “should” be an Apache project,
I can at least exercise it, and possibly change some minds by way of real code and demonstration.
So, I guess that could be the above too for some people.

> Labs could also be the one with the strong Call to Action. I have
> search expertise for example (Apache Solr). I do a number of
> mini-projects around Solr that are not direct code contribution. I
> would be happy to step into other projects that are downstream from
> Solr and provide my Solr expertise to their committers by reviewing
> their setup or helping to explain to them why they have troubles
> migrating to latest Solr. But they don't really call and if they do
> call, most of the time, you are then expected to find your own path
> from the start to the level of contribution. If there was an umbrella
> of people helping to mentor people already in ASF into helping them to
> cross-contribute to other projects, this could be a lot easier. Labs
> could be one collecting such willing experts and connecting/enabling
> them.
> Could Labs be the place where people with different first language
> hang out and help to translate "Hello World" tutorials into other
> languages, using common infrastructure they don't have to reinvent.
> Discovery of educational resources for open-source projects is
> actually a big issue, giving a centralized space (basically a
> well-referenced blog) is a step in a right direction. Again, this
> could happen spontaneously by just individual efforts, but having a
> coordinated effort in removing all barriers towards that happening
> consistently and in repeated fashion, could encourage contributions.
> We already have, which focuses on less
> technical aspects and on on-boarding (for those who find it, similar
> problem really....). Could Labs be complimentary to that, by focusing
> on technical aspects of building the community and focusing a lot more
> on getting more senior members of community to contribute back in in
> the mentoring ways?

More of the same as what I wrote before for me, but I definitely don’t think the above would
be labs. To me labs should be something like: <>

Which are possibly ways of using technology or showing how to do it or totally concept projects
which are not yet even trying to become proper projects where the cost of entry as a committer
is super low simply because we are committers, and what we do there may even be throw away
code. I wouldn’t choose for labs to be about mentoring etc. To me that isn’t innovation
or experimental, but is more in line with learning the Apache way or something else depending
on where that is going, and to me just seems like “something else” from my point of view,
but that’s just me.


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