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From Scott_B...@lotus.com
Subject RE: Help wanted: more qualified developers
Date Sat, 31 Mar 2001 03:09:27 GMT

Matthew Brandabur <matthew.brandabur@oracle.com> wrote:
> The subject line of this thread sort of backs me up.

Matthew, sorry, you are right.  Should have been: Help wanted: more
qualified contributers.

Arved Sandstrom <Arved_37@chebucto.ns.ca> wrote:
> I would go so far as to say that _all_ of
> the FOP committers are part-time volunteers. In addition, I think it is
> worth mentioning that all of the committers and probably most (if not
all)
> of the most knowledgeable developers are heavily engaged in real-world
> stuff, and our pace of development is suffering.

There seem to be at least several different types of contributers:

1) Bug fixers -- people who discover defects in the course of using the
product.
2) part-time volunteers.
3) full time contributers who are paid for doing working on the project.

One problem with full time contributers is that they can overwhelm
part-time volunteers, and make them feel like they can't keep track of
mail, code, etc.  But, as Arved said, if you only have part time
contributers, it's hard to maintain the pace of development that we all
want and need.  Also, if a project has several full time contributers in it
paid by XYZ company, another company that may only have one or two
part-time contributers may feel like XYZ company is driving the project
only for their own purposes.  Also, if several paid contributers work in
the same office, they probably talk a lot about design issues in the
hallway (i.e. offline), and get in the habit of exchanging private email (I
know this happens a lot with the Lotus Xalan team).

One thing to think about is how to get companies that are using the
software to contribute a full time contributer or two.  Unfortunately, many
small companies, and quite a few big ones these days, can't afford this.
It would be interesting to consider some sort of co-op type thing where
several companies could pool some funds.  (I'm sure Brian has thought of
this at one time or the other).

"COFFMAN Steven" <SCoffman@COVANSYS.com> wrote:
> Not to be overly obvious, but useful contributions that don't require
> familiarity with large amounts of code are the most common entry of users
> into dev.

Right.  In Xalan we have several extension mechanisms which is a really
good place where developers can write a small code module that can do
really useful things.  We also tried hard to localize the main code
packages, so to debug a problem your knowledge of the whole code base could
be limited.  We only succeeded at this to a point.

I am told that the XercesJ2 people have tried hard to get more open source
developers involved by doing the same thing: sending out a list of things
that people could contribute that would be fairly contained.  My
understanding is that they are pretty frustrated that they have been
unsuccessful.  After everyone got so hot and bothered over how important it
was to refactor the code into XercesJ2, it's pretty sad that they don't
have more contributions from contributers.

All challanging problems.  I hope folks who are using the xml.apache.org
software in commercial products will talk about some of this internally.  I
believe that the only way Open Source projects will have true long range
health is to have a true cooperative between both multiple companies and
individuals.

-scott




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