At ApacheCon I had a number of great discussions
with people from all over the ASF. One
of the many topics of discussion
was around the organization of the ASF. I'm going to try
summarize the organization discussion below.
It seems that there are 2 major
1. The ASF has a legal responsibility for oversight
of the ASF projects. In order to provide
some degree of legal protection for
committers, the ASF needs to demonstrate that
it is providing effective oversight of the
projects. Ultimately, this
responsibility rests with the
ASF board and is currently implemented via
PMCs. However, within the ASF there is wide
variation in the implementation of the PMC
concept. In httpd there is a PMC for a
base and most of the committers are a part of the
PMC. Contrast that with XML and Jakarta
where there is a single
(umbrella/container) PMC for many code bases, and a tiny fraction of
the committers are a part of the PMC. There has been a movement in the ASF to move
projects out from under the umbrella PMC's and have
them be their own projects. Some people
believe that this will improve the board's
visibility into the projects, others believe that this will
create an unmanageable amount of work for the
2. The ASF is currently membership-based,
non-profit corporation. The legal liability protections
of the corporation
apply to the members. In the event of a legal action against one of the
the ASF would attempt to defend the committer, but
the automatic liability protection of
the corpration would not apply. At the
moment the best way to provide protection to
on ASFprojects is via election to membership.
There has been some discussion that the ASF needs
to find a better way to provide legal protection
for all contributors to projects.
So why am I sending this message?
I feel that the level of oversight that is being
provided for the xml.apache.org projects is insufficient.
The ASF does not have the visibility into the
projects that it should have, and the projects are not
getting the help/guidance/whatever that they need
from the ASF. Something needs to be changed.
There are a number of possible solutions -- not all
of them are mutually exclusive:
1. Help any xml.apache.org project that wishes to
become a top-level project to do so. Each
top-level project will then have its own PMC which
will report directly to the ASF board.
2. Expand the xml.apache.org PMC so that every
project has a representative
3. Alter the structure of xml.apache.org to
have an "administrative" PMC that takes care of legal
stuff, and a "technical" PMC that focuses more on
techical issues and oversight.
4. Some option that hasn't been thought of
So, let's have a discussion about how to improve the situation. I'd like to
hear people's opinions on the
options that I presented above, as well as any other suggestions for
Please express your opinions!