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Reviewing affiliated packages

This document describes the set of review criteria for packages applying to become Astropy-affiliated, and is intended for reviewers.

If you are reading this because you have accepted to review an affiliated package submission, thank you for taking the time to do this!

Note that unlike for a paper where the reviews from the referee are passed on to the authors, one of the coordinators will also review the package and will create a combined report, so the report you write may not be seen by the authors as-is. Reports should be emailed privately back to the coordinator that contacted you.

Reviewing a package involves assessing how well the package does in several areas, which we outline below. As a reviewer it is is expected that you review on these criteria, and it is sufficient to solely use these criteria . However, feel free to bring up any other aspect which you think is important. For the categories below, you can let us know which of the 'traffic light' levels you think the package should be rated as, in addition to providing comments in cases where things aren't perfect.

In general we use the following color-coding, which also determines if a package is accepted after its first review:

Red Affiliated packages can only be accepted into the list if there are no red scores. Existing affiliated packages that have one category that drops down to red don’t get automatically kicked out, but they should resolve this, otherwise the package will be de-listed.
Orange Having orange scores is fine, but is both a warning to the user that not all is perfect about the package, and an incentive for developers to improve and reach green.
Green This is the standard we want all packages to aim for. Packages that have all-green scores may be featured in a separate table for well-maintained and supported packages.

The document also includes monospaced keywords for the categories and levels. These are the keywords and values to be used in the registry.json file that is the canonical source for affiliated package information.

The categories in which we assess the package are the following:

  • Functionality ('functionality')
  • Integration with Astropy ecosystem ('ecointegration')
  • Documentation ('documentation')
  • Testing ('testing')
  • Development status ('devstatus')
  • Python 3 compatibility ('python3')

Functionality ('functionality')

We first need to make sure that the scope of the package is relevant for the affiliated package system. The scopes are:

Out of scope Not useful for astronomers, or specific to one project/collaboration.
Specialized package Useful to astronomers working in a very specific domain/field, or with a specific telescope instrument and usable not just by a single collaboration but any astronomers within that domain. Packages such as sncosmo fall into this category.
Green Package that is useful for astronomers across more than a single field/instrument/telescope. Packages such as astroquery or astroplan fall into this category.

Note that general is not necessary better than specific, it’s just a way to make sure we can present these separately.

Integration with Astropy ecosystem ('ecointegration')

Next up, we need to check how well the package fits in to the existing Astropy ecosystem - does it make use of existing functionality, or does it duplicate it?

Red Does not use Astropy or other affiliated packages anywhere where it should be possible, and/or uses other libraries instead.
Orange Makes an effort to use Astropy or other affiliated packages in places, but still has other places where this could be done but isn’t
Green Uses Astropy or other affiliated packages wherever possible.

Documentation ('documentation')

No code is complete without documentation! Take a look at the documentation (if it exists) and see how the package fares:

Red No documentation or some documentation, but very bare bones/minimal and incomplete or incorrect in a number of places.
Orange Reasonable documentation (which could be a very well written README), installation instructions and at least one usage example, but some parts missing.
Green Extensive documentation, including at least: motivation/scope of package, installation instructions, usage examples, API documentation. In terms of infrastructure, the documentation should be automatically built on readthedocs.org. If appropriate, one or more tutorials should be included in the Astropy tutorials at http://tutorials.astropy.org.

Testing ('testing')

In our terminology, “tests” refer to those that can be run in an automated way, and we do not consider examples that need to be run and/or checked manually to be acceptable as the primary way of satisfying “tests”

Red No tests or tests that are not trivial to run or don’t use a standard testing framework, or low test coverage (no exact threshold for coverage since this is not always easy to measure, but in this category most of the code is not covered).
Orange A reasonable fraction of the code is covered by tests, but still some parts of the code that are missing tests. To be in this category, packages should use a standard framework (pytest, nose, etc.) and be runnable with a single command.
Green Test coverage is very high (for example 90% or more), tests use a standard framework (pytest, nose, etc.) and are easy to run and continuous integration is used to ensure package stability over time.

Test coverage can be tricky to measure, so this will be carefully assessed for each package. The main idea is to determine whether it is low, medium or high compared to what one might realistically achieve.

Development status ('devstatus')

Red No active development/maintainers, even if stable releases exist, if package is not or no longer fully functional.
Heavy Development Stable releases exist, but still under heavy development (so API changes can be frequent).
Functional but unmaintained Stable releases exist and there are no active developers/maintainers but package remains mostly functional.
Functional but low activity Stable releases exist but the maintainers only make occasional comments/commits (and package is not in excellent condition, because otherwise it’s fine to have a completely stable package with little activity if it can be considered 'finished')
Green Package has stable releases, and package is actively developed (as needed). A metric for active development is whether most recently-opened issues have some kind of reply from maintainers.

Python 3 compatibility ('python3')

Red Nothing is 'unacceptable' at this point, but once after 2020 ‘Only compatible with Python 2’ goes from orange to red.
Orange Only compatible with Python 2
Green Compatible with Python 3