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Feature proposal RFCs for Hyperledger Grid
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README.md

Hyperledger Grid RFCs

The grid-rfcs repository contains feature proposal RFCs (requests for comments) for Hyperledger Grid.

This README file describes the process for submitting, reviewing, and approving an RFC for the grid repository. Use the same process to propose changes to the RFC process in this repository.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Many changes, including bug fixes and documentation improvements can be implemented and reviewed via the normal GitHub pull request workflow.

Some changes, though, are "substantial"; we ask that these be put through a bit of a design process and produce a consensus among the Hyperledger Grid community and the Grid root team and relevant subteams.

The "RFC" (request for comments) process is intended to provide a consistent and controlled path for major changes to enter Hyperledger Grid, so that all stakeholders can be confident about how Hyperledger Grid is evolving.

This process is intended to be substantially similar to the Rust RFC process, customized as necessary for use with Hyperledger Grid. The README.md and 0000-template.md files were initially forked from the Rust RFCs repository.

When you need to follow this process

You need to follow this process if you intend to make "substantial" changes to Hyperledger Grid or any of its sub-components, including (but not limited to) hyperledger/grid and the RFC process itself. What constitutes a "substantial" change is evolving based on community norms and varies depending on what part of the ecosystem you are proposing to change, but may include the following:

  • Architectural changes
  • Substantial changes to component interfaces
  • New features
  • Backward-incompatible changes
  • Changes that affect the security of communications or administration

Some changes do not require an RFC:

  • Rephrasing, reorganizing, refactoring, or otherwise "changing shape that does not change meaning".
  • Additions that strictly improve objective, numerical quality criteria (warning removal, speedup, better platform coverage, more parallelism, trap more errors, etc.)

If you submit a pull request to implement a new feature without going through the RFC process, it may be closed with a polite request to submit an RFC first.

Subteam-specific guidelines

The Grid root team can choose to handle an RFC or delegate it to a subteam. To propose creating a new subteam, create an RFC for the grid-rfcs repository. The Grid root team must approve the RFC. After the RFC is approved and merged, a subteam/{name}.md file will list the subteam members and a link to the subteam will be added to this section.

Before creating an RFC

A hastily proposed RFC can hurt its chances of acceptance. Low quality proposals, proposals for previously-rejected changes, and those that don't fit into the near-term roadmap may be quickly rejected, which can be demotivating for the unprepared contributor. Laying some groundwork ahead of the RFC can make the process smoother.

Although there is no single way to prepare for submitting an RFC, it is generally a good idea to pursue feedback from other project developers beforehand, to ascertain that the RFC may be desirable; having a consistent impact on the project requires concerted effort toward consensus-building.

The most common preparations for writing and submitting an RFC include talking the idea over on the Grid developer discussion forum, #grid, and proposing ideas to the Hyperledger Grid mailing list.

As a rule of thumb, receiving encouraging feedback from long-standing project developers, particularly maintainers or members of the relevant team, is a good indication that the RFC is worth pursuing.

What the process is

In short, to get a major feature added to Hyperledger Grid, you must start by adding an RFC in markdown format as a pull request for this repository. The RFC is discussed and changed as necessary. When approved, the RFC is merged into the RFC repository. At that point, the RFC is "active" and may be implemented with the goal of eventually adding the new feature to Hyperledger Grid.

  • Fork the grid-rfcs repository.
  • Copy 0000-template.md to text/0000-my-feature.md (where "my-feature" is descriptive). Don't assign an RFC number yet (leave 0000 in the name).
  • If the RFC has supporting images or diagram files, also create a folder called 0000-my-feature and put them there.
  • Fill in the RFC. Put care into the details: RFCs that do not present convincing motivation, do not demonstrate understanding of the impact of the design, or are disingenuous about the drawbacks or alternatives tend to be poorly received.
  • Submit a pull request. As a pull request, the RFC will receive design feedback from the larger community, and the author should be prepared to revise it in response.
  • Build consensus and integrate feedback. RFCs that have broad support are much more likely to make progress than those that don't receive any comments. Feel free to reach out to the RFC assignee in particular to get help identifying stakeholders and obstacles.
  • The root team or relevant subteam will discuss the RFC pull request, as much as possible, in the comment thread of the pull request itself. Offline discussion will be summarized on the pull request comment thread.
  • RFCs rarely go through this process unchanged, especially as alternatives and drawbacks are shown. You can make edits, big and small, to the RFC to clarify or change the design, but make changes as new commits to the pull request and leave a comment on the pull request explaining your changes. Specifically, do not squash or rebase commits after they are visible on the pull request.
  • At some point, a member of the team will propose a "motion for final comment period" (FCP), along with a disposition for the RFC (merge, close, or postpone).
    • This step is taken when enough of the tradeoffs have been discussed that the team is in a position to make a decision. That does not require consensus amongst all participants in the RFC thread (which is usually impossible). However, the argument supporting the disposition on the RFC needs to have already been clearly articulated, and there should not be a strong consensus against that position outside of the team. Team members use their best judgment in taking this step, and the FCP itself ensures there is ample time and notification for stakeholders to push back if it is made prematurely.
    • For RFCs with lengthy discussion, the motion to FCP is usually preceded by a summary comment trying to lay out the current state of the discussion and major trade-offs/points of disagreement.
    • Before actually entering FCP, all members of the team must sign off; this is often the point at which some team members first review the RFC in full depth.
  • The FCP lasts one week, or seven calendar days. It is also advertised widely (e.g., in the Hyperledger Grid mailing list). This way, all stakeholders have a chance to lodge any final objections before a decision is reached.
  • In most cases, the FCP period is quiet, and the RFC is either merged or closed. However, sometimes substantial new arguments or ideas are raised, the FCP is canceled, and the RFC goes back into development mode.

The RFC life cycle

Once an RFC becomes "active", then authors may implement it and submit the change as a pull request to the appropriate Hyperledger Grid repo. Being "active" is not a rubber stamp and, in particular, still does not mean the change will ultimately be merged; it does mean that, in principle, all the major stakeholders have agreed to the change and are amenable to merging it.

Furthermore, the fact that a given RFC has been accepted and is "active" implies nothing about what priority is assigned to its implementation, nor does it imply anything about whether a Hyperledger Grid developer has been assigned the task of implementing the feature. While it is not necessary that the author of the RFC also write the implementation, it is by far the most effective way to see an RFC through to completion: authors should not expect that other project developers will take on responsibility for implementing their accepted feature.

Modifications to "active" RFCs can be done in follow-up pull requests. We strive to write each RFC in a manner that it will reflect the final design of the feature; but the nature of the process means that we cannot expect every merged RFC to actually reflect what the end result will be at the time of the next major release.

In general, once accepted, an RFC should not be substantially changed. Only very minor changes should be submitted as amendments. More substantial changes should be new RFCs, with a note added to the original RFC. Exactly what counts as a "very minor change" is up to the root team or subteam to decide; check Subteam-specific guidelines for more details.

Reviewing RFCs

While the RFC pull request is up, the root team or subteam may schedule meetings with the author and/or relevant stakeholders to discuss the issues in greater detail; in some cases, the topic may be discussed at a team meeting. In either case, a summary from the meeting will be posted back to the RFC pull request.

The team makes final decisions about RFCs after the benefits and drawbacks are well understood. These decisions can be made at any time, but the team will regularly issue decisions. When a decision is made, the RFC pull request will either be merged or closed. In either case, if the reasoning is not clear from the discussion in thread, the team will add a comment describing the rationale for the decision.

Implementing an RFC

Some accepted RFCs represent vital changes that need to be implemented right away. Other accepted RFCs can represent changes that can wait until some arbitrary developer feels like doing the work. Every accepted RFC has an associated issue tracking its implementation in the Hyperledger Grid JIRA issue tracker; thus, that associated issue can be assigned a priority via the triage process that the team uses for all issues related to Hyperledger Grid.

The author of an RFC is not obligated to implement it. Of course, the RFC author (like any other developer) is welcome to post an implementation for review after the RFC has been accepted.

If you are interested in working on the implementation for an "active" RFC, but cannot determine if someone else is already working on it, feel free to ask (for example, by leaving a comment on the associated issue).

Help! This is all too informal!

The process is intended to be as lightweight as reasonable for the present circumstances. As usual, we are trying to let the process be driven by consensus and community norms, not impose more structure than necessary.

License

This repository is licensed under Apache License, Version 2.0 (http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0).

Contributions

Unless you explicitly state otherwise, any contribution intentionally submitted for inclusion in the work by you, as defined in the Apache-2.0 license, shall be licensed as above, without any additional terms or conditions.

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