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Background: For a variety of reasons, Rakudo continues to target Parrot
monthly releases. This implies that Rakudo developers must periodically
test and develop against the HEAD of Parrot's master branch, to detect
potential breakages before they make it into a monthly Parrot release
that Rakudo expects to build against shortly thereafter. Early
reporting of potential issues, breakages, and performance degradatation
of Parrot HEAD prior to any release is also very beneficial to
Parrot development.
During the May 2011 Parrot Developers Summit the participants agreed
that Parrot will continue to support Rakudo's efforts to target Parrot
monthly releases and be regularly synchronized with Parrot's master branch.
Note that the above agreement does _not_ go so far as to state that
commits to Parrot master can never cause a Rakudo failure. We
recognize that breakages will occasionally occur between Rakudo and
Parrot's HEAD, both within and outside of the scope of Parrot's
deprecation and support policies. Such interim breakages are
completely acceptable as long as there is some confidence by both
development teams that whatever issue is causing the breakage is
likely to be resolved satisfactorily prior to the next Parrot
monthly release.
It is when such resolution seems unlikely that there has been sharp
and contentious debate over the "how, where, who, and when" details of
solving whatever issue may be at hand. This is what the new policy
aims to address.
The policy: Starting May 2011, Parrot and Rakudo will
designate two persons from each team to serve as "relationship
managers" to resolve any issues that arise between the two projects.
These managers are expected to carry sufficient clout or authority
to effect potentially unpopular decisions within their respective
projects (e.g., reverting commits, delaying feature availability,
adjusting development schedules, etc.).
Christoph Otto and Andrew Whitworth have been selected as Parrot's
relationship managers for Rakudo; Rakudo managers for Parrot will
be represented by Moritz Lenz and Patrick Michaud.
In the future, when Rakudo developers feel that discussions about
Parrot on IRC, mailing list, or other channels are unlikely to
resolve a critical breakage or performance issue they are
encountering, the developers should bring the issue to the
attention of one or both of Rakudo's representatives (<person1>
or <person2>). The Rakudo developers involved should also seek
to reduce any pressure they may be applying in the other forums.
(Reducing pressure can be as simple as "I think we may be at an
impasse that needs the guidance of the relationship managers,
let's get them to work on it and we can go have a beer.")
The Rakudo representatives will evaluate any issue brought to
their attention, and they will then bring it to the attention of
the Parrot representatives if they deem it appropriate. At this
point, the representatives from both teams will collectively work
to arrive at a consensus solution that will be acceptable to
both projects (if not to all of the participants). The mechanisms
by which the representatives choose to arrive at their decisions
are entirely up to them.
The above process also holds in reverse for Parrot developers
that feel an issue has become unresolvable via direct discussions
with Rakudo developers.
Note that petitioning or pressuing another project's relationship
managers directly (in their role as relationship manager) is highly
discouraged. Once it's decided that relationship managers need
to be involved, opinions and discussions between the managers will
carry far more weight than those coming across project boundaries.
A relationship manager is free to answer cross-project lobbying
requests from non-managers with "Raise this issue with your
project's relationship managers."
There are two primary motivations for the establishment of
project relationship managers. First, we want to provide a "safety
valve" to relieve heat/pressure and provide a path forward whenever
the normal discussion channels start to appear impossibly deadlocked.
Second, we want a mechanism that ensures that critical decisions
aren't appearing to be made (either explicitly or through inaction)
solely because of the set of participants of any given IRC discussion
or mailing list thread.
Bringing an issue to the attention of a relationship manager does
not mean that the issue will be immediately resolved, nor that
that the issue will ultimately be resolved in exactly the manner
desired by the requestor. What it does mean is that the relationship
managers have committed (1) to thoughtfully investigate and respond
to any issues raised by their counterparts, so that we can all have
some confidence that the issues have been carefully considered from
many sides by people empowered to make changes if needed, and
(2) to work on such issues in a timely manner, so that the overall
disruptions to Parrot's and Rakudo's development are minimized.
We all know that Parrot developers want Rakudo to succeed, and
vice-versa. Nobody is intentionally trying to make things
difficult for others; the projects are just sufficiently complex
that it's impractical for us to completely avoid any surprises
(breakages) in either project. We know surprises will occur; this
new policy will hopefully enable us to collectively handle the inevitable
surprises more productively than we have in the past ("fail softly").
We'll try it and see how it works out; if it doesn't work out,
we'll come up with something else. (Or perhaps well all need to
discuss it with our relationship managers. :-)
Comments and feedback welcomed.
[1] http://irclog.perlgeek.de/parrotsketch/2011-05-14
[2] http://lists.parrot.org/pipermail/parrot-dev/2011-May/005887.html
[3] http://lists.parrot.org/pipermail/parrot-dev/2011-June/005945.html
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