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TensorFlow Request for Comments (TF-RFC)

The purpose of a TensorFlow RFC is to engage the TensorFlow community in development, by getting feedback from stakeholders and experts, and communicating design changes broadly.

Who is involved?

Any community member may help by providing feedback on whether the RFC will meet their needs.

An RFC author is one or more community member who writes an RFC and is committed to championing it through the process.

An RFC sponsor is any maintainer who sponsors the RFC and will shepherd it through the RFC review process.

A review committee is a group of maintainers who have the responsibility of recommending the adoption of the RFC.

What is a TensorFlow RFC?

An RFC is a document that describes a requirement and the proposed changes that will solve it. Specifically, the RFC will:

  • be formatted according to the RFC template
  • be submitted as a pull request to the community/rfcs directory
  • be subject to discussion and a review meeting prior to acceptance

RFC process

Before submitting an RFC, it is a good idea to discuss your aims with project contributors and maintainers and get early feedback. Use the developer mailing list for the project concerned (developers@tensorflow.org, or the list for the relevant SIG). After writing the RFC draft, get feedback from these experts before submitting it.

  1. Recruit a sponsor from the maintainers of the project which your RFC concerns.

    Identify them in the RFC, before posting the PR in step 2. If no sponsor is found you may still post the RFC, but if within a month of posting the PR there is still no sponsor, it will be closed.

  2. Submit your RFC as a pull request to community/rfcs.

    Name your RFC file using the template YYYYMMDD-descriptive-name.md, where YYYYMMDD is the date of submission, and ‘descriptive-name’ relates to the title of your RFC. For instance, if your RFC is titled “Parallel Widgets API”, you might use the filename 20180531-parallel-widgets.md. If you have images or other auxiliary files, create a directory of the form YYYYMMDD-descriptive-name in which to store those files.

    Include the header table and the contents of the Objective section in the comment of your pull request, using Markdown. For an example, please see this example RFC. Include a mention of any of the GitHub handles of co-authors, reviewers, and sponsors.

    At the top of the PR identify how long the comment period will be. This should be a minimum of two weeks from posting the PR.

  3. Email the developer mailing list with a brief description, and a link to the PR and a request for review. Follow the example of previous mailings, as you can see in this example.

  4. The sponsor will request a review committee meeting, no sooner than two weeks after the RFC PR is posted. If discussion is lively, wait until it has settled before going to review. The goal of the review meeting is to resolve minor issues; consensus should be reached on major issues beforehand.

  5. The meeting may approve the RFC, reject it, or require changes before it can be considered again. Approved RFCs will be merged into community/rfcs, and rejected RFCs will have their PRs closed.

  6. Implementations of a successful RFC should reference it in their documentation, and work with the sponsor to successfully land the code.

While implementation code is not necessary to start the RFC process, its existence in full or part may help the design discussion.

If in any doubt about this process, feel free to ask on the developers mailing list or file an issue in tensorflow/community.

Community members

As the purpose of RFCs is to ensure the community is well represented and served by new changes to TensorFlow, it is the responsibility of community members to participate in reviewing RFCs where they have an interest in the outcome.

Community members should:

  • provide feedback as soon as possible to allow adequate time for consideration
  • read RFCs thoroughly before providing feedback
  • be civil and constructive

Review committees

The constitution of a review committee may change according to the particular governance style and leadership of each project. For core TensorFlow, the committee will exist of contributors to the TensorFlow project, who have expertise in the domain area concerned.

Review committees must:

  • ensure that substantive items of public feedback have been accounted for
  • add their meeting notes as comments to the PR
  • provide reasons for their decisions

If a review committee requires changes before acceptance, it is the responsibility of the sponsor to ensure these are made and seek subsequent approval from the committee members.

RFC sponsors

A sponsor is a project maintainer responsible for ensuring the best possible outcome of the RFC process. In particular this includes:

  • advocating for the proposed design
  • guiding the RFC to adhere to existing design and style conventions
  • guiding the review committee to come to a productive consensus
  • if the RFC moves to implementation:
    • ensuring proposed implementation adheres to the design
    • liaison with appropriate parties to successfully land implementation

Keeping the bar high

While we encourage and celebrate every contributor, the bar for RFC acceptance should be kept intentionally high. A design may be rejected or need significant revision at any one of these stages:

  • initial design conversations on the relevant mailing list
  • failure to recruit a sponsor
  • critical objections during the feedback phase
  • failure to achieve consensus during the design review
  • concerns raised during implementation (e.g., inability to achieve backwards compatibility, concerns about maintenance appearing once a partial implementation is available)

If this process is functioning well, RFCs are expected to fail in the earlier, rather than later, stages.

An approved RFC is no guarantee of a commitment to implement, and acceptance of a proposed RFC implementation is still subject to the usual code review process.

RFC Template

Use the template from GitHub, being sure to follow the naming conventions described above.