When I finalized the agenda for the Fall Summit this year, I didn’t think there was any way we’d fill up 3 days. Thinking back to last year, we really ran out of things to talk about by noon on the third day. I also figured that it would be a great idea if we had some time to go through the code and work through some of the nitty gritty details with the gang huddled around a laptop. So I decided to set aside Thursday afternoon for that.
Well, at the end if it all, given the number of topics we had to chop out and the number of items where I had to say that we were running behind, we could have spent a whole week. Mind you our brains would have been mush. They were anyway after three days. It was great to see that we have a big development community that knows a lot about the CDT and want to make it even better. It also showed that we need to do this more often, maybe not travel, but find some way to share ideas and debate even virtually.
One of the best items we had, at least for me, was at the very end. I asked the group how we could improve how the CDT is run as a software project. The answer I got back was that we need to work hard on ensuring we have quality releases. In the past, we’ve been very accommodating to developers, accepting that they come and go and contribute what they can when they can. But that adhoc approach to project management isn’t leading to high quality releases, especially at the x.x.0 releases. The team showed a strong desire to, well, be “managed” as a software development team, much like they are when working on their own commercial projects.
So that is now my number one challenge. We need to tighten down the processes, be more strict on quality, and start putting together guidelines that we need the developers to follow. We also need to ensure that our test coverage is managed and improved. Manage the CDT much like any software development project. To me the big challenge is that none of these developers have any contractual obligation to follow any of this. And we have developers from over 10 different organizations. This is open source and they are volunteers (or at least their organizations have volunteered them). So it is going to be a bit of a delicate balance to ensure we have the right mechanisms in place and that the developers honor them.
But at the end of the day, I think just having processes and guidelines will give the developers something to follow and they will probably feel naturally obliged to follow. And with the strength of the characters that we have working on the CDT, I’m sure a little peer pressure will help too. I am very excited about moving into this next stage in the maturing of the CDT project. If it all works, maybe I’ll do an MBA thesis on it :).