Observations and personal conclusions on the KDE release process since 4.0

Sebastian Kügler sebas at kde.org
Thu Jul 1 14:34:58 CEST 2010


On Thursday 01 July 2010 02:37:30 Maciej Mrozowski wrote:
> On Wednesday 30 of June 2010 20:23:18 Simon Edwards wrote:
> > The main issues for this cycle, IMHO, have been:
> > 
> > * branches - Things being branched off earlier than expected, or work
> > branches being merged later in the process make it harder to keep track
> > of what exactly is going to be in 4.5.
> My thoughts exactly. But it's not only that.
> Why do you guys branch off before minor release? (4.x.0).  Time between rc1
> and release is important as important fixes usually are commited in this
> period. And while trunk and recently branched off code doesn't really
> differ much, 

That's an incorrect assumption actually. As soon as you re-open trunk, people 
start committing larger patches (makes complete sense, it's the beginning of a 
development cycle, meaning plenty of time to test and stabilize these 
features). Also, as Aaron points out often UI changes that have been held back 
go in.

> any fixes *have* *to* be applied to both branches, otherwise
> trunk will be affected again. And while back/forward porting fixes is
> troublesome I suppose some fixed simply don't make it to both branches
> (forgotten, people being unaware of the need to fix both branches etc).
> Branching off relatively late (maybe even after minor release, not tagging,
> just in any case) would also (hopefully) mean a little shift towards
> "maintenance" from "new features" seemingly forcing developers to focus on
> polishing not-yet-released version instead of "working in trunk".
> (which I believe may upset many developers and they'll choose to work in
> playground/local branches nevertheless).

Freezes come at a cost, because they force developers to hold back on their 
work, to share it later. We need to find a good balance between "frozen, only 
critical fixes (which ist what the RC period is for), and ongoing development.

As to the bindings problems you've talked about, I think this cycle's API 
freezes (which we introduced exactly to tackle that problem) seemed to work 
quite well. Of course we can only tell once 4.5.0 has working bindings out of 
the box without Dirk going out of the way or calling Simon in to fix last-
minute problems). We've introduced a freeze for dependencies as well, so let's 
see how this goes.

Wulf, thanks for your analysis by the way. I think it's critical to look at 
our own processes this way. I do think, however, that we're quite aware of at 
least some of the problems, and we're well underway improving on it.


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