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Development Process

New development

How new development starts

The discussion of what to resolve will happen on the list or in irc but then get populated in JIRA so that what's up for discussion gets captured. JIRA can ping the list with unresolved issues and as we are discussing the issues I think someone needs to act as secretary and capture the salient ideas in the wiki. So for the dev process stuff I created a document and steward that document to completion. I think the same would go with the integration tests where this is something that Vincent is keen to resolve so he can be the secretary for that issue. So I think the flow becomes:

  • everyone pushes issues they want resolved into JIRA
  • we prioritize a short list to work on in a particular week (or whatever), we can use votes or just decide amongst ourselves

with that short list we:

  • pick the issue at hand
  • burst of discussion on the list
  • secretary captures the salient points
  • offers up the document for review
  • go back to discussion/capture/review until complete
  • a final document then accompanies the resolution and the issue is closed

Things that can be done to make the process easier to track:

  • A filter can be created to send all unresolved issues for a release to the dev list.
  • Might be able to setup custom workflow that can help streamline the process once an issue has been earmarked for a release.
  • Tagging issues with multiple components so that an issue is marked with its real category but can also be marked with a meta category like design or best practices which would allow us to group them in a view and be able to report on them.
  • Find a way to sync all the bits and pieces in jira and confluence so we have a cohesive view of the work that needs to be done and planned for.

One person might start a discussion but it can be picked up by anyone who has the energy/motivation/time/whatever to finish it. I think what happened with the dev process works just fine. The issue was in JIRA with me assigned, but you had time to post some initial thoughts and I tried to follow up with a document. The issue needs a champion but anyone should be able to carry it to completion because all the information should be clearly visible.

Once an issue is in JIRA then any developer with the motivation can run with it.

Where new development starts

All new development, whether new features or general improvements, should be integrated into the latest revision or the trunk. Once a new feature is implemented and integrated into the trunk it can then be decided which branches the new development should be applied to. There may be rare cases where a new development only applies to a particular branch but in general all new features go to the trunk first and disseminated from there. The important thing is that all changes go into the trunk first, then get merged into the release branch as needed, so no changes ever get dropped by mistake. New features or improvements should never originate from a branch.

Changes should be kept in sync at all times where possible and this is the responsbility of the developer. The fix for on JIRA should be set to where it has landed, not where it is targeted, particularly if there is a delay in merging. For example, if a change is committed only to trunk, the issue must either be closed with fix for "2.1", or kept open and commented as "committed to trunk revXXX, branch merge pending" with fix for set to "2.0.x". Ideally, the change is committed to the branch immediately so the issue can be closed with fix for "2.0.x" without the additional comment.

If issues closed on the trunk should go into the branch, the release manager or other developers may choose to reopen them with the new fix for, merge and commit then close on the new target version.


Current release process

  • Declare your intention to do a release through the mailing list
  • Show reports on issues fixed and new features added
  • Identify issues that needs to be fixed prior to the release and those that should be rescheduled
  • All unit and integration tests should pass
  • Use maven-docck-plugin to check for documentation standards compliance
  • Deploy a snapshot for voting reference
  • Call for a vote

Creating a release branch

  • A release branch should be made in advance of the release to allow for stabilzation of the release and the preparation of RCs. This branch should be created at the point that it is agreed that all the new feature development is complete and only bugfix issues are targetted to the branch. A release branch is a long-lived branch from which all the releases for a non-API breaking versions are made. So you would release 2.0, 2.0.1, 2.0.2 of a project from a 2.0.x branch and likewise you would release 2.1, 2.1.1, 2.1.2 from a 2.1.x branch.
  • Make sure that all developers checked in their local modifications before the branch is created.
  • Copy using URLs as everything will occur on the server and be faster.

To create a release branch in preparation for a release use the following command:

svn copy -m "Create Maven 2.0.x branch" \
svn:// \
  • TODO we need to set up multiple CI processes

Working on a release branch

To work on a release branch you can either checkout the branch or switch and existing working copy to the branch. It is probably easier to checkout the branch in a different directory so that you can work on the trunk and branch at the same time.

svn co svn://

Calling a vote for a release

  • A developer posts a message asking the list whether there are any objections to locking down for a release.
  • If agreed, at this point no more issues can be assigned a fix version corresponding to the release.
  • When the count goes to zero the voting for the release starts
  • All external snapshots need to be resolved in advance of calling the vote and creating an RC.
  • The proposal may include scope to release another dependent component, but it is highly recommended that the components be voted on separately and released in advance of the dependee.
  • There should be plenty of opportunity for people to request rescheduling of issues before the vote begins. No rescheduling should be discussed in the vote unless it is exceptional circumstances.
  • An RC is created and is used for people to vote on (see below)
  • The vote must last at least 72 hours to give everyone a chance to give feedback.
  • If there is a regression or other problem with the release, the vote is suspended until it is fixed. Other issues may be brought up during that period. Once those are resolved, the vote starts over (another 72 hours, new RC, new vote thread).

At some point we might even be able to automate this will a little voter app, or use the one we use for board elections. Still visible but much better audit trail.

Creating release candidates (RCs) from a release branch

RCs should be made available in succession until the community is satisfied that the RC in question is of release quality. RCs should be circulated for no less then three days so that we can accurately determine if there are any defects present.
The RC that finally makes the cut as the release should be used as it was originally built so the RCs will be named as if they were the final release. This means that we have a few technical issues to resolve:

  • TODO We need a staging artifact repository where the RCs can be placed so that failed RC attempts don't pollute a release artifact repository
  • TODO We need a reliable way of moving the successful RC from the staging repository to the release repository. This is an intended feature for the Repository Manager but we may need a stop-gap solution until the Repository Manager is ready for production use.
  • TODO We need to ensure that the RC that gets promoted as the release is not rebuilt. At the same time we need to provide a way to identify what version a user is running (be it a RC1, RC2, etc). One solution is to use a build# so that a maven2 version is always made of both a Version a build number. For example you would have "Maven 2.1 Build # 1353" which would be RC1 and then "Maven 2.1 Build # 1450" which would be RC2 which gets promoted as the 2.1 release.

In the interim, we use timestamped builds from CI for distributions, and timestamped snapshots for plugins.

  • TODO When these are resolved, the release should be done with release:prepare/perform instead.
  • TODO We need to figure out the process of how we tag the RCs, probably don't need to keep them. Maybe just roll over the previous one until the RC is good enough to release. One issue with moving the tag is that it will affect the POM, effectively requiring a rebuild. We probably need to prepare as if it were the final one, and recreate the tag if required.

How to integrate bug fixes into an RC

If bugs are found in the RCs, then the fixes should be applied to the trunk and then to the branch as is usually the case. However, this activity needs to be limited to important issues to avoid making the RC less stable and requiring longer testing periods.

Generating an official release

  • TODO: Follow the Apache guidelines, which need to be finalised.

Experimental, complex bug fix, and high-risk change branches

These work like a new trunk. They are created from their intended final destination (trunk for most experimental features, the branch for complex bug fixes). It is the responsibility of the branch creator to merge changes from the original source to the experimental branch as they occur. This may well be at the end of experimental development as one big batch.

As stability is returned, the experimental branch is copied back over the original trunk after confirming all of the changes have been ported to it.

Using svnmerge to manage revisions to merge from the trunk into the release branch

The use of the svnmerge script is optional to help pick off the revisions to merge.

The bottom of this link some example usage of the script

The svnmerge script is a wonderful little tool. In a nutshell, you can take any branch and 'svnmerge init' it against any other branch (or the trunk by default) and then by typing 'svnmerge avail' obtain a list of changesets that are available to merge over from that branch/trunk to your working copy. 'svnmerge merge -rN will merge a particular version over and let you commit it to the branch. Once committed, the svnmerge avail command will no longer list that changeset as available to merge over. This can work either in either a star pattern where each branch can merge changes over from the trunk selectively, or in a chained pattern where branches follow a release process of development->staging->production. In the chained approach checking the available patchs will only give you the changeset available from the source branch allowing for a clean structured code tagging/release process.

You can find the script here:

If you know that a particular revision is already in sync between the trunk and the branch in question then you need to do the following so that the svnmerge script will ignore the revision when compiling a list of candidate revisions:

cd <the-branch>
svn propedit svnmerge-integrated
svn commit

Keep in mind the revisions are revisions on the trunk. So if you started in the branch and merged to the trunk then make sure it's the id of the revision on the trunk!

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