Involving people in Open Source development
A few weeks ago at our Launchpad BuildFromBranch sprint, I gave a brief overview of the process I use when doing a significant design change – whether it’s a code architecture or UI design (hint: don’t try to do a presentation after flying for 26 hours with two kids).
The main point that I was keen to communicate is how important it is to involve people and get early feedback. Launchpad bugs provide a great way to invite this involvement too, as you’ve already got many of the interested people already subscribed, and if you add information early other people – such as the person who created the bug – have an opportunity to clarify and contribute to the design or solution.
As a result of our sprint, we’re now focusing on how we can provide the best user experience for automating the process of building code into installable packages that will be updated on peoples machines the next day. In particular, we want to enable easy setup of daily builds for projects, allowing people who like to live on the edge and contribute QA time to their favourite open-source projects (building on the excellent work of bzr-builder).
To encourage involvement in this process, I’m trying a combination of relevant email lists for discussion, phone calls where helpful, and a wiki page that I try to keep up-to-date with the current status of those discussions. The aim being that anyone can read the wiki page and, in addition to seeing the current UI mockups, can see all the significant questions that have been brought up already. We’ll see how it goes…