[webkit-dev] What is an "active port"? [WAS: Do you maintain OS(WINCE)?]

Ryosuke Niwa rniwa at webkit.org
Wed Sep 14 13:08:43 PDT 2011

To mitigate this issue, Leandro (acidx) and I are working on change log
parser that can automatically detect active patch contributors and
reviewers. (See https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=68061).

Having said that, I think contributors should help maintaining ports that
have bots on build.webkit.org or EWS bots.

- Ryosuke

On Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 12:08 PM, Geoffrey Garen <ggaren at apple.com> wrote:

> In my effort to establish the "threads exist" baseline abstraction, I've
> gotten a few responses similar to this one: "I maintain port X, but I'm the
> only one, and I have limited time…".
> Here are my current thoughts, based on that experience:
> * A long list of #ifdefs in core WebKit code makes reading and
> understanding the code difficult, especially if the #ifdefs select among a
> matrix of fundamentally different ways of doings things.
> * A long tail of ports makes fundamental improvements to the engine
> difficult and time consuming. Fundamental improvements are likely to break a
> port, and port maintainers may not be available in a timely fashion to adopt
> a fundamental improvement. (For example, it has been about a week since I
> started the "threads exist" project.)
> * We have a significant number of ports (maybe 5) that are either (a)
> maintained by only one person working part-time or (b) not maintained at all
> in WebKit trunk, but periodically upstreamed to WebKit trunk by downstream
> clients to make their future merges easier.
> * Single-part-time-maintainer ports seem to keep up at a reasonable pace
> with simple build fixes like adding new files to projects, but not with
> major architectural changes.
> * Single-part-time-maintainer ports get very little, if any, testing
> outside of automated regression tests, so it's hard to know if the code
> actually works, who uses it, or what its requirements are.
> When I ask if a port is "active", I guess what I mean is, "Can I go ahead
> and make this core WebKit improvement, and assume that port maintainers will
> keep up, or do I need to stop what I'm doing and wait for them, or worry
> that they will roll out some or all of my patch instead of doing the harder
> work of upgrading their port?" I also mean, "Is this port actively used, and
> is the opportunity cost of upgrading it justified?"
> I think the right solution here is for port maintainers, in cases of
> nontrivial work, to take on the job of upgrading their ports to match core
> engine changes, instead of core engineers taking on that job. And, in cases
> where a port upgrade isn't available in a timely fashion for some reason,
> WebKit should move forward and break the port (core builder or not). This
> proposal might seem unkind, but I think it's the best thing for moving
> WebKit forward in the long run.
> On Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 2:38 PM, Patrick Gansterer <paroga at paroga.com>
> wrote:
>  So PLEASE: When do we call a port "active"? It's not cool to get the
> question about removal every few months!
> I hope that the plan I've outlined above will make "active" ports much more
> well-known to core WebKit contributors, since port maintainers will be
> working with core contributors to upgrade their ports.
> Regards,
> Geoff
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