Apache Software Foundation
[S] Subversion

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Community Roles

Committers

Committers in the Subversion project are those folks to whom the right to directly commit changes to our version controlled resources has been granted. The project is meritocratic, which means (among other things) that project governance is handled by those who do the work. There are two types of commit access: full and partial. Full means anywhere in the tree, partial means only in that committer's specific area(s) of expertise. While every contribution is valued regardless of its source, not every person who contributes code to Subversion will earn commit access.

The COMMITTERS file lists all committers, both full and partial, and says the domains for each partial committer.

How full commit access is granted

After someone has successfully contributed a few non-trivial patches, some full committer, usually whoever has reviewed and applied the most patches from that contributor, proposes them for commit access. This proposal is sent only to the other full committers -- the ensuing discussion is private, so that everyone can feel comfortable speaking their minds. Assuming there are no objections, the contributor is granted commit access. The decision is made by consensus; there are no formal rules governing the procedure, though generally if someone strongly objects the access is not offered, or is offered on a provisional basis.

The primary criterion for full commit access is good judgment.

You do not have to be a technical wizard, or demonstrate deep knowledge of the entire codebase, to become a full committer. You just need to know what you don't know. If your patches adhere to the guidelines in this file, adhere to all the usual unquantifiable rules of coding (code should be readable, robust, maintainable, etc.), and respect the Hippocratic Principle of "first, do no harm", then you will probably get commit access pretty quickly. The size, complexity, and quantity of your patches do not matter as much as the degree of care you show in avoiding bugs and minimizing unnecessary impact on the rest of the code. Many full committers are people who have not made major code contributions, but rather lots of small, clean fixes, each of which was an unambiguous improvement to the code. (Of course, this does not mean the project needs a bunch of very trivial patches whose only purpose is to gain commit access; knowing what's worth a patch post and what's not is part of showing good judgement :-) .)

To assist developers in discovering new committers, we record patches and other contributions in a special crediting format, which is then parsed to produce a browser-friendly contribution list, updated nightly. If you're thinking of proposing someone for commit access and want to look over all their changes, that contribution list might be the most convenient place to do it.

How partial commit access is granted

A full committer sponsors the partial committer. Usually this means the full committer has applied several patches to the same area from the proposed partial committer, and realizes things would be easier if the person were just committing directly. Approval is not required from the full committers; it is assumed that sponsors know what they're doing and will watch the partial committer's first few commits to make sure everything's going smoothly.

Patches submitted by a partial committer may be committed by that committer even if they are outside that person's domain. This requires approval (often expressed as a +1 vote) from at least one full committer. In such a case, the approval should be noted in the log message, like so:

   Approved by: lundblad

Any full committer may offer anyone commit access to an experimental branch at any time. It is not necessary that the experimental branch have a high likelihood of being merged to trunk (although that's always a good goal to aim for). It's just as important that the full committer — all the full committers, actually — view such branches as training grounds for new developers, by giving feedback on the commits. The goal of these branches is both to get new code into Subversion and to get new developers into the project. See also the section on lightweight branches, and this mail:

   http://subversion.tigris.org/servlets/ReadMsg?list=dev&msgNo=132746
   From: Karl Fogel <kfogel@red-bean.com>
   To: dev@subversion.tigris.org
   Subject: branch liberalization (was: Elego tree conflicts work)
   Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 10:49:38 -0800
   Message-Id: <87y7cswy4d.fsf@red-bean.com>

The contrib/ area

When a tool is accepted into the contrib/ area, we automatically offer its author partial commit access to maintain the tool there. Any full committer can sponsor this. Usually no discussion or vote is necessary, though if there are objections then the usual decision-making procedures apply (attempt to reach consensus first, then vote among the full committers if consensus cannot be reached).

Code under contrib/ must be open source, but need not have the same license or copyright holder as Subversion itself.

The "obvious fix" rule

Any committer, whether full or partial, may commit fixes for obvious typos, grammar mistakes, and formatting problems wherever they may be — in the web pages, API documentation, code comments, commit messages, etc. We rely on the committer's judgement to determine what is "obvious"; if you're not sure, just ask.

Whenever you invoke the "obvious fix" rule, please say so in the log message of your commit. For example:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
r32135 | stylesen | 2008-07-16 10:04:25 +0200 (Wed, 16 Jul 2008) | 8 lines

Update "check-license.py" so that it can generate license text applicable
to this year.

Obvious fix.

* tools/dev/check-license.py
  (NEW_LICENSE): s/2005/2008/

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Guest committers

Subversion is part of the ASF, and shares the same repository with 100+ other ASF projects. While people who are committers on those projects are not considered either full or partial committers to Subversion, they are welcome to commit obvious fixes, as well as patches they submitted—provided the patches have received a +1 from a full committer (or from a partial committer within his domain). In both cases, please follow our log message guidelines.

Release Manager

The role of the Release Manager in the Subversion project is to handle the process of getting code stabilized, packaged and released to the general public. If we were building planes, the RM would be the guy looking at the construction checklists, painting the airline logo on the fuselage, and delivering the finished unit to the customer.

As such, there is no real development associated with being an RM. All the work you have to do is non-coding: coordinating people, centralizing information, and being the public voice announcing new stable releases. A lot of the tasks that the RM has to do are repetitive, and not automated either because nobody has broken down and written the tools yet, or because the tasks require human validation that makes automation a little superfluous. You can read more about the release process in the section Making Subversion Releases.

You may be thinking at this stage that the RM's duty is unglamorous, and you are kinda right. If you are looking for a position within the project that will bring fame and fortune, you're better off implementing stuff that really needs to be done on trunk. If you're looking for something that really helps people who don't care about releases focus on code, then RMing is for you.

In an effort to encourage wider dispersion of release management knowledge, the RM role is currently rotating among various victims volunteers.

Patch Manager

Subversion usually has a Patch Manager, whose job is to watch the dev@ mailing list and make sure that no patches "slip through the cracks".

This means watching every thread containing "[PATCH]" mails, and taking appropriate action based on the progress of the thread. If the thread resolves on its own (because the patch gets committed, or because there is consensus that the patch doesn't need to be applied, or whatever) then no further action need be taken. But if the thread fades out without any clear decision, then the patch needs to be saved in the issue tracker. This means that a summary of any discussion threads around that patch, and links to relevant mailing list archives, will be added to some issue in the tracker. For a patch which addresses an existing issue tracker item, the patch is saved to that item. Otherwise, a new issue of the correct type — 'DEFECT', 'FEATURE', or 'ENHANCEMENT' (not 'PATCH') — is filed, the patch is saved to that new issue, and the "patch" keyword is recorded on the issue.

The Patch Manager needs a basic technical understanding of Subversion, and the ability to skim a thread and get a rough understanding of whether consensus has been reached, and if so, of what kind. It does not require actual Subversion development experience or commit access. Expertise in using one's mail reading software is optional, but recommended :-).

The current Patch Manager is: Gavin 'Beau' Baumanis <gavin@thespidernet.com>.