Open Source Love Day December 2009

Our Open Source Love Day for November 2009 brought love for EGit and several hudson plugins. We got slightly frustrated over KDevelop4.

On Tuesday, we had our last regular working day for 2009. We celebrated this circumstance by having our fourth Open Source Love Day (OSLD). The day was successful, you can review our list of today’s achievements below.

We introduced a monthly Open Source Love Day to show our appreciation to the Open Source software ecosystem and to donate back We heavily rely on Open Source software for our projects. We would be honored if you find our contributions useful. Check out our first OSLD blog posting for details on the event itself.

Participate at our OSLD by using the features we’ve built today:

  • Our campfire plugin for hudson was updated to version 1.1. The new version contains the improvements Mark Woods suggested (global configuration and login recovery). Thank you, Mark!
  • The campfire plugin also switched the communication model from webpage scraping to the brand new campfire API. This should improve the stability of the plugin.
  • Some of the EGit (git plugin for eclipse) patches we sent in at the last OSLD needed some rework and polishing. You can review the details in EGit’s code review system gerrit: change 121 and change 122.
  • Our cmake hudson plugin was updated to version 1.1. The new version checks the environment (installed cmake version, etc.) before delegating the call and provides better error messages.
  • We started working on a feature of KDevelop4 that was present in KDevelop3 and is now missing: “Compile file”. The progress was slowed down by some problems. See below for details.
  • Hudson got a new major version of the IRC plugin from Christoph Kutzinksi. The plugin was in a rather desolate state before. We had used a private fork with specific additions to control our infrastructure. The plugin was on our list of OSLD patients, when Christoph merged it with the hudson instant-messaging plugin and introduced a multitude of cool new features. We beta-tested the new version and it was great. The only drawback was the complete alteration in message syntax that broke our infrastructure. So in order to scratch our own itch, we programmed a little API to parse hudson IRC plugin messages of the new 2.X version stream. Our code is published on github, have a look if you are interested and drop us a line if you found it useful.

What were our lessons learnt today?

  • If maven decides to work properly, everything is really cool.
  • Just because you use JGit/EGit on top of Eclipse, all three being platform independent, doesn’t save you from slash vs. backslash issues. EGit’s initial user experience is better on unixoid platforms than on windows systems. The patch #141 helped us beyond the showstopper of unrecognized local repositories.
  • We acquired an additional share of eclipse plugin development knowledge when polishing our EGit features.
  • Working with git and gerrit is challenging on first encounter. We are constantly learning in this area.
  • Bugzilla fails to present open issues in a manner where you can quickly pick an issue of interest. If you really want to use it for your open source project, think of a scraped website that only lists the “low hanging fruits” for newbie developers.
  • KDevelop4 has outdated documentation, the projects kdevplatform and kdevelop were moved inside the repository.
  • If you encounter a rather erratic error stating that “KDE4Workspace not found”, try excluding the debuggers/gdb subproject from your build.
  • Most of us used the waiting delays of one project (“oh, maven is downloading the internet again”) to switch over to a secondary task. So this event trains our multitasking abilities right along.

In summary, this OSLD was a fun way to end a workyear on heavy duty. We will continue to celebrate OSLDs in 2010, as it’s a fun way to peek into foreign projects, learn a lot in short time and contribute to the community.

Open Source Love Day November 2009

Our Open Source Love Day for November 2009 brought love for EGit, the Eclipse git plugin and some frustration over lacking documentation.

Today, we celebrated our third Open Source Love Day (OSLD). It was slightly degraded by a company-wide illness outbreak, but we tried to make the best out of the situation.

Open Source Love Days are our way to show our appreciation and care to the Open Source software ecosystem. Our work wouldn’t be as fun or just not possible without professional Open Source software. You can read more about our motivation and specifica in our first OSLD blog posting.

You can participate at our OSLD by using the features we’ve built today:

  • We think git is an enrichment to the SCM market, as is Eclipse to the IDE market. Improving the quality of Eclipse’s git plugin is the next logical step. The ability to diff the content of two revisions in EGit was committed today. As a bonus, the name of the committer shows up in the right manner, too. See the screenshots to get the idea:

When developing EGit, we were already using it to pull the sources. Unfortunately, the repository URL changed bigtimes since our checkout without us noticing. This got us into trouble trying to follow the contributor guide. The command line version of git isn’t that communicative yet. But after all, this is a great time to learn about the real world problems when using git. The EGit contributor guide itself is a fantastic way for a project to show initial appreciation to volunteer efforts. Thanks for caring, guys! If you are interested to review our changes yourself, fetch the patch.

  • Another part of today’s work was on the KDevelop project. We tried to fix some outstanding little features or bugs, whatever is on the list of KDevelop 4. But we spent our day fixing our development machines instead. The Ubuntu linux operating system (8.10) was way too old to get useful results and KDE needs to be up-to-date to develop KDevelop. Besides our sluggishness to keep our virtual machines on the bleeding edge, the checkout experience of KDevelop was rather sleek. What bothers us a bit is the ominous entanglement between KDevelop and KDE. It seems you can’t have one without the other and need to master both to make a stand.
  • As a third part, we wanted to contribute to the TANGO project (not the useful icon collection, but the useful control system). They migrated their main repository from CVS to SVN lately, but the migration seems unfinished still. At least, the migration effort lacks public documentation for the occasional contributor. That’s a real showstopper, because you never get beyond the very first step: setting up a working project. We won’t give up and email the project leads on this topic, but it didn’t fit into this OSLD.

What were our lessons learnt today?

  • Just having a possibility to view or download the source code doesn’t make an Open Source project. The key to success is the ability of complete strangers to hop in and perform useful work. Having terse, but accurate documentation helps a lot. The EGit contributor guide is a good example of a single document that makes the difference. If you own an open source project and want to attract occassional contributors (like us), write such a document and watch us (and others) drop you a patch. That said, we come to belief that the person that writes technical documentation for the developers is one of the most important roles on a project. Perhaps we join some projects in the future to fill that role.

To sum it up, this OSLD was limited from the beginning by developer availibility. With lacking documentation, we nearly grinded to a halt. We look forward to our next OSLD in December.

Our second Open Source Love Day (OSLD)

A retrospective report of our second Open Source Love Day (OSLD). We present the results of our work on hudson and git and the lessons learnt.


Today we celebrated our second Open Source Love Day (OSLD). When we say “celebrated”, we actually mean that all of us worked hard and concentrated for hours, just to have a short meeting with candy at the end of the day.

The Open Source Love Day is our way to show our appreciation to the Open Source software development ecosystem. We heavily rely on Open Source products for our customer projects, so it’s just fair to donate back. You can read more about our motivation and specifica in our first OSLD blog posting.

For this day, we adjusted the rules a bit. While Object Calisthenics are very powerful in formulating rather academic software development values in some easy-to-remember rules, they just don’t fit well with existing projects. We still kept the rules in mind, but didn’t follow them strictly. We also learnt our share from last time’s experience of jumping right into the middle of arbitrary projects without a real need to do so. Today, we scratched more of our own itches.

You can participate at our OSLD by using the feature we’ve built today:

  • Hudson gets a brand new plugin. Currently, it’s in alpha status and needs some more nurturing, but is planned to be published within the next few weeks. The proof of concept was successful today. You will read more about it on this blog soon.
  • Another of our hudson plugins, namely the cmake builder plugin, got some feature love, incorporating suggestions from plugin users. We especially thank Ole B. for his feedback. The new features are checked in and will be available with the next plugin version 0.6, scheduled to be published in a few days. You’ll read the details about the new features here.
  • We’ve produced a feature implementation for hudson, adding the ability to use environment variables for the job’s workspace path. This feature touches core hudson functionality, so we just proposed a patch and leave it up to the core hudson team to decide on its inclusion. For more details, head over to the hudson issue tracker, entry #3997.
  • And we didn’t forget about git. As we are multi-IDE users (today’s development took place using NetBeans, IDEA and Eclipse), the EGit eclipse plugin for git will soon have the ability to diff the content of two revisions. An undocumented method argument took too much time to finish the feature today. After email communication with the project owner, the feature works on our machine, but needs some polishing before being committed in the near future.

As you can see, the hudson continuous integration server received a great share of our today’s love. It’s a great tool with a great community that really deserves our contributions.

What were our lessons learnt today?

  • While implementing the variable expansion feature, the author got distracted by a similar concept and followed this red herring. Namely, instead of a hudson.util.VariableResolver, we needed to use the hudson.EnvVars class. The EnvVars are pre-filled with all global variables like JAVA_HOME, while the VariableResolver is not. This could have been avoided by looking at the actual code instead of just type names. Once you think you’ve found your type, you read code the wrong way just to sustain your assumption.
  • To implement advanced plugin features, whether for hudson or eclipse, is a matter of skill with the “monkey see, monkey do” development style. Documentation is mostly non-existent or out-dated.
  • When handling HTML and HTTP in java, some survival tricks are crucial. Stay tuned for a whole blog post on that topic.
  • We still don’t feel comfortable within the JGit source code, as we still lack advanced git feature and terminology knowledge and the project lacks documentation. Our part of the problem will decline over time, as it’s a question of tool/mindset/slang exposure.

To sum it up, this OSLD worked out much better than our first one. We had more fun and yielded better results, mostly because we adjusted our goals to better suit our working style.

What are your experiences with open source development? Drop a comment!