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John Denker wrote:
> On 07/16/2007 01:10 PM, Stuart Buchanan made a number of excellent points:
>> A far better approach is to look at how we can make our processes
>> more efficient so that the management (of which you are the CEO)  can
>> make better use of their time. I think what is required is more
>> delegation.
> Let me add a couple of minor points:
>  -- Right now the development process is not broken, and is
>   nowhere near chaos, but everyone agrees there is room for
>   improvement.
>  -- The recent trend has been in the wrong direction, which
>   makes it especially timely to examine the issues.
> 2) As a specific constructive suggestion, it seems to me that
> upgrading from CVS to git would make things go smoother.  This
> project outgrew CVS a long time ago.  Git is available for 
>>> But in a context where a volunteer manager is dealing with
>>> volunteer developers, none of whom can devote 40-80 hours a week to the
>>> project, delegation becomes much harder.  Actually, you can't even really
>>> call it delegation. 
> Sure you can.  This is not a new issue.  There are tons of all-volunteer
> open software projects.  There are also boy scouts, girl scouts, garden
> clubs, bowling leagues, sewing clubs, and even .... flying clubs, all 
> with officers who volunteer their time.  Statistics show that such 
> organizations are a significant part of the economy (if you measure 
> things properly).

I agree with the observations and suggestions that John made. I also
agree that the development process isn't really broken, but there is
frustration with the slow pace of releases. FlightGear is not a huge
project, but it is pretty big and faces some interesting challenges.
Because realism is the stated goal, the problem domain often requires
specific knowledge of aeronautical engineering and physics, not to
mention flying experience, as well as coding skills. It's not too common
to find these traits in one person. Also, the "data" assets of
FlightGear are huge and have many contributors who don't consider
themselves developers, even though more and more development work is
happening in the data tree due to the powerful scripting support FG has.
Then there is the scenery, apparently off in its own mysterious world...

Curt, if there was a company willing to pay you or one of its own
employees to be the FG "manager," I suspect that you'd already be able
to identify it. The key here, as John suggested, is not to delegate your
responsibilities to one person but to a group of people. Many free
software projects do well with a "core" of developers that manages a
wider circle of developers who make contributions in specific areas of
the project. The core sets the direction (as much as that is possible)
of the project and decides technical and non-technical issues. Projects
use many methods to reach a consensus, ranging from straight-up voting
to reliance on a benevolent dictator to resolve disputes.

If someone contributes patches that no one in the core or wider circle
of developers feels competent to review, then it's not too much to ask
for references to the subject matter so that everyone can become better
educated. Perhaps the contributor is a good candidate to become a
developer for some section of the code base.

Some projects with which I've been involved use a system of time-boxed
releases. For example, every 2 months a branch is made from the main
source tree and becomes a release, ready or not. Automatic testing helps
with this strategy -- of course it helps in general. One could write
automatic tests for FlightGear using the scripting and scenario support.

Given your load and frustrations, Curt, I urge you to think about a core
 who can share what you do. I bet you already have in mind the
membership of that group.

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