Jeremias Maerki wrote:
Hmmm. I don't think the PMC needs to get involved. Looking at it from a distance this was primarily a disagreement between two people on technical/design issues that somehow couldn't be resolved. One of the two, Victor Mote, decided to give up because he "would rather go away than to be the guy that everyone wishes would go away" (his words, not my impression). He probably overreacted a bit.
I agree that the PMC does not need to get involved. By extension, then, neither does the Board. The issues were resolved within FOP, and resulted in what I consider a regrettable decision by one committer to leave. There was no peer pressure for this outcome.
Some background: Fact is that the whole FOP team was exchanged during the last two years.
Almost. I've been involved since the beginning of 2001, and a committer for a little over two years now, I think. Joerg, Jeremias and I became committers at the same time, so we had varying degrees of prior involvement.
None of the old committers is still active though one or two are still injecting a comment from time to time. We have a heavy decision to carry on taken over two years ago (freezing the old maintenance branch and doing a redesign of FOP). I guess the committers are only now really getting used to all the code in FOP and getting into a position to really bring on the design.
Then we've got the problem that there are some "strong personalities" among the comitters which doesn't make things easier. Take the mailing list as suboptimal communication platform into the equation and you got the problems together. I myself was pretty close to quitting recently but decided to calm down and to concentrate on investing my very little time still available to FOP in a productive way because I've already invested so much of my free time into FOP that I simply can't let go.
I'd like to hear more about your thinking on this and your later comment about the unhealthiness of the team, probably on the fop-dev list, Jeremias.
I'm not very good in this sort of thing especially since English ist not my primary language and I know that my intentions sometimes don't make it 100% to the other side. I hope I haven't put any more oil into the fire by writing this. If Peter disagrees with my view of the things I'd like him to chime in. For any details I'd like to point to the fop-dev mailing list archive (the whole thing happened around 2003-12-17).
So. Peter and the other PMC members, do you think we should change anything about my report about FOP? I thought, this was important to mention but I don't think this needs any intervention right now as I know that some (or at least one) "high-ranking" Apache people are listening into the conversions over in FOP-land which I'm grateful for. Maybe "infighting" wasn't the best word but I took it as such a few times during the last months. I don't consider the FOP developer community a healthy one, especially compared to others here at the ASF, but I also haven't given up hope. We're all struggling for free time, no big companies backing us up anymore.
Perhaps "infighting over technical/design issues" would be more precise. If you saw it as infighting, it's fair enough to describe it that way.
I'm interested also in the comment about the lack of backing. What backing were we receiving previously?
As to free time, I'm now working outside the industry, on a part-time/casual basis, and I like the situation. Working full-time in IT makes too heavy demands on my concentration to be able to devote the necessary time to FOP, which, as you point out, is extremely demanding. The situation I am in now gives me more time the freedom to do my design and coding the way I want to. That comment has wider application than FOP.
On the positive side, the recent increase in activity includes a lot of cross-fertilization from alt-design to HEAD, which seems to have been received very well by everyone concerned. Perhaps this should be mentioned to balance concerns about Victor's departure.
Peter -- Peter B. West <http://www.powerup.com.au/~pbwest/resume.html>