[SciPy-dev] The future of SciPy and its development infrastructure

Bruce Southey bsouthey@gmail....
Mon Feb 23 14:17:33 CST 2009

You may find the following PEP useful in discussing the first proposed 

Python PEP 0374 "Migrating from svn to a distributed VCS".


Stéfan van der Walt wrote:
> *[If you only have 30 seconds to read this email, read the **bold text 
> only]*
> *Dear* SciPy *developer*s
> The past while has seen a rocky ride with the SciPy servers, but 
> yesterday Peter Wang announced that he is attending to the situation. 
>  This, then, seems like the perfect time to *stand back and take a 
> look at our infrastructure*, and whether we should continue with the 
> current setup.
> To put this conversation into context, we have to face the facts: 
> SciPy has a large user community relative to the number of 
> developers.  A big library of code, used by many scientists, is 
> supported by a small handful of people all over the world.  *We cannot 
> afford* *a high barrier to contribution*, and we have to lower the 
> effort it takes for a developer to merge contributed code.
> *I'd like to propose two changes* to the status quo:
> 1. *Change to a distributed revision control system*, encouraging more 
> open collaboration.
> 2. *Determine guidelines for code acceptance*, in terms of unit tests, 
> documentation and peer review.
> Allow me to motivate these changes, and then suggest practical 
> approaches for their implementation:
> Subversion allows only a selected group of developers to change the 
> SciPy source code.  This does not encourage a culture of meritocracy, 
> but worse, has practical implications, in that users cannot merge 
> their own patches.  I won't discuss the advantages of distributed 
> revision control here, but note that it shifts responsibility from the 
> current core developers to contributers; *that benefits us all!*
> This ties in with my second point: code review.  The current 
> developers have access to SVN because they are experienced programmers 
> with knowledge of SciPy's scientific domains of application.  We are 
> unable to employ this scarce resource fully, because it simply takes 
> too long to merge a patch from Trac, review it, *bring it up to 
> scratch*, and commit it.  *We have to put a system in place which 
> allows contributers to take responsibility for their own patches, and 
> for core developers to guide and advise during this process.*  As it 
> is, we have many patches waiting on Trac for up to a year or more 
> without any feedback; that is not acceptable.
> My view on testing is simple: *untested code is probably broken code* 
> (and I can show examples from the past year's commit logs to 
> corroborate this statement).  *As for documentation, we cannot afford 
> to be without it.
> *
> Implementation:
> Enthought generously hosts SciPy, and I hope they will continue doing 
> so.  New software will need to be installed on the server, but we have 
> many hands willing to tackle that task: David Cournapeau and myself 
> included.  Before deploying to scipy.org <http://scipy.org>, *we will 
> configure a *different* server as a proof of concept.*
> 1) *Distributed revision control system: David Cournapeau and myself 
> have been test driving Git [1] on SciPy and NumPy for a while.  It is 
> fast, well supported, has great branch support, and is simple to use 
> for the average contributor, while allowing powerful patch-carving for 
> the more adventurous.*
> 2) *Ticketing back-end:* David is exploring RedMine [2], and I'd like 
> to take a look at InDefero [3], but *we'll do a careful analysis* of 
> trac-git (like FedoraHosted) too.
> Thank you for taking the time to deliberate on SciPy's future.  I 
> would love to hear your comments.
> Kind regards
> Stéfan
> [1] http://git.or.cz/course/svn.html
> [2] http://www.redmine.org/
> [3] http://scipy.indefero.net/p/numpy/
> [4] http://fedorahosted.org
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