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Subject: Re: [boost] Boost Incubator Status Report
From: Edward Diener (eldiener_at_[hidden])
Date: 2014-11-08 15:53:19

On 11/8/2014 5:45 AM, Rob Stewart wrote:
> On November 7, 2014 5:35:02 PM EST, Edward Diener <eldiener_at_[hidden]> wrote:
>> On 11/7/2014 11:23 AM, Robert Ramey wrote:
>>> Vladimir Prus-3 wrote
>> The motivation behind the
>>> design of the incubator is to "make participation easier" by
>> decoupling the
>>> preparation of the review from a specific 1-2 week time frame. It
>> was also
>>> specifically designed to not alter the actual Boot Review process.
>> Other than lengthening the formal review process to encourage more
>> people to participate I do not see any means to get people more
>> interested in reviewing Boost libraries.
> That is the notion behind the incubator: allow the review period to be open indefinitely, particularly in advance of the formal review period.

Nothing stops anyone from commenting on a library in the Boost review
queue in this mailing list.

>> As far as the incubator is
>> concerned I feel it is a good idea but nobody is using it to comment on
>> libraries.
> Links from the review queue to the incubator page for each library could help people discover the incubator.

I think that is a good idea.

>> As far as Boost reviews it appears that most programmers are
>> afraid to even make comments about a potential library in which they
>> may be interested. Maybe the specter of C++ experts scares them away. Maybe
>> they feel that they might look foolish if they make a comment which is
>> based on just a partial understanding of the library involved.
> What leads you to that conclusion? There are multiple factors that prevent my commenting on a library:
> * No interest in the domain
> * No knowledge of the domain
> * Too busy
> I realize I'm not in the "too afraid because of experts" camp you describe, but I've not commented on any of the libraries and it isn't due to fear.

Not fear during a review as much as not wanting to write something which
may sound "puzzling" or as if the commenter is not an expert. I believe
people should be encouraged to make any technical comment about a
library under review without having to give a full review or make a
personal decision on whether they think a library should be accepted or
not. All technical comments help a review manager determine whether or
not to accept a library under review.

BTW you have commented about libraries under review a number of times so
my remarks about "most programmers are afraid to even make comments"
does not apply to you at all. What I was addressing is that although
Boost has a pretty decent number of C++ programmers who participate at
some point or other on either this mailing list or the Boost users
mailing list, when a review occurs only a very small amount of people
are interested enough to comment in any way. Somehow Boost needs to get
less formal in order to elicit comments from a greater number of people.

>> Finally there is a decided problem with the lack of people willing to
>> be
>> review managers for a library. I think it would be a good idea to
>> establish a pool of people, with their e-mail addresses, willing to be
>> review managers and then when a library is on the review queue one of
>> the review managers would send out e-mail to all people in the pool
>> asking each one if he would be willing to be the review manager for a
>> particular library. If no one at a given time in the pool will agree,
>> then after some pre-established time period the process repeats itself.
> I've offered to be a review manager a couple of times, but the libraries never went to review or another did the job. However, the last I looked there were multiple libraries I don't feel competent to judge.
> Being a review manager is more than verifying that examples compile, that documentation exists, etc. One must be able to judge comments and reviews to decide between opposite views, etc. That requires domain knowledge and experience, if not expertise. There are fewer general purpose libraries on tap now.

I think it is simpler than what you present. No doubt a review manager
should understand what the library is about and what it is actually
accomplishing. But I do not feel it requires an expertise equal or
better than the library implementor itself. It requires more the ability
to weigh the comments of reviewers and determine, based on them, whether
the library is acceptable enough to be a Boost library. A review manager
is like a referee at a debate; it's not his opinion which counts but
which side of the debate has made the best arguments.

> Obviously, folks have more or less time at different periods of their lives, so one can go through periods of no or little participation.
> There's also the real issue of changes to the industry. As one seeks interesting and lucrative or stable employment, one may target new kinds of development which can mean new languages. Thus, one may retain a more nostalgic interest in C++, but no longer be interested to invest the time needed to be a review manager. To solve those problems requires finding and engaging new blood.
> When interviewing C++ developers, I find those using Boost libraries, at least beyond shared_ptr, are rare. The brand is known by relatively few, and it is used, to any significant extent, by fewer still. That implies the need to grow our ranks through some form of advertising.

I have never seen this. Good C++ programmers use Boost libraries when it
saves them work because the libraries are high quality. Bad-mediocre
programmers re-invent the wheel incessantly. There is absolutely nothing
anyone involved with Boost should do to appeal to the bad-mediocre
programmers, and dumbing down libraries is never the answer.

If the C++ programmers you interview only use perhaps shared_ptr it may
be because the area in which they are programming requires nothing else
or, more likely, because they have come from programming shops which do
not promote reusability but re-invent the wheel at every situation.
Having worked for approximately 30 different companies in my career as
largely a computer programming consultant I am well aware of many
programming shops, even within major corporations, who have no clue
about reusability of software. There is absolutely nothing Boost can do
for such places, because the general understanding of program creation
is so low and in the hands of programming managers and their like who do
not understand programming design in any way. I have fought too many
losing battles with companies for which I have consulted, trying to
convince people whose programming talent is low, that using reusable
libraries such as Boost will make it easier to accomplish their goals.
OTOH I have also worked for a number of smart companies which will use
Boost libraries, as well as other reliable, specific programming
libraries which exist, to increase their productivity.

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