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Subject: [boost] [library-incubator vs Developer's list] was Ease commenting (Was: [safe_numerics] questioning the basic idea)
From: Robert Ramey (ramey_at_[hidden])
Date: 2014-11-19 11:58:45

John Maddock-3 wrote
>> The current comment system is (I believe) well suited to those C++
>> programmers which do not use the boost dev list.
> True, but it doesn't immediately raise a discussion - a message posted
> here gets seen by quite a few people, hopefully some of whom will be
> motivated to respond.

Damn - I just can't win here!

> One thing I like about comments posted on Gibhub is that they're
> generated as emails direct to the repro owner,

The incubator implements this. Even more, users can select which
libraries they want to follow automatically.

> who can then respond via email rather than by the web interface. But I
> realise that may be hard
> to achieve for the incubator - in an ideal world all comments would be
> reflected here, and replies here would be copied to the incubator. Then
> you keep everyone happy!

Ahhh - keeping everyone happy - the holy grail.

Actually this whole issue of managing these types of discussions is a lot
more complex than
meets the eye. I love seeing the whole indented list as on Nabble. I used
to use
Google Groups but for some reason it wouldn't let me make a public post.
has worked well for me - but I'm not crazy about posting.

Then there is a whole other aspect.

a) Boost (I believe) was conceived as a way to support C++ with expanded
which would eventually enter the standard.
b) It has largely fulfilled that purpose. Making the standard a lot bigger
will make
it every more difficult for vendors to supply a conforming implementation.
So I don't
think the standard library can grow a lot more.
c) But C++ still needs a lot of help. It needs a lot more libraries most of
which are
too special purpose to be suitable for inclusion in the standard. And the
number of
these libraries is large - on the order of 500. This has to be the goal of
Boost 2.0
d) This list can't do this job
  1) 500 libraries would drown this list.
  2) the discussions on the list are extremely useful and should be
preserved in an easily accessible way.
  3) There needs a way to pay for this development - boost has no way to do
  4) This needs a lot more library writers.
       i) But most programmers don't know how to prepare a boost quality
library: code, tests, documentation, etc.
       ii) Most library writer need some hope of compensation to justify the
time spent.
       iii) All libraries need testers, critique, feedback, etc. Boost can
only do that for libraries in review - and we can't review the candidates we
already have. And we don't have a mechanism other than this list for
dealing with this outside of the review. In a nutshell, the developer's
list can't scale the way I think it has to.

The Boost Library Incubator ( is prototype of a system
designed to address all of the above points.

Without making any commitment to any major changes, please post your comment
in the incubator. I'll then have at least one good thread to use as an
example, test, for the commenting mechanism. I'm only asking that we try
this out for this one library - safe numerics. Turns out that this is a
great example. It's simple enough to understand by everyone without spending
a lot of of time. And it raises non-trivial issues worthy of discussion. It
may even provoke submission of a competing solution. This could bode well
for the future of Boost as I see it.

Robert Ramey

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