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Subject: Re: [Boost-users] [boost] [afio] Formal review of Boost.AFIO
From: Robert Ramey (ramey_at_[hidden])
Date: 2015-08-26 11:30:17

On 8/26/15 4:11 AM, Paul A. Bristow wrote:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Boost-users [mailto:boost-users-bounces_at_[hidden]] On Behalf Of Robert Ramey
>> Sent: 25 August 2015 20:20
>> To: boost-users_at_[hidden]
>> Subject: Re: [Boost-users] [boost] [afio] Formal review of Boost.AFIO
>> On 8/25/15 4:37 AM, Paul A. Bristow wrote:

>> Personally, I don't believe that Incubator is the right way to speed > development of this
> software.
>> Hmmm - why not?
> I think it will never take off until 'official'. That is most unreasonable, but a fact of life.

I'm not convinced of this. I think that if something works well and
serves a real need, people will use it and it will eventually be
"co-opted" by "official" institutions. If this isn't happening with the
incubator - it's because it isn't deemed useful enough - at least for
it's original intended purpose. The only real purpose of the "official"
institutions is to give the impression that the process is more orderly
than it actually is.

The incubator get's around 1000 vists / month. It's also surprisingly
easy to maintain - requires hardly any time to keep it running. So I'm
dis-inclined to write it off entirely. Making improvements does consume
a lot of time unfortunately.

So my point of view would be that the incubator needs to evolve or
perhaps change it's stated goal. At that time it was conceived, a huge
concern was the lack of persons willing to be review managers. Lately
this concern has been less in the news. I'm not sure why that is, maybe
it's a coincidence or maybe it has worked in some way that I don't

My original vision was that it would avoid the situation where a library
author thinks he's done and submits a library and it's really not. So
that a huge amount of effort is wasted by library author and reviewers.
  Lately it seems we have more reviewers also so this situation seem
quite so urgent.

Another thing I was that I wanted to preserve the history and commentary
on libraries in a convenient way. To me, a boost library is much more
than a bunch of C++ code. The documentation, discussion, etc. is an
essential part of the package. I feel that much valuable information on
libraries such as rationale for design decisions, reasons for rejection,
etc. .. is "lost". Technically it might not be lost - but it's hard to
dig up on a convenient manner. So I invested effort in a system for
comments/reviews with comments etc modeled on the developer's list.
I've been disappointed that this hasn't taken hold. This aspect needs
some new ideas which haven't occurred to me yet.

>> > I think we need to alter the Boost review and acceptance process.
>> In what way?
> Having two 'status' flags:
> * mature and 'standard' - stable and bug-free (we hope).
> * 'experimental' - usable but still be being improved.
> The C++ Standards people have started to accept the need for 'experimental' status.
> (Of course, the 'status' is really a continuum, not a bool).

Bottom line, I think Boost works because it limits it scope to some
relatively simple rules and passes judgement whether or not various
initiatives meet those rules. It doesn't really DO anything other than
that. In line with this - I think the review process should continue to
confine itself mostly passing judgement on submissions and limit it's
active design/intervention/management/promotion of the library
development itself.

> My main reason is that I believe that people won't use libraries until they are in the release.

That's because people have come to depend on the boost "brand" as sign
of quality. Diluting this brand by "accepting conditionally" or
otherwise promoting libraries which don't meet our standards for quality
and completeness will be counter productiive.
> And without lots of users ("first encounter with the enemy") , you don't find if things are really
> useful or not.
> IMO, too many Boost reviews are by far too few people and with too little real-life use.

Ahhh - on this we agree. I would hope that we could more people to use
libraries which have been submitted before they are actually reviewed
and that these people could be encouraged to make reviews.

I think that the major obstacle is that most libraries that the authors
think are good are just not good enough. Most authors underestimate the
requirements of the "customers" and think that "good code" is enough.
(Besides over-estimating the quality of their code). I did make a
presentation on this subject at Boost Con 2014.

Attendance was an underwhelming 14 attendees. LOL - my life is filled
with disappointments.

Robert Ramey

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