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From "Steve Loughran" <>
Subject Re: What am I doing wrong?
Date Wed, 30 Jan 2002 01:56:01 GMT

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Leuschner" <>
To: "Ant Developers List" <>
Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2002 7:22 AM
Subject: RE: What am I doing wrong?

> Hi Stefan,
> it seems the ant team cannot handle the mass of bug fixes and improvements
> made by others willing to contribute to the project. Bugs don't get fixed
> and new features are not added as fast as they could. Ant could be much
> better if there only were more developers, right? But the developers are
> there! They'd love to improve ant, they do it and have to patch ant each
> time there is a new release because their patches are just ignored or are
> put on endless todo lists. Even worse, probably several people fix the
> thing.
> Of course you can't review ten patches a day but I think this is not what
> open source is about. Go ask Eric Raymond or Marc Fleury about their
> on this and see how many commiters there are on the jBoss project and how
> fast it is evolving. I remember a discussion (Thread: Cocoon and Axis)
> this on axis-dev/cocoon-dev some time ago.

Did you notice how a defect in ant last week broke *all* the GUMP builds. we
have to be very risk averse about incorporating changes because of the fact
that so many people out there use it.

That makes us cautious about changes which fiddle with underlying behavior
of existing tasks, especially the ones that have shipped. Even things which
could be viewed as defects -undefined properties remain as ${something},
double $$ is stripped; <exec> and <java> have failonerror=false by default,
get left alone because we dont dare break anything.

At the same time, we do try hard to fix clear defects; those we can
replicate with tests and solve in a good way.

Which leaves feature creep, in the core and in tasks. This is progress, and
it is a good thing, but to avoid breaking the builds *or* introducing more
inconsistencies, then it has to be done with reasonable process, which means
    -code matches existing standards
    -unit tests. we can always have more unit tests, even on existing tasks
    -changes are consistent
What that means is any change, from anyone, has to be rounded off before
incorporation. You can argue that the rules are stricter than they used to
be, and you would be correct, they are. But Ant's success has forced this
situation; and we are getting stricter every month. Now we need consistent
variable names and to get through the weekly audit (sigh). The effective
result is that to pull in some changes -mine or anyone elses, takes a few
hours to be sure that it is not going to break the build that night. And all
everything which gets pulled in becomes the next maintenance problem, if we
are not careful.

Core feature creep is the most controversial, and we are a bit mired down on
how to do this best. There is the 'clean start' vision of ant2, a clean-up
story of ant1.9 and then Costin, the official reference customer, saying
'dont break any builds at all'. This is something we all have to resolve.

How could things be improved?

Personally I think if we can sort out ant's task loading, then we can step
back from the 'all tasks must be in the ant jars' design of today, and make
loading optional jars that much easier. We can dynamically load and register
tasks, but adding new EJB tasks, new conditions and the like do need source
code changes -such as those needed to support Jonas;

I should also put some time aside to pull in some of the recent submissions.
the things I'd look at would be
    -changes to tarfileset to prefix inclusion
    -add the Jonas patch to the ejb task, perhaps while leaving the jonas
code outside the main tree ... I still think it should go into Jonas.
    -Jesse's SourceOffsite tasks. I cant test these though.

> I don't want to start a big discussion, I'm just a daily ant user worrying
> that fixes and improvements are getting lost because nobody commits them.
> Just my two cents (hey, I'm talking about Euro-cents ;-)

I have some dutch guilders somewhere I will swap for them, now that currency
is officially deceased.


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