Commit c4af4267 authored by totten's avatar totten

Merger Intro - Add first draft

parent 199b5921
# Merger Guide
So you've been invited to be a merger. Huzzah! This means that you've been active in the CiviCRM development process
for quite a while -- participating in discussions, preparing patches, reviewing proposals, etc. If you're reading
this, then you probably know 2/3 of the content already -- but the missing bits are hard to predict, and it'd look bad
for all of us if you somehow didn't know this stuff, so let's give it a quick whirl. It should take 5-10 minutes.
## Role of a merger
Mergers are (first and foremost) project-contributors; like all other contributors, we write proposals; we review
proposals; we test things; we give feedback/suggestions; we have topics that interest us (or don't interest us); we
have finite time; and we must take care of ourselves.
The difference is that mergers have an extra level of *access* and *experience*. Accepting this access brings a
responsibility to act as a *facilitator* and as a *final check*.
* *Facilitation*: Other contributors don't have access to merge, so we merge for them. Sometimes, you may meet a
contributor who is extremely experienced and thoughtful. Sometimes, you may meet a new contributor who doesn't know
how the process works or can't anticipate how the patch affects other subsystems. We try to give pointers and
pull-in other folks who can be helpful. In facilitating, we want to encourage a culture that is productive,
technically excellent, and cordial.
* *Final check*: The CiviCRM [Review Standards]( lay out
a number of questions/tasks to consider for each pull-request. You can do these reviews yourself, but it's not
required. Any contributor can review a proposal. Your responsibility is to ensure that *the review* is up-to-snuff.
Some responsibilities are explicitly *omitted* from here. *You're not responsible for every submitted proposal.* By
all means, please help us keep the number of open proposals under control. But, fundamentally, the quantity, quality,
and scope of submitted proposals is determined by third-party submitters and the community as a whole. Take on the
things that you can handle, but leave some time for walking in the park or playing kickball.
## Scope of authority
When we grant rights to a new merger, there are usually some provisions associated. The details are figured on
case-by-case. As an example -- an expert in CiviMail would be given authority to merge patches in `civicrm-core` as
long as they're related to CiviMail. Github may or may not enforce this precisely. We're trusting you to follow this
because, frankly, it's good for everyone. You get a better product if the mergers looking at CiviMail understand the
CiviMail use-cases and codes -- and if the folks looking at Drupal integration understand Drupal use-cases and codes
(and so on).
## Meta-Review
Suppose you're looking at a PR -- you haven't personally reviewed it, but another contributor has. How do you know if
a review is up-to-snuff? This must be based primarily in your own experience/judgment. However, it can be tricky to
decide if you trust someone else's review. Here are a few things to consider:
* On a gut level, if you consider the range of users out there, does the change seem reasonable? Does the review seem
reasonable? How persusasive is the discussion?
* Did they discuss the issues or edge-cases that you would have checked (if you'd been doing the review)?
* Did the review/discussion touch on all the review criteria? For example: a quick-and-easy way to create a regression
is skipping `r-run`. Don't let the reviews skip out on `r-run`. There are some exceptions, but as a new merger you
should be persnickity about only merging after thorough review.
## What if I'm not sure?
Sometimes, you'll look into a proposal (either as reviewer or merger/meta-reviewer) -- but you're just not sure about
it. For example:
* What should you do if a proposal would significantly impact the user's experience/understanding/training (`r-user`)?
Should you push harder to minimize the change -- or embrace it and communicate it? The Review Standard for `r-user` is open-ended.
* What to do if the proposal would significantly impact technical compatibility with APIs/extensions/customizations (`r-tech`)?
The Review Standard for `r-tech` is as open-ended as `r-user`.
* What if the proposal changes the conceptual scope/boundaries of the product?
* What to do if there's a disagreement -- e.g. the proposal forces a trade-off (performance-vs-correctness;
usability-vs-configurability; practicality-vs-perfection) where reasonable people disagree, and no one can figure out
a compromise/resolution?
Of course, you should consult the Gitlab issue. If the concept was pre-approved, there may be some discussion and
notes explaining the pre-approval.
Or... there may not.
The most general approach is to ping a more senior merger (`@colemanw`, `@eileenmcnaughton`, `@totten`) and briefly
describe the situation. These folks have final authority over releases, and they have experience managing tricky
issues/transitions/discussions. They might weigh-in substantively, give process ideas, or refer the question to a
specific person.
Similarly, you can build a consensus on your own -- find a couple other people who know the topic but have no
particular bias/pre-commitment on this question. This is high-risk/high-reward play. Risk: the new participants may
add *more* issues without resolving the old issues. Reward: if the new participants agree, then it can tilt the
balance more clearly.
## Master, RC, and Stable
Each version passes through phases of development/alpha, RC/freeze/beta, and stable/maintenance. As a rule of
* You can accept a PR in `master`... if it passes the general standards.
* You can accept a PR in the current RC/beta branch... if it passes the general standards and fixes a recent regression.
* You can accept a PR in the current stable branch... if it passes the general standards, fixes a recent regression, and is backport.
The stages are discussed in more detail in the primary [](../
## Communication media
Three channels are generally important for anyone who merges:
* `product-maintenance` (public) - Planning/coordination around criticals and regressions
* `dev-post-release` (public) - Special escalation for new problemss that are distinct to the most recent release
* `mergers` (private) - Admin chatter
## History: Upgrades, customizations, 2.x - 5.x eras
CiviCRM began as singular product and grew into a diverse community/ecosystem. This diversity works in
multiple levels.
Firstly, there's the permutations of functionality in the project itself -- Contacts, Activities, Contributions, etc;
Drupal, WordPress, etc; Paypal,, etc; web-UI, CLI, REST, etc.
Secondly, there's the permutations of how CiviCRM users build on the software:
* Run one site -- or run a hundred sites -- or run one site with a hundred subsites.
* Use the unmodified, stock software -- or maintain forks with a dozen patches on top.
* Publish extensions for the general public -- or develop in-house extensions for quirky use-cases.
* Choose among one or two extremely common themes -- or write totally bespoke themes to fine-tune the front-end and/or back-end appearance.
* Specialize in Drupal development or WordPress development -- and maintain deep integrations.
* Specialize in data migration/ETL or mobile apps or Python or NodeJS -- and rely heavily on REST integration.
Our current practices are shaped by experiences in previous eras. Generally, there has been a lot of feedback that
upgrading can be difficult, and the processes have matured in response. I look at this a gradual transition between
three eras:
1. First Era: A large number of developers had direct commit access. Reviews were not done on a patch-by-patch basis,
and patches could accumulate over a period of 3-9 months. Instead, there'd be a subsequent 3 month period of
alpha/beta testing -- followed by another 3-6 month period of post-release stabilization.
2. Second Era: A smaller number of developers had merge rights. There were reviews, but they varied widely depending
on the reviewer. Reviews were always performed by the merger. Some mergers would give a light skim and approve
(because they'd expect a subsequent period of alpha/beta testing) while other mergers were meticulous about testing
related use-cases.
3. Third Era: A smaller number of developers had merge rights. Reviews become more distributed among a broader
set of contributors -- mergers act as facilitators and seek to enforce more particular norms.
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