[GRASS5] Where to start developing for GRASS

Bernhard Reiter bernhard at intevation.de
Tue Feb 25 05:47:26 EST 2003

On Tue, Feb 25, 2003 at 08:10:10AM +0100, Jaro Hofierka wrote:
>    I am a developer but also a user and 
>    I understand very well how important
>    is a stable and reliable system in critical projects. 

>    As a developer I
>    am a bit uncertain if I should work on modules
>    for grass5.1 or grass5.0 because some of grass5.0 modules have been
>    already transfered to grass5.1.

This kind of decision comes up more often
with our two lines of development.

To answer it you can try several criteria:

Size and stability of changes:

	Bug fixes and stable minor feature enhancements should go to 5.0.x.

	Structual changes and major feature enhancements 
	are more for 5.1.x or even 5.3.x.

How is your skill and engagement:

	Will you be active in GRASS development
	for short fixes or for a longer period (a year) and regular
	also helps to decide between helping the stable 
	or the development version.

>    It is clear that at some point in the future all development works for
>    grass5.0 must be stopped and all effort must be directed
>    to transition to grass5.2 (or grass5.1 stable). Otherwise we risk
>    wasting time and effort of many people.
>    Perhaps a core team of grass5.1 developers should keep grass5.1 as
>    minimal as possible in terms of number
>    of modules transferred from grass5.0 unless development of grass5.0 is
>    stopped.

Experience with other big Free Software projects I follow
and GRASS itself shows that GRASS 5.0.x will be in use for quite a while.
We could switch it to full bug fixing only maintance mode
when usable 5.1.x development releases become available.

We can only stop bug fixing if 5.2.0 is released and stable.
Even then a community might decide to further maintain 5.0.x.

> This may be a philosophic issue rather than a software issue. When I look
> at the Grass website I see the words "stable release" and "supported"
> associated with 5.0.0 and the words "highly experimental" and "use at you
> own risk" associated with 5.1.x. That is not going to encourage a quick
> transistion to the next version by the average user. My guess is that many
> users are more interested in having a stable GIS even if the functions are
> limited than having ideal functionality with unknown stability. I
> absolutely support all efforts to improve future versions of Grass, but I
> think it is a bit early to abandon efforts to clean up 5.0.0, even in areas
> where it is weak, only 5 months after it hit the streets as an official
> release. This is just my opinion. I am not a programmer, just an interested
> user. I have a hard enough time understanding the geographic part without
> using experimental software.

When I talked to Markus some years ago,
we found out that GRASS as many very conservative users.
They need very stable bug free versions.
This fact always kept proposed bigger changes from happening
as they will endanger stability.

The solution was to introduce CVS (with minor lines of development) 
and two major lines of development like the Linux kernel has.
The drawbacks are that more back- and foreporting of code needs to happen
and more CVS skills are required. 
The above mentioned advantages by far outweight the drawbacks, though.

> BTW: all of the developers have done a magnificent job making GRASS what it
> is today. Thanks.

You are welcome!

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