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[technology-pmc] Review and recommendations for the ALF project
- From: Wayne Beaton <wayne@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 06 Oct 2008 12:41:03 -0400
- Delivered-to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- User-agent: Thunderbird 126.96.36.199 (X11/20080925)
I've done a review of the ALF project.
By way of background for new PMC members, the ALF committers were
approached some months ago  to rationalize continuation of ALF as an
Eclipse project. At that time, the Technology PMC expressed concern that
ALF was had not yet managed to develop a community around the project
and, it seemed, had seemed to have given up any attempt to develop
community. Their initial response was to defer the discussion. It seems
that, with passing time, they have chosen to ignore the PMC's request
for discussion (IMHO, the onus should be on them to follow up, not us).
I have summarized some of my own findings below. My take-away from the
information is that ALF has not done enough to encourage community
involvement. While it is relatively easy to determine what the project
provides, it is difficult to obtain the code, engage the committers, and
get directly involved in any meaningful way.
According to the Foundation database, their first committers were given
status in August 2005. This means that ALF has been a Technology project
for more than three years. I humbly suggest to the Technology PMC that
this has been long enough for ALF to establish itself and that it is
time for ALF to establish an end-game plan. More specifically, ALF needs
to either (a) move to another Eclipse top-level project, (b) become a
top-level project, or (c) be retired as an Eclipse project (archival).
Upon approval of the PMC, I intend to announce this requirement for ALF
to establish an end-game on the alf-dev list. If ALF intends to pursue
either of option (a) or (b), then they must produce a detailed plan for
the move. I intend to give them two weeks to respond after which time an
archival review will be scheduled on their behalf.
Here are some of my findings:
I apologise if these comments seem overly negative. There is many
positive aspects to this project; I have not focused on these as much as
I probably should.
Description on home page is informative. However, there is no link to
the "Project Info" page from their web site. The link off their main
page titled "Requirements" points to a wiki page in *edit* mode.
ALF Blog  has been inactive since March 2006.
Project planning page  has not been updated since 2006. They have not
provided a project plan in standard form.
"ALF Team" page  has some layout issues. George Stanchev is not
included on this page (he is a committer according to the Foundation
Latest downloads are dated December 2008. The "ALF Downloads" page does
include a reference to CVS. The organization in CVS is not easily
understood. After some searching, it seems that they've nested Eclipse
projects inside an Eclipse project. Ultimately, I had to download the
latest build to determine what I should be looking for in the
repository. It'd be nice to see a link to a Team Project Set or
Buckminster scripts to make it much easier to add the code to an Eclipse
There have been 503 downloads of the latest milestone build
(ALF1_0M8-2007-12-04-0018-incubation.zip). 15 of those downloads
occurred this past Saturday. This strikes me as a little curious. Any
idea why this might be?
Activity in the mailing list is slow. For the past several months, most
of the conversation has been around the topic "Is ALF still alive?".
Granted that much conversation was initiated by the Technology PMC, but
at least two community members has weighed in (, and ). Response
from the committers has been muted.
The project summary page  does not layout well. It seems as though
they're just linking their landing page as the description.
The newsgroup, eclipse.alf, has had no activity since August 2008.
Activity on the newsgroup has been very light and seems to be almost
entirely communication from committers. There seems to be very little
evidence of community involvement on the newsgroup.
The project plan  is a PDF rendering of a Microsoft Project document.
The use of Microsoft Project is not, in and of itself, a problem.
However, the document itself is intimidating. It gives the impression of
an entirely closed shop, leaving no room for others to contribute. It's
also out of date. The release date indicated on the project summary page
is in the past and needs to be updated along with the plan.
Almost every one of the 222 bugs raised against ALF was created by a
committer. Despite the fact that the 1.0 release has had milestone
releases for 10 months, there is no 1.0 version provided in Bugzilla (so
that adopters can raise bugs against that version).