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Architecture guidelines and RFCs

 

 

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robla at wikimedia

May 25, 2013, 6:50 AM

Post #1 of 3 (238 views)
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Architecture guidelines and RFCs

Hi folks,

Many of us met at the Amsterdam Hackathon to discuss architecture
guidelines (almost everyone with +2 in MediaWiki core, plus other
knowledgeable people), and generally about the need to have more
substantive conversations about MediaWiki architecture. It was a
really productive discussion, and had a number of outcomes:

1. RFC review: we agreed that RFCs need more diligent review. Brion
and Tim are planning to pull together the architects for regular
discussions (weekly? TBD) to at least touch all of the outstanding
RFCs, with the goal of clearing the current backlog of RFCs. If y'all
don't see substantial movement on this in a couple of weeks, please
point this out.

2. RFC use: right now, RFCs aren't used in many cases where they
should be. Assuming we get into a good flow with RFCs, we can then
reasonably expect people to actually write them when they're making
significant changes to the MediaWiki architecture.

3. Architecture guidelines: we now have a rough beginning draft of
architecture guidelines[2] we plan to use as guiding principles for
RFC review. This is a document that we plan to discuss on wiki in c2
wiki style[3]. Please participate! This is a living document, which
will be referenced in RFCs and responses to RFCs. We will use this
mailing list to discuss the more contentious issues and generally
ensure we continue to move forward refining this document.

4. A general agreement that we need to make sure that we have similar
conversations at every substantial gathering of +2 developers. For
example, we plan to figure something out for Wikimania.

We have raw notes from both days of meetings, available here:
https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Amsterdam_Hackathon_2013/Architectural_principles_document

Rob

[1] http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Requests_for_comment
[2] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Architecture_guidelines
[3] "c2 wiki style" is with inline comments similar to the c2 Design
Patterns wiki: http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?DesignPatterns

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z at mzmcbride

May 25, 2013, 9:11 PM

Post #2 of 3 (215 views)
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Re: Architecture guidelines and RFCs [In reply to]

Rob Lanphier wrote:
>2. RFC use: right now, RFCs aren't used in many cases where they
>should be. Assuming we get into a good flow with RFCs, we can then
>reasonably expect people to actually write them when they're making
>significant changes to the MediaWiki architecture.

\o/

It may make sense to have a more standardized structure for RFCs. Or at
least some better guidance on how to create an RFC. Sometimes people will
forget to include background information or a clear statement of the
problem and will instead skip straight into proposing solutions.

The relationship between an RFC and Bugzilla could also use consideration.
For example, I prefer that a mature RFC be attached to a tracking bug in
Bugzilla.

>1. RFC review: we agreed that RFCs need more diligent review. Brion
>and Tim are planning to pull together the architects for regular
>discussions (weekly? TBD) to at least touch all of the outstanding
>RFCs, with the goal of clearing the current backlog of RFCs. If y'all
>don't see substantial movement on this in a couple of weeks, please
>point this out.

There seems to be a disagreement about the purpose of RFCs. Some people
have suggested that RFCs without a clear execution path and "owner" (i.e.,
someone committed to implementing the idea) should be avoided. As pointed
out in the current architecture guidelines, RFCs encompass ideas that:

* someone is hoping others will bring to fruition; or
* that currently lack concrete implementation details.

I don't see this as an issue. I would simply call these draft RFCs (which
the current RFC setup basically does). My concern is that these draft RFCs
may be damaged or destroyed if more stringent requirements are introduced.

While I can appreciate the desire to have a clear, concise, and actionable
RFC for every grand idea, I think this desire misses the wiki and
consensus-building components of RFCs. They're not simply "I want to and
am willing to implement feature X"; requests for comment are often about
soliciting input and feedback about how to approach a particular problem.
Sometimes the solution isn't clear and/or feedback is needed.

The benefits I see to RFCs are that (a) they are more structured,
organized, reference-able, and permanent than mailing lists discussions;
and (b) they are less e-mail-y and reply conversation-y than Bugzilla
comments. (This isn't to say that a well-formed RFC won't include
discussion, of course.) For cases where a developer wants a discrete
action item, that's the scope (broadly) of a bug report, in my opinion.

MZMcBride



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bvibber at wikimedia

May 26, 2013, 12:31 AM

Post #3 of 3 (213 views)
Permalink
Re: Architecture guidelines and RFCs [In reply to]

One of the reasons we want to get the RFC process moving again is that
we've got some general agreement that it'll be necessary to do some big
refactorings and internal API improvements... yes, we're thinking of
seriously going for a MediaWiki 2.0.

This is going to mean actually going through and killing some old
deprecated interfaces, and possibly a big maintenance/conversion effort on
extensions to keep them up to date with internals changes. Some of these
changes will be contentious, but necessary for making MediaWiki a better,
easier to use, easier to maintain, and easier to extend framework.

Having a clearer RFC process should let us discuss these things without
falling too much into bikeshedding, and most importantly make sure we come
to decisions and actually implement them. Official buy-in from WMF
Engineering and from core committers and reviewers is important in making
this real -- and I feel like we have it.

Over the next few weeks I hope that we'll get through much of the existing
RFC backlog, and then we'll be able to put bigger things on the table that
move us towards 2.0.


We might think about looking at the Python PEP process, or the committer
voting that Apache projects tend to do, as partial examples to follow (or
diverge from, as necessary.)

-- brion


On Sat, May 25, 2013 at 3:50 PM, Rob Lanphier <robla [at] wikimedia> wrote:

> Hi folks,
>
> Many of us met at the Amsterdam Hackathon to discuss architecture
> guidelines (almost everyone with +2 in MediaWiki core, plus other
> knowledgeable people), and generally about the need to have more
> substantive conversations about MediaWiki architecture. It was a
> really productive discussion, and had a number of outcomes:
>
> 1. RFC review: we agreed that RFCs need more diligent review. Brion
> and Tim are planning to pull together the architects for regular
> discussions (weekly? TBD) to at least touch all of the outstanding
> RFCs, with the goal of clearing the current backlog of RFCs. If y'all
> don't see substantial movement on this in a couple of weeks, please
> point this out.
>
> 2. RFC use: right now, RFCs aren't used in many cases where they
> should be. Assuming we get into a good flow with RFCs, we can then
> reasonably expect people to actually write them when they're making
> significant changes to the MediaWiki architecture.
>
> 3. Architecture guidelines: we now have a rough beginning draft of
> architecture guidelines[2] we plan to use as guiding principles for
> RFC review. This is a document that we plan to discuss on wiki in c2
> wiki style[3]. Please participate! This is a living document, which
> will be referenced in RFCs and responses to RFCs. We will use this
> mailing list to discuss the more contentious issues and generally
> ensure we continue to move forward refining this document.
>
> 4. A general agreement that we need to make sure that we have similar
> conversations at every substantial gathering of +2 developers. For
> example, we plan to figure something out for Wikimania.
>
> We have raw notes from both days of meetings, available here:
>
> https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Amsterdam_Hackathon_2013/Architectural_principles_document
>
> Rob
>
> [1] http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Requests_for_comment
> [2] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Architecture_guidelines
> [3] "c2 wiki style" is with inline comments similar to the c2 Design
> Patterns wiki: http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?DesignPatterns
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> Wikitech-l [at] lists
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
_______________________________________________
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