The ACE+TAO Development and Release Process

To improve the quality of our software and minimize development effort, we try to follow the structured development and release process described below.

An important concept to keep in mind is risk. Before you commit any change to ACE+TAO, please consider the effects that it will have. Could it possibly cause a build failure, on any platform? Could it possibly cause different run-time behavior? And so on. If so, it is your responsibility to adequately build and test with the change, in order to verify that it has no unintended effects.

Please keep in mind the cost of committing a mistake. It may take you only a few seconds to fix, but its cost to the group may be much larger. With our large group, workspace updates and builds are likely to happen at any time. If one break, it can take hours to rebuild it. And each developer that was waiting for a successful build would be blocked for the duration of the broken build, the fix, and the rebuild.

The ACE+TAO Development Process

The ACE+TAO development process looks like:

  1. Every change to ACE+TAO must have a bug report. Change includes fixes, enhancements, updates, and so on.
  2. Create a an issue.
  3. Accept the bug report if you are going to implement the change.
  4. Implement the change in your workspace(s) using a branch. Clearly document each commit because that information is gathered into our changelog
  5. Test the change sufficiently to demonstrate that it both does what is intended, and doesn't break anything. The test may be as simple as building and running the ACE+TAO tests on at least two platforms. Or as complicated as rebuilding and test all of ACE+TAO on all platforms that we have.
  6. Merge the changes only to master when you are available the next 3 days to resolve any issues. If you aren't available, hold your merge until you are available
  7. Respond to the requester of the change, if any. Please do this after merging your change.
  8. Make sure that the requester is listed in the THANKS file.
  9. Update the bug report to indicate resolution.
  10. Monitor the next round of build/tests for problems with your change. Because there are slow systems it can take up to 4 days to get all builds done.
  11. Respond immediately to reports of problems with your changes.

Bug Lifecycles

A bug should typically follow this life cycle:

Submitter: Enters problem
Bugmaster: Assigns
Owner: Accepts
Owner: Reproduces problem - if it needs a new test, write it and put it in the regression tests. If it can't be reproduced, set to Resolved/CANT_FIND.
If it's a duplicate, set it to Resolved/DUPLICATE. Fix code, commit changes, set to Resolved.
Submitter: Tests it again; set to Verified (pass) or Reopened (fail)
Owner: After next release is done, re-test; sets to Closed or Reopened.

The Role of the Build Czar

At all times, we'll have a build czar. The role may be shared by multiple people. The build czar is responsible for ensuring that the next kits are clean, i.e., it builds and runs cleanly on all platforms. The status of all ACE+TAO builds is tracked automatically online.

A comprehensive summary of the build czar's role is available here. This role is briefly summarized below:

If another developer interferes with the build czar's duties, the build czar has the unilateral authority to pass the mantle to the violator. This is also intentional, desirable, beneficial, and the Right Thing[TM] to do.

The ACE+TAO Release Process

Minor releases of ACE+TAO occur periodically, typically twice a year. Minor releases have two-digit numbers, e.g., 5.3. Major releases are released infrequently, typically once a year. Major releases are 1-digit numbers, e.g.,5, that include substantially new functionality. Both major and minor releases are carefully tested on all platforms the ACE+TAO run on. In particular, we do not put out major or minor releases of ACE+TAO until all the compilations and regression tests work successful on all the platform we support.

Between major/minor releases, we release micro releases periodically, e.g., 3-4 times per year, so that ACE+TAO users can download and test our latest work in progress. ACE+TAO micro release kits have three-digit numbers, e.g., 5.3.1. Micro releases often contain important fixes that aren't in the major/minor releases and will compile cleanly and pass most tests on most platforms. They are not, however, necessarily concerned with ensuring API compatibilities between micro releases, e.g., new features may be changed or removed between the micro releases.

Contributions from the Open-Source Community

Over the years, ACE+TAO have benefited significantly from contributions by thousands of developers in the open-source community. To avoid fragmentation of the code base, by submitting comments, suggestions, code, code snippets, techniques (including that of usage) and algorithms (collectively ``Submissions''), submitters acknowledge that they have the right to do so, that any such Submissions are given freely and unreservedly, and that they waive any claims to copyright or ownership. In addition, submitters acknowledge that any such Submission might become part of the copyright maintained on the overall body of code that comprises the open-source DOC Group software. By making a Submission, submitter agree to these terms. Moreover, submitters acknowledge that the incorporation or modification of such Submissions is entirely at the discretion of the moderators of the open-source DOC software projects or their designees.

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