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Re: Script to generate ChangeLogs automatically

From: Joseph Myers
Subject: Re: Script to generate ChangeLogs automatically
Date: Mon, 3 Dec 2018 18:57:08 +0000
User-agent: Alpine 2.21 (DEB 202 2017-01-01)

On Mon, 3 Dec 2018, Alfred M. Szmidt wrote:

>    I think that we should respect the experience of non-GNU free software 
>    developers managing very large non-GNU projects (e.g. the Linux kernel) 
>    with the above tools, but not using ChangeLog format, as a proof by 
>    example that ChangeLog format is not required to be able to answer all the 
>    questions about the history of the code that arise in practice in 
>    development.
> We should also respect the experience of the GNU project, with GCC,
> GDB, Emacs, Coreutils, and what not having a much longer history than
> most free software projects.  ChangeLogs in their various forms have
> served us well for 40 years, across multiple version control system,
> across I'd wager to say millions of contributors over the decades.

Many developers are now finding the format serves them increasingly badly 
- that the Linux kernel approach where the commit message is a 
higher-level description of the change, more or less identical to the 
mailing list message submitting the patch, produces a more useful history, 
and that once you have that higher-level free-form description of the 
change as the commit message, and once you're familiar with the various 
tools for working with version-control history, the low-level descriptions 
of changed entities become irrelevant.

We can and do put those higher-level descriptions in the commit messages 
anyway - we need to write them anyway - but then the ChangeLog-format 
messages become make-work, and an obstacle to accepting contributions from 
new contributors who have gained their free software experience in non-GNU 
contexts.  We should not be making new contributors jump through such 
hoops.  Siddhesh's script may be an effective workaround for the existence 
of those hoops, but it would be better not to have them at all.  
(Copyright assignments are an obstacle to low-overhead acceptance of 
contributions from new contributors as well, of course.)

Joseph S. Myers

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