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[Texmacs-dev] Of teams and coordination

From: Miguel de Benito Delgado
Subject: [Texmacs-dev] Of teams and coordination
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2012 14:51:01 +0100
User-agent: Postbox 3.0.3 (Macintosh/20120304)

Not so long ago, Joris proposed that we constitute a team of developers and interested people. Although not many have shown interest (where are you people??!), there is still the possibility that more join in and with them there will be an increase in the difficulty of coordinating efforts.

During the last week a couple of items in the tracker have been the origin of a long series of questions and problems, amounting to an absurdly huge waste of time, mainly because it was not clear to me why something had to be done (or rather not done) in a particular way. So I just kept asking. In the end the problem was that Joris is working in a related task ("reorganizations" :-) which will somehow render the current approach, and any patchy solutions on top of it like mine, obsolete.

Most of the pain and waste of time in that exchange could have been avoided if either I just shut up and did as I was told (I sometimes really should, I'm sorry for that) or if a detailed list of the tasks currently undertaken by each developerhad been available. Preparing and maintaining this list is in itself a time consuming task whose burden falls upon every one of us, but I think the net result would be a gain of time.

So I propose the four of us who are actively committing code at the moment, and any who are not but anyway work in some part of the project or wish to do so, input their objectives into the task tracker in savannah. With details, clear scope and current information or it will be totally useless. Any ideas or alternative to this approach would be very appreciated.

If there is to be such thing as a team, then we must act as one. We must know what the others are doing, why and when, or else there is no possibility of initiative.

This idea of keeping detailed task lists is evidently most relevant in relationship to Joris' work, because he is by far the most active developer and the one with the main goals in his head (I realize the perceived waste of time my proposal would mean for you, sorry!). The approach: "contributors should just prepare patches and send them" is fine when the patches address little, focalized problems which do not interfere with Joris' current projects, but it's totally inadequate for long term subprojects.

Now some ranting...

All this is of course partly in my own interest because I like to peek around the code and hate sticking to one particular task. In my opinion, cubicle-work is fine for a cubicle-job with corresponding salary and increasingly depressing workdays, not for a community. There is naturally the opposite view, that we each ought to do what we are told to, or what we agreed to in the first place and only under exceptional circumstances wander out of our domain. When properly implemented, this is probably more efficient in many (most?) cases and what any project leader might wish for, but it's not something one usually volunteers for. After all, I do this for fun.

Take for example the new "persistent storage". What is its intended use? Does that affect work related to preferences? Should I ditch what I did with those? And the new buffer related stuff: it renders completely obsolete my (few) ideas for better project management (and surely is incompatible with some of them). Or take the search feature or... well, you get it. The problem is not that my work is ditched because it's wrong or can be improved (it always can), the problem is that I shouldn't have started it in the first place!

Well, that's enough ranting for an email. Any ideas on the real issue?


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