[Seaside] GSoC13: Distributed Issue Tracker

Stephan Eggermont stephan at stack.nl
Tue Mar 12 10:37:49 UTC 2013

Distributed Issue Tracker 

Level: (intermediate, advanced)

Possible mentor: Stephan Eggermont

Possible second mentor: Diego Lont


A native smalltalk distributed issue tracker. It should have basic issue tracking functionality
including attaching files/pictures/code. It should have a native interface, a web interface
and a scripting API. Primary development is in Pharo.

Issue trackers have different kind of users. To make clear that different users have different 
needs, persona can be helpful. 

Isabelle is an information technology student looking for an interesting language and environment
to learn. She wants to contribute to and learn from a smart community and needs interesting 
experiences on her cv. She has already learned the basics of a few mainstream languages 
and feels ready to try something more exotic. Smalltalk seems interesting as the origin of 
many inventions.

Yann is the major developer of a web-based platform based on Pharo and Seaside. He needs
to ensure the platform keeps working smoothly and is updated regularly with the latest
changes. In production he uses the released versions. He fears the major clean-ups Pharo is
making make it difficult for him to keep up. He is dependent on a few old unmaintained 
squeaksource packages.

Janine just found an interesting old package on squeaksource. It was last changed in 2007.
She has been using smalltalk for a few years, so knows what to expect when trying to load
an unmaintained package. There are some missing classes that still exist in squeak.

Tony is the developer of a package that is used with nearly all smalltalks. He mainly works
with a commercial smalltalk and keeps just enough contact with the Pharo community to keep
his package working. He has complained about some changes that made it necessary for him to 
change his package structure. He mainly updates the Pharo version on his way to and from the 
office in the train. 

Eve maintains a few of the crucial Pharo kernel packages. They are under heavy development
and once in a while everything breaks, leading to a flood of issues. They mostly come from
outsiders, as she talks daily with the Pharo core team. She has to close a lot of them as 
duplicates. She also has to review code that gets attached in one form or another to the 

Daniel is a maintainer of the vm that forms the basis for the Pharo vm. The vm is used by 
many more projects.

Lara is a release manager for a well known linux distribution. Pharo is just one of 30 languages
that are included in the distribution. Before doing a release she scans the issue tracker for
any show stoppers. She had to stop including environments because of security issues.

Technical Details

The recent decision by Google to deprecate and stop its API for the Google Issue Tracker 
used by a.o. the Pharo, Seaside, MOOSE and Metacello projects makes it necessary for those 
projects to select a different issue tracker. The timespan before this decision has to be made is 
too short for the development of a new issue tracker from scratch. 

Now most development in Smalltalk uses distributed version control systems, either Monticello or Git, 
the question arises why these projects still would want to use a centralized issue tracker. The 
long-standing problems in keeping squeaksource up-and-running are only one example of the problems 
of depending on centralized infrastructure. Other examples are the move of Lukas' repository and the 
number of times where the Pharo CI infrastructure was not available, especially on holidays and weekends.  

The currently used issue trackers cannot work disconnected. Integrating the issue tracker in
the CI workflow of the projects is crucial.

The goals of the persona should be translated into a storymap. Delivery should be iterative
and incremental, driven by value to the community and technical risk. The student is expected 
to be active on the mailing list and discuss development there. This includes handling 
(source) contributions by others.

There is a small prototype available. 

Benefits to the Student

- getting to know the difficulties of issue tracking/the workflow of open source projects
- experience with distributed systems
- experience an agile open source environment

Benefits to the Community

- better integrated workflow
- native issue tracker, accessible both in-image, web and automated
- showcase for productive environment  


Here are seven persona. Which ones are missing/should be fleshed out?

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