[squeak-dev] General Squeak projects and advice to help people ramp up

Juan Vuletich juan at jvuletich.org
Thu Sep 8 12:12:39 UTC 2011

Hi Jeff,

Jeff G wrote:
> This email was sparked by the conversation currently going on in the 
> "Fork Proposal" series of emails, and also by the seeming slow-down of 
> activity on the squeak trunk in the last little while.
> I am coming to squeak-dev as an interested semi-lurker, a developer 
> whose Smalltalk skills are still building along with my experience 
> with the Smalltalk community. The reason that the "Fork Proposal" 
> email grabbed my attention was because it threw out a concrete series 
> of goals that people in the community could work towards and which 
> could be attainable even by non-gurus.  This is personally something 
> that I would find a lot of value in and I believe that there are 
> people like me out there, loving squeak and smalltalk, wanting to 
> contribute, but not really sure where to spend our limited time for 
> maximum benefit to the community.  I know that a lot of open source is 
> produced by scratching one's itch, but in other cases communities have 
> set out general priorities and projects that people may be interested 
> in working on as a way of starting up groups of developers, and also 
> giving pointers to ways that interested beginning contributors can 
> help out without having to immediately dive into the deep end.  An 
> example would be the "Gnome Love" bugs designed to help people get 
> their feet wet contributing to gnome.
> As part of the squeak oversight board elections candidates gave a 
> statement of their intent while on the board and projects that they 
> have worked on, but that appears to have been a somewhat isolated 
> instance, and generally I don't get a feel that there are any large 
> concrete projects that have been announced or stated for squeak, 
> although people may be working on such projects privately.  I would 
> love to contribute more fully to squeak but I am sort of at the level 
> where I can keep working on small projects for myself and slowly 
> building up the knowledge to effectively contribute based on what I 
> can glean from this mailing list, the wiki and reading lots of code in 
> the image. I am willing to bet that there are others out there like 
> me.  So I am going to throw out some suggestions of things that would 
> really help me, done completely in the spirit of suggestions rather 
> than demands, what with this being an open source community and all:
> - projects that people are working on or that they think the community 
> might be interested in.  If I go to the Pharo website I can quickly 
> find out what their goals for the 1.4 release are.  Now of course this 
> is largely because of the benevolent dictator setup of the community 
> and squeak is not set up like this at all, but I think that some of 
> the main contributors could set out some of the things they are 
> working on or that they see as having value for the future of squeak, 
> as a way of soliciting support or help.  I know that I have asked 
> myself if it is worth looking into the gezira bindings or the athens 
> project that pharo has mentioned, as I sometimes wish for higher 
> quality anti-aliasing that BalloonCanvas can provide me. What about 
> going through old squeakmap projects and updating them until they work 
> with the new revision? Working to remove old code from the images? 
> Clearing out the bug tracker by testing all old bug against the 
> current revision and closing those that are fixed or no longer 
> applicable? Working to update the swiki image? Cleaning out the wiki 
> or updating some of the pages?
> - A set of easily accessible documentation that gives clear specific 
> advice on the steps one needs to take to contribute. Some things that 
> would definitely help me are: A set of consolidated documentation on 
> squeak's version of monticello, along with an explanation of the 
> standard monticello work flows and how they compare with other DVCSs. 
> What is the analog of branching  and pushing and pulling, if any, in 
> Monticello?  A quick guide to squeak map, how to upload your own 
> projects and how to fix projects that don't install on your version. A 
> quick dead-simple guide to contributing to trunk, how to save your 
> contribution to the inbox, how to run code as part of your 
> contribution in case something needs to be initialized when it is 
> loaded. I had to search a little for this information and there are 
> still holes in my understanding of what some of the expectations are 
> for the trunk.  In an absolutely perfect world this would be available 
> via the help system in the image, so that even a complete smalltalk 
> newbie could see exactly what to do if they find a bug in the image.
> - A set of tasks, maybe kept on the wiki that include some quick 
> small-bite tasks that a person could pick up to start building their 
> experience contributing to squeak.  As an added bonus this could help 
> out the more experienced developers as well. An example would be more 
> tests in the image.  Are there any areas that don't require deep 
> smalltalk knowledge (ie probably no decompiler tests) that could do 
> with more tests? Throw them up as something that someone could take 
> on. Methods that could use commenting? Start a comment of the day 
> contest much like pharo. Methods would probably allow for easier 
> contribution as they are smaller and more quickly understood than a 
> class. Giving some of the more senior developers assistance with these 
> tasks could be beneficial to the work that they are trying to get done.
> So is this email one big complaint? No, because that wouldn't really 
> be in the spirit of open source or smalltalk.  So I would like to step 
> forward and volunteer my time towards helping to make some of these 
> suggestions, or any others that people think would help squeak, become 
> a reality.  If you see anything valuable in any of those suggestions 
> that I made let me know, I would love to know where people find the 
> most value from my efforts.  Or perhaps you have some project that you 
> are working on that you would like help with! I would like to work 
> with the squeak community to do my part to help it move forward, but I 
> feel like some of the suggestions I have made above would help a lot 
> of people like me contribute their time as well.
> Thanks for reading this massive wall of text,
> Jeff G.

Thanks for your thoughts. This attitude is very much needed here!

I think you are in a perfect position to lead the work on part of what 
you correctly say we are missing: clear, consolidated instructions on 
how to do usual community stuff: Guides to SqueakMap and Monticello, how 
to contribute to trunk, how to create new projects and contribute to 
existing ones. Those guides should focus on usual procedures, "etiquette 
rules" and such, not so much on technical details. This would be a great 
enabler for potential contributors. And nobody is in a better position 
to do this than someone who's actually learning the stuff and is really 
motivated to help. Please team with others who might want to help and go 
for it!

(All your other comments are also very valuable and I hope they inspire 
others to comment on them and act!)

Juan Vuletich

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