Cooperative Development at the Speed of Light
The agility and responsiveness of major open-source endeavors never ceases to amaze me.
Earlier today I realized that the, otherwise excellent, Greek localization of MediaWiki lacked a localized table of Magic Words; elements one can add to wiki pages to get specific behavior. This omission could confuse the users of a Greek wiki I maintain. It was very easy to find the file that had to be modified, and in less than an hour I had completed the translation of the corresponding PHP hash array. I tested the change on my setup, and it worked fine. Figuring that I would not want to have to reapply the fix in the next MediaWiki update, I set out to submit a patch to the MediaWiki developers. I read that the appropriate procedure was to file a bug report. I entered the patch into the MediaWiki Bugzilla fearing however that my patch would disappear into oblivion. However, less than four hours after I downloaded MediaWiki's repository for editing the patch had made it into the Subversion repository!
Here is a complete timetable of the events:
|14:49||I download the MediaWiki source code through Subversion|
|16:07||I finish editing the messages file|
|16:43||I complete testing my changes|
|17:01||I create a patch|
|17:20||I have created an account on Bugzilla and submitted the patch|
|18:27||Raimond Spekking applies the patch to the Subversion repository|
This entry's title, Cooperative Development at the Speed of Light is of course an exaggeration. However, I've calculated that if we communicated by shouting, the trip
- from my office in Athens to the WikiMedia Bugzilla server in Florida,
- from the WikiMedia Bugzilla server in Florida to Raimond Spekking in Köln,
- from Raimond Spekking in Köln to the WikiMedia Subversion server in the Netherlands,
- from Raimond Spekking in Köln to the WikiMedia Bugzilla server in Florida,
- from the WikiMedia Bugzilla server in Florida back to me, and
- from the WikiMedia Subversion server in the Netherlands back to me
(8183km + 6633km + 173km + 6633km + 8183km + 1871km) / 340.29m/s = 93,085s = 25hours!
I have friends working at large IT companies who have to wait months to get a commit window to apply their fixes to code they maintain. No matter what problems one thinks that open-source processes have, agility is not one of them.Read and post comments, or share through