[RFC] RFC process/management

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Nicofuma
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[RFC] RFC process/management

Post by Nicofuma » Sun Jan 18, 2015 5:21 pm

Currently on area51 we have a few forums dedicated to the RFC (proposal, merged and rejected) and a forum dedicated to development related discussion (ie: mainly ideas).

But I think that we need to change this or, at least, redefine clearly what an RFC is, what each forum is for, the rules and we should apply them.

a. Why
Because there is 20 pages of topics in the RFC forum and it's not acceptable:
  • Most of them aren't RFC (just ideas or discussion) or not relevant anymore (even already implemented for some of them)
  • Some RFC are duplicated
  • No one will go through the 20 pages before making a new RFC or to see if one of the RFC could be interesting
  • => The good RFCs (even some very good which are just waiting for someone implementing them) are lost in the mass and will never be seen nor implemented because like for everything in a forum, we could say: "A topic on the third page is dead, no one will never see it."

1. What is an RFC?
An RFC (Request For Change/Comments) is document containing a call for an adjustment. It is declarative, i.e. it states what needs to be accomplished.

What I want to say here is that, for me, an RFC should describe what needs to be done, what should be the result and why it should be done. So a discussion or an ideas aren't RFC.

2. What is each forum for?
  • The discussion forum is to discuss about the development or anything related to the development which isn't an RFC
  • The RFC forum is to submit an RFC and discuss about it
  • The merged RFC forum is for the merged RFCs
  • The rejected RFC forum is for the rejected/outdated (not relevant anymore) RFC

3. RFC topic
An RFC must be updated (by the author if he is here or the dev team if the author isn't here anymore) and reflects the current state (and so up-to-date) of the discussion:
  • The pros and cons should be listed
  • The links to the related JIRA ticket/Github PR (included the older PRs) should be included
  • The first post should describe the actual consensus, what the contributors agree to and not only the initial proposal
Note: A template should be provided

4. How is an RFC rejected?
To be done...

5. What to do if an RFC is abandoned?
Just leave it in the RFC forum.

Alternative
Remove the RFC forum and use the tracker instead. There is some duplication between them.
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Mess
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Re: [RFC] RFC process/management

Post by Mess » Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:13 am

I agree. And have been saying that for some time.
New ideas should go in the excellent ideas tool on phpBB.com(I realize its down currently), RFC should only be posted by actual developers to gauge interest and get input on how to achieve the best result.

Thanks for bringing this up Nicofuma.

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Re: [RFC] RFC process/management

Post by Pony99CA » Wed Jan 21, 2015 3:22 am

Mess wrote:New ideas should go in the excellent ideas tool on phpBB.com(I realize its down currently), RFC should only be posted by actual developers to gauge interest and get input on how to achieve the best result.
If by "developers", you mean people on the phpBB Development Team, I completely disagree. If you mean "somebody who will actually submit a pull request" (even if not on the Development Team), that would be better, but I'm still not sure that I like it that much. I wonder how many ideas that weren't posted on the Ideas page made it into phpBB 3.1 (even if it was before that site existed).

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Re: [RFC] RFC process/management

Post by VSE » Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:10 am

I agree with Nicofuma's points, however, I personally feel the RFC process on area51 can be scrapped altogether, as it seems most development discussion currently occurs between IRC, JIRA tickets and GitHub PRs. Requiring further discussion here only slows and diffuses the process, which IMO really needs to be consolidated down to fewer places rather than expanded across more mediums.

When phpBB Ideas is back up, that would be the best place for anybody to post their ideas for new changes for phpBB, where they can be voted on or rated by a larger phpBB user audience, rather than here on area51, where only a tiny handful of regular non-team members are active, but not necessarily representative of the larger phpBB user base.

Funnily enough, as you can see here, this RFC forum was conceived to discuss development on patches for the now defunct phpBB4. It has devolved into a sort of free-for-all feature request forum now, which is what Ideas was for.
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Re: [RFC] RFC process/management

Post by JoshyPHP » Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:10 am

VSE wrote:I personally feel the RFC process on area51 can be scrapped altogether, as it seems most development discussion currently occurs between IRC, JIRA tickets and GitHub PRs.
While I agree that consolidating discussions would be an improvement, IRC is neither persistent nor asynchronous. You can't read past discussions and if you're not online when they happen, you can't participate. JIRA is not very usable and GitHub comments are both hard to read and easy to miss/lose in a see of commits/diffs. I think that having a RFC process is the right approach and the changes outlined by Nicofuma seem like a step in the right direction.

I agree with the state of the RFC forum: most threads consist in lots, lots of bikeshedding and not a single line of code published. Those would belong in an "ideas" forum. I think a proper RFC should require an implementor; Someone who writes code, usually its author. Reasonable ideas often devolve into an hypothetical one-size-fits-all feature that never gets implemented because too many people are trying to make it fit their usage. An implementor would keep scope creep and development costs in check because ultimately they're the one paying the bill. If the implementor is not a phpBB developer, a RFC should require a phpBB developer assigned to oversee it it's officially abandonned until its PR is merged.
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Re: [RFC] RFC process/management

Post by Mess » Fri Jan 23, 2015 7:47 am

Pony99CA wrote:
Mess wrote:New ideas should go in the excellent ideas tool on phpBB.com(I realize its down currently), RFC should only be posted by actual developers to gauge interest and get input on how to achieve the best result.
If by "developers", you mean people on the phpBB Development Team, I completely disagree. If you mean "somebody who will actually submit a pull request" (even if not on the Development Team), that would be better, but I'm still not sure that I like it that much. I wonder how many ideas that weren't posted on the Ideas page made it into phpBB 3.1 (even if it was before that site existed).

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Re: [RFC] RFC process/management

Post by MichaelC » Mon Jan 26, 2015 12:45 am

VSE wrote:I agree with Nicofuma's points, however, I personally feel the RFC process on area51 can be scrapped altogether, as it seems most development discussion currently occurs between IRC, JIRA tickets and GitHub PRs. Requiring further discussion here only slows and diffuses the process, which IMO really needs to be consolidated down to fewer places rather than expanded across more mediums.

When phpBB Ideas is back up, that would be the best place for anybody to post their ideas for new changes for phpBB, where they can be voted on or rated by a larger phpBB user audience, rather than here on area51, where only a tiny handful of regular non-team members are active, but not necessarily representative of the larger phpBB user base.

Funnily enough, as you can see here, this RFC forum was conceived to discuss development on patches for the now defunct phpBB4. It has devolved into a sort of free-for-all feature request forum now, which is what Ideas was for.
+1

At the moment a feature/improvement goes through these stages:
Idea -> RFC -> Ticket -> Pull Request

This is quite a long and arduous process and RFCs seem to be the least required point in the chain as PRs are required for obvious reasons, tickets are used for changelogs and overall release management and ideas provides a way for end users/the community to suggest/vote upon features away from development discussion. None of these things can really take place in any other parts except tickets/prs as technical discussion such is that that takes place in RFCs can quite easily be done in tickets so these two stages could quite easily be merged. I also think that moving discussions from RFCs to tickets will make them more technical (Area51 seems to be about 25/75 technical discussion at the moment and there is a lot of 'bloat' discussion).

Area51 can still be continued to be used as a test site and a discussion site for the development of phpBB features, improvements and development processes but without the formal RFC process or RFC stage in the progression from idea -> feature implemented in phpBB. The other advantage to this is that area51 is used as a test site and on the bleeding edge of development but currently we host a vital part of our development process on it. Should area51 ever go wrong this could have disastrous consequences as we do depend on it hugely and therefore lessening this dependency can only be a good thing.
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Re: [RFC] RFC process/management

Post by Louis7777 » Mon Jan 26, 2015 3:25 pm

MichaelC wrote: At the moment a feature/improvement goes through these stages:
Idea -> RFC -> Ticket -> Pull Request
I think Ideas and RFCs are on separate chains:

Idea -> Ticket -> Pull Request

RFC -> Ticket -> Pull Request

An "Idea" doesn't necessarily have an RFC topic in Area51.

Also there are a few differences between an Idea and an RFC which are not due to their own nature but due to their location on the website. Different audience, different discussion pace and different visibility.

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Re: [RFC] RFC process/management

Post by MichaelC » Mon Jan 26, 2015 9:41 pm

Louis7777 wrote:
MichaelC wrote: At the moment a feature/improvement goes through these stages:
Idea -> RFC -> Ticket -> Pull Request
I think Ideas and RFCs are on separate chains:

Idea -> Ticket -> Pull Request

RFC -> Ticket -> Pull Request

An "Idea" doesn't necessarily have an RFC topic in Area51.

Also there are a few differences between an Idea and an RFC which are not due to their own nature but due to their location on the website. Different audience, different discussion pace and different visibility.
That doesn't change the outcome of my post however, I never suggested merging RFCs and Ideas.
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Re: [RFC] RFC process/management

Post by Nicofuma » Sun Feb 08, 2015 3:38 pm

Actually I don't think we can use the tracker for that: with more than a few comments it's unreadable (no pagination and it autocollapses)
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