Re: [Evolution] How our minds work (was: Msg Selection)

On Wed, 2010-06-16 at 21:14 -0400, Matthew Barnes wrote:
On Wed, 2010-06-16 at 16:39 -0430, Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:
Wish I knew. I'm not a devel and have no insight into how their minds
work :-) In fact I thought I had filed a BZ report a long time ago but I
can't seem to find it. Feel free to file it yourself and post the BZ
number here for others to add comments.

Here's some insight, at least from my perspective:

There are 4698 outstanding bugs on file for Evolution and related
modules, of which 1452 are enhancement requests.  The bug backlog spans
ten years, far longer than most of us have even been on the team.  There
are four, maybe five full-time developers left (myself included) and we
all work for open source companies that have their own products to be
maintained, which takes priority over "upstream" development (which, I
think it's safe to say, we all prefer doing).  I'd say at least half of
the roughly one million lines of the code we're maintaining was written
by developers no longer on the team.

When I have time for upstream development and I'm not already engrossed
in some mini-project for an upcoming release [1], I turn to my "bugs"
folder which holds emails Bugzilla sends me when a new bug is filed or
an existing one is updated.  The mails are sorted by date and I tend to
pick from the top, which means new bugs and noisy bugs tend to get my
time and attention.  Bugs that aren't resolved immediately and go silent
usually get lost in the stack as new bugs stream in: out-of-sight means

I think my work flow is fairly typical of all of us.

A few questions:

1) Is the bug queue growing or shrinking? Perhaps there isn't a simple
answer to that, but nearly 5000 outstanding bugs for 4 or 5 full-time
devels is a lot. No doubt there's some overlap between them, and not all
are equally urgent, but still.

2) Do you have an rough estimate of what proportion of fixed issues
correspond to enhancement requests? How about bugs or ERs related to

3) How are bugs and ERs prioritized? You seem to imply a LIFO ordering,
so what is a reporter supposed to do when a report is old but still not
dealt with? Perhaps some people mess with the priority/severity fields
because they don't know what to do (though IIRC I've never done this
myself). Also, if the priority/severity indicators are meaningless, why
are they there?

Best way to get our time and attention is to add constructive comments
to the bug.  Evolution being an open source project obviously source
code patches are ideal, but also helpful are screen shots, click by
click reproducer steps, complete gdb back traces or valgrind logs (for
the more technically savvy reporters)... and for enhancements: UI mock
ups (even if hand-drawn and scanned), algorithmic steps, thinking
through corner cases... basically anything that makes the bug easier to
solve.  Or just ask what you can do to help.


It doesn't guarantee an immediate response -- we're all swamped -- but
it at least puts the bug back on top of our "bugs" folder where we're
more likely to flag it to come back to later.

What not to do:

- Post obnoxious or nagging comments about the bug not being fixed yet.

I hope you don't think I was being snide. I've made a number of ERs over
the years and seen one or two being accepted. The fact that most of the
time one gets little or no feedback about these things makes it hard to
have a mental model of how they're dealt with. I think most of us
realize that the Evo devels are swamped. Relatively few people are
accomplished programmers, and only a small proportion of those have the
background in the Gnome platform to make a useful contribution. Evo is a
huge code base that requires a considerable time investment to learn.
Those of us that aren't able to do that can only contribute by offering
ideas and criticism. As long as it's constructive, that's a plus.


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