The Apache Way and on writing software reviews

kinow @ 2013-09-29 14:53:53 ()

The Apache Way is the philosophy behind Apache Software Foundation and is shared by all of its projects. It is composed by a set of principles:

  • Collaborative software development
  • Commercial-friendly standard license
  • Consistently high quality software
  • Respectful, honest, technical-based interaction
  • Faithful implementation of standards
  • Security as a mandatory feature

I have been part of Apache Commons for a while, and haven’t really contributed much yet. Maybe because I had lots of projects related to TupiLabs as well as my own wedding this year. But I can assure that respectful, honest, technical-based interaction is quite right (not to discredit the other items, of course).

Even though there are critics of the Apache Way (1, 2, 3), it still stands as an important pillar for the Apache Software Foundation, and its principles help to create stable and production ready software, such as Apache Hadoop, Apache Httpd, Apache Commons Lang, among others.

There are many reviews and comparisons on Apache software (as well as on other software, like JavaScript libraries, Java Web Frameworks, Ruby Web servers and so on). Sometimes, though, these reviews or comparisons can be biased or not well founded. In cases like this, the developers of the tools may be frustrated, or users can be misled and choose the software based on wrong assertions.

I have just returned from honey moon, ready to start writing code again, but first I had to read all the unread messages in my inbox. Some were e-mails from Apache mailing lists. One of these e-mails had Phil Steitz comments on a post by Daniel Wu.

Instead of publishing his performance benchmark results of Apache Commons Pool, Daniel posted his code to the commons-dev mailing list. Phil Steitz, one of Apache Commons Pool committers replied with questions and a few points that Daniel could use to enrich his benchmark tests.

This kind of behavior happens a lot within Apache (at least in the mailing lists that I follow), and it produces a lot of benefits for different parts.

  • The person writing a review or comparison can get the programmer opinion before actually publishing anything.
  • The programmer can see how other people were testing his/her code.
  • All other commons-pool committers and maintainers, the mailing list readers, and people that found the mailing list archives will be able to read the conversation history.
  • No misguided benchmark results were published (and lots of wrong decisions were avoided).

I keep loving the Apache Way and the resulting community and code around it. There are always lots of things to learn, the Open Source projects communities are healthy and you will always find people willing to share their experience and time teaching you.

♥ Open Source


1 http://www.infoworld.com/d/open-source-software/has-apache-lost-its-way-225267?page=0,2

2 http://footle.org/2011/11/23/apache-considered-harmful/

3 http://www.itworld.com/it-managementstrategy/227477/has-open-source-outgrown-apache-way