On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

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On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

Júlio Hoffimann
Dear all,

Before entering the atmosphere, i want to thank you all from outside, as an external admirer. You all did a great job providing a free alternative (pick any interpretation) for scientists explore the boundaries of knowledge with no constraints on what they can or cannot do with the tools in hand. Thank you.

Now let's dive in with the minds open, forget the past because it doesn't alter anything...

I can smell two types of air. One is more dense, full in substratum, in fact it occurs in deeper layers, close to the core where we can find a rich environment with beautiful (parser) trees, birds, ... It's refreshing. The second can only be smelled on high mountains, and lucky are the ones who had the opportunity to feel this sensation.

As a adventurer, i would like to share this sensation with my friends, but due to the altitude and faraway places they always give up in joining this journey. I insist to them the air found in the mountains is sublime, but it's hard to convince people when they are under the effect of toxic gases produced in urban centers.

I'm here to purpose the union of these two important communities (Core and Forge), to eliminate this strong separation that makes devs/users lives much more difficult. We can make the GNU Octave atmosphere even richer and minimize the losses, as nature does.

I don't see reasons to maintain two mailing lists, two disconnected repositories, two communities. After all, we're all doing our best to provide what we think is useful to us and to others.

Being concrete, what do you think in gradually absorb Octave Forge packages into Octave main repo as subrepos? This would require an effective collaboration to review the packages, to purge redundancies (reimplementation) and i'm here to help, just to mention!

People interested in contribute to the Forge packages would just do it inside the main Octave repo, inside a subdirectory. Forge maintainers would have total access to the subrepo contributing exactly the same way they contribute today, with the difference they would be closer to the core, which is great.

The builds would be completely independent, we would just add targets to the packages (make forge, make forge-optim, ...).

Please, put all the individual feelings aside and think as a community. I'm glad to be part of it.

Best regards,
Júlio.

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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

Daniel Sebald
On 09/14/2012 02:45 PM, Júlio Hoffimann wrote:
> Dear all,
>

> I'm here to purpose the union of these two important communities (Core
> and Forge), to eliminate this strong separation that makes devs/users
> lives much more difficult. We can make the GNU Octave atmosphere even
> richer and minimize the losses, as nature does.
>
> I don't see reasons to maintain two mailing lists, two disconnected
> repositories, two communities. After all, we're all doing our best to
> provide what we think is useful to us and to others.
>
> Being concrete, what do you think in gradually absorb Octave Forge
> packages into Octave main repo as subrepos? This would require an
> effective collaboration to review the packages, to purge redundancies
> (reimplementation) and i'm here to help, just to mention!
>
> People interested in contribute to the Forge packages would just do it
> inside the main Octave repo, inside a subdirectory. Forge maintainers
> would have total access to the subrepo contributing exactly the same way
> they contribute today, with the difference they would be closer to the
> core, which is great.
>
> The builds would be completely independent, we would just add targets to
> the packages (make forge, make forge-optim, ...).
>
> Please, put all the individual feelings aside and think as a community.
> I'm glad to be part of it.
>
> Best regards,
> Júlio.

Júlio,

The OctaveForge repositories was a discussion item at OctConf 2012.
Opinions are varied, but I'll try summarizing.

First, I don't think there is the great divide that you are suggesting.
  There is an OctaveForge repository separate from the core of Octave
for a few reasons.  Probably the most salient reason is the fact the
whole project becomes difficult to manage if the core of Octave and all
the packages are combined into one.  I think there may have been a time
when scripts were organized and combined with Octave, then it became too
much and people thought a packaging system was needed.  Mailing lists
re-arranged quite a bit as well, at first being narrow, then splitting
into specific function which became irrelevant as some of the mailing
lists got little traffic.  Development has sort of evolved into the
current arrangement that seems to function well enough for the time being.

There are three, maybe four levels of Octave code:

1) Core Octave written in C++ (i.e., compiled code)
2) Commonly-used, moderately-general m-scripts (i.e., interpreted code)
3) Compiled or scripted code related to user interface, whether that be
a graphics engine, GUI/IDE, etc.
4) Voluminous packages of field-related m-scripts

The first level needs to be extremely efficient and well organized code.
  Being part of GNU software, it must also ensure that licenses are
observed properly.  Up to this point, the main Octave maintainers (i.e.,
those most active and productive...and those most active has changed
over the history of the project with people coming and going on the
basis of available time) had to focus on levels 1 and 2 with blinders to
levels 3 and 4, otherwise they wouldn't have been so productive.  If one
were to look, I think they'd find that the most active people on the
maintainers email list (emails and coding) are the least active on the
OctDev list, aside from an occasional post to clear up some detail.

At level four the packages are associated with diverse fields with
contributions from many.  Efficiency, correctness and such just doesn't
get the robust scrutiny that the code maintained in the core does.


> Before entering the atmosphere, i want to thank you all from outside, as
> an external admirer. You all did a great job providing a free
> alternative (pick any interpretation) for scientists explore the
> boundaries of knowledge with no constraints on what they can or cannot
> do with the tools in hand. Thank you.
>
> Now let's dive in with the minds open, forget the past because it
> doesn't alter anything...
>
> I can smell two types of air. One is more dense, full in substratum, in
> fact it occurs in deeper layers, close to the core where we can find a
> rich environment with beautiful (parser) trees, birds, ... It's
> refreshing. The second can only be smelled on high mountains, and lucky
> are the ones who had the opportunity to feel this sensation.
>
> As a adventurer, i would like to share this sensation with my friends,
> but due to the altitude and faraway places they always give up in
> joining this journey. I insist to them the air found in the mountains is
> sublime, but it's hard to convince people when they are under the effect
> of toxic gases produced in urban centers.

A bit off topic, but on the matter of toxic gases, society can make
urban centers that are livable, which helps preserve natural spaces.  It
doesn't have to be one and the other.

Dan

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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

Júlio Hoffimann
Hi Daniel,
 
There are three, maybe four levels of Octave code:

1) Core Octave written in C++ (i.e., compiled code)
2) Commonly-used, moderately-general m-scripts (i.e., interpreted code)
3) Compiled or scripted code related to user interface, whether that be a graphics engine, GUI/IDE, etc.
4) Voluminous packages of field-related m-scripts

Thanks for your reply. These levels are familiar to me, i'm contributing with very little patches when i have time.

This week i started to use Octave Forge, precisely the optimization package. I found some missing headers during the installation and wanted to submit another patch as usual, but then i realized i should clone another repository, find another bug track system, subscribe to another mailing list to discuss about it. I said to myself, this is wrong, let's make it better.

And now i'm here asking if we can do it.


A bit off topic, but on the matter of toxic gases, society can make urban centers that are livable, which helps preserve natural spaces.  It doesn't have to be one and the other.

I tried to refer to the culture around another software, a toxic software. :)

Júlio.

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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

Daniel Sebald
On 09/14/2012 06:53 PM, Júlio Hoffimann wrote:

> Hi Daniel,
>
>     There are three, maybe four levels of Octave code:
>
>     1) Core Octave written in C++ (i.e., compiled code)
>     2) Commonly-used, moderately-general m-scripts (i.e., interpreted code)
>     3) Compiled or scripted code related to user interface, whether that
>     be a graphics engine, GUI/IDE, etc.
>     4) Voluminous packages of field-related m-scripts
>
>
> Thanks for your reply. These levels are familiar to me, i'm contributing
> with very little patches when i have time.
>
> This week i started to use Octave Forge, precisely the optimization
> package. I found some missing headers during the installation and wanted
> to submit another patch as usual, but then i realized i should clone
> another repository, find another bug track system, subscribe to another
> mailing list to discuss about it. I said to myself, this is wrong, let's
> make it better.

I understand that, and this confusion may have been one of the
motivations for the conversation at OctConf 2012.  It stems from the
choice of name Octave Forge, which is similar to the name SourceForge
(whether that is the reason for the name, I'm not sure), and if I'm
remembering correctly Octave development too may have been on
SourceForge at one time.

Even though the web pages for Octave and OctaveForge are fairly well
organized, they might not be so descriptive about the relationship
between the two.  For example, on the main page

http://octave.sourceforge.net/

it states "Octave-Forge is a central location for the collaborative
development of packages for GNU Octave."  Nothing there implies
Octave-Forge is closely tied in with the Octave core code, but I realize
those unfamiliar with the setup come to an introduction believe there
is.  In the developers description is:

http://octave.sourceforge.net/developers.html

"To contribute your .m files, C++, C, or Fortran code to the GNU Octave
Repository (octave-forge) you need to" which doesn't add clarity and
slightly obfuscates because of the phrase "GNU Octave Repository".
Maybe one concludes "repository for GNU Octave" in the sense that is
were GNU Octave is.  A better phrasing might be "repository of packages
that run under GNU Octave", or "repository for GNU Octave compatible
packages".

Can you think of any way the initial introduction could have been made
more straightforward?

Dan

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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

PhilipNienhuis
Daniel J Sebald wrote:

> On 09/14/2012 06:53 PM, Júlio Hoffimann wrote:
>> Hi Daniel,
>>
>>      There are three, maybe four levels of Octave code:
>>
>>      1) Core Octave written in C++ (i.e., compiled code)
>>      2) Commonly-used, moderately-general m-scripts (i.e., interpreted code)
>>      3) Compiled or scripted code related to user interface, whether that
>>      be a graphics engine, GUI/IDE, etc.
>>      4) Voluminous packages of field-related m-scripts
>>
>>
>> Thanks for your reply. These levels are familiar to me, i'm contributing
>> with very little patches when i have time.
>>
>> This week i started to use Octave Forge, precisely the optimization
>> package. I found some missing headers during the installation and wanted
>> to submit another patch as usual, but then i realized i should clone
>> another repository, find another bug track system, subscribe to another
>> mailing list to discuss about it. I said to myself, this is wrong, let's
>> make it better.
>
> I understand that, and this confusion may have been one of the
> motivations for the conversation at OctConf 2012.  It stems from the
> choice of name Octave Forge, which is similar to the name SourceForge
> (whether that is the reason for the name, I'm not sure), and if I'm
> remembering correctly Octave development too may have been on
> SourceForge at one time.
>
> Even though the web pages for Octave and OctaveForge are fairly well
> organized, they might not be so descriptive about the relationship
> between the two.  For example, on the main page
>
> http://octave.sourceforge.net/
>
> it states "Octave-Forge is a central location for the collaborative
> development of packages for GNU Octave."  Nothing there implies
> Octave-Forge is closely tied in with the Octave core code
<snip>

Moreover, nothing on the main Octave web pages (www.octave.org) mentions
Octave-Forge anywhere, nor octave.sf.net, nor even the fact that add-on
packages for Octave exist at all and can be found on Sourceforge uhm...,
Octave-Forge.

Only indirectly, on the wiki linked to from the "Support" page, one can
find the first casual mention of add-on packages.

IMO this setup was a community decision at the time so I never bothered
much.

Philip

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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

c.-2

On 15 Sep 2012, at 10:52, Philip Nienhuis wrote:

> Daniel J Sebald wrote:
>> On 09/14/2012 06:53 PM, Júlio Hoffimann wrote:
>>> Hi Daniel,
>>>
>>>     There are three, maybe four levels of Octave code:
>>>
>>>     1) Core Octave written in C++ (i.e., compiled code)
>>>     2) Commonly-used, moderately-general m-scripts (i.e., interpreted code)
>>>     3) Compiled or scripted code related to user interface, whether that
>>>     be a graphics engine, GUI/IDE, etc.
>>>     4) Voluminous packages of field-related m-scripts
>>>
>>>
>>> Thanks for your reply. These levels are familiar to me, i'm contributing
>>> with very little patches when i have time.
>>>
>>> This week i started to use Octave Forge, precisely the optimization
>>> package. I found some missing headers during the installation and wanted
>>> to submit another patch as usual, but then i realized i should clone
>>> another repository, find another bug track system, subscribe to another
>>> mailing list to discuss about it. I said to myself, this is wrong, let's
>>> make it better.
>>
>> I understand that, and this confusion may have been one of the
>> motivations for the conversation at OctConf 2012.  It stems from the
>> choice of name Octave Forge, which is similar to the name SourceForge
>> (whether that is the reason for the name, I'm not sure), and if I'm
>> remembering correctly Octave development too may have been on
>> SourceForge at one time.
>>
>> Even though the web pages for Octave and OctaveForge are fairly well
>> organized, they might not be so descriptive about the relationship
>> between the two.  For example, on the main page
>>
>> http://octave.sourceforge.net/
>>
>> it states "Octave-Forge is a central location for the collaborative
>> development of packages for GNU Octave."  Nothing there implies
>> Octave-Forge is closely tied in with the Octave core code
> <snip>
>
> Moreover, nothing on the main Octave web pages (www.octave.org) mentions
> Octave-Forge anywhere, nor octave.sf.net, nor even the fact that add-on
> packages for Octave exist at all and can be found on Sourceforge uhm...,
> Octave-Forge.
>
> Only indirectly, on the wiki linked to from the "Support" page, one can
> find the first casual mention of add-on packages.
>
> IMO this setup was a community decision at the time so I never bothered
> much.
>
> Philip


This post on Carnë's blog summarizes the discussion about Octave/Octave-Forge/Agora
at OctConf2012. A preview of Agora is here http://agora.octave.org/.

HTH,
c.


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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

Júlio Hoffimann
This post on Carnë's blog summarizes the discussion about Octave/Octave-Forge/Agora
at OctConf2012. A preview of Agora is here http://agora.octave.org/.

HTH,
c.

I see Agora as another level of contribution, namely http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/.

In which users can submit small snippets of code, little functions and doesn't have to even know about coding standards - non-reviewed submissions. A place for users interact by submitting content of any kind, including blog posts, code, feature requests, discussions, etc.

Octave Forge packages on the other hand are much more like MATLAB Toolboxes, they're developed by MathWorks itself, and are part of the software atmosphere, really.

Júlio.

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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

c.-2

On 15 Sep 2012, at 12:18, Júlio Hoffimann wrote:

> I see Agora as another level of contribution, namely http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/.
>
> In which users can submit small snippets of code, little functions and doesn't have to even know about coding standards - non-reviewed submissions. A place for users interact by submitting content of any kind, including blog posts, code, feature requests, discussions, etc.
>
> Octave Forge packages on the other hand are much more like MATLAB Toolboxes, they're developed by MathWorks itself, and are part of the software atmosphere, really.

this is sort of the same difference we envision between different parts of Agora
it should be formed of

1) contributions from independent developers either in the form of single files or full packages
that are simply "dumped" on agora so users can download them (similar to matlabcentral but with more
stress on freedom, thus no restrictive terms of use)

2) a set of "core" packages developed/maintained by (or in strict collaboration with) developers of
Octave itself, following GNU coding and licensing directives.

This latter part will probably be named "the Forge" or something similar and sounds to me like it
is very similar to what you are asking for.
Suggestions regarding which packages should be part of the Forge have been collected on this list
some time ago, I'm sure you'll find them if you google for it.

> Júlio.
c.
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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

c.-2
In reply to this post by Júlio Hoffimann

On 15 Sep 2012, at 12:18, Júlio Hoffimann wrote:

> Octave Forge packages on the other hand are much more like MATLAB Toolboxes, they're developed by MathWorks itself, and are part of the software atmosphere, really.
by the way:

1) Most Octave Forge packages are not currently developed by Octave developers

2) Not all Matlab toolboxes are developed by the Mathworks

Having toolboxes sold separately makes sense in the proprietary software world where
it has the purpose of asking users to by additional licenses.

As Octave is free software this makes little sense, if you think the functionality of
some package is of general interest to all Octave users, and there is an implementation
that meets Octaves quality standards then you might just want to propose to add that
functionality directly into Octave.

c.
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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

Júlio Hoffimann
Agora is a good place to discuss about the packages, missing implementations, feature requests: the community feedback. But i still think the development efforts should be united in a single main repository, and people decide in what parts they can help.

By the way, Agora is very beautiful.

Júlio.

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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

Júlio Hoffimann
No advances here? We'll stay broken in two pieces?

Ok, that's sad.

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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

Juan Pablo Carbajal
On Wed, Sep 19, 2012 at 12:12 PM, Júlio Hoffimann
<[hidden email]> wrote:
> No advances here? We'll stay broken in two pieces?
>
> Ok, that's sad.

Julio,

I do not feel there are two communities. Join us in the next OctConf
and you will see it for yourself.
What you may be feeling is activity distribution self-organized by
expertise. There are people who are good and enjoy doing low-level
development (or general GNU Octave) like Rik, Daniel, John, Jordi, etc
(along etc!) and there are others who are more into the domain/field
specific code, me, Carlo, Carnë, Lukas, and many more. Of course most
of these participate in both sides.

The communication between the two groups is quite fluid. Besides we
are bringing together Agora (former Octave-Forge) and core, with the
website development. What exactly is what you find fragmented?

Cheers

--
M. Sc. Juan Pablo Carbajal
-----
PhD Student
University of Zürich
http://ailab.ifi.uzh.ch/carbajal/

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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

Jacob Dawid
I proposed to use collaboration platform like Open Atrium (free software licensed under GPL) already some time ago. It would fit this scenario perfectly, because users can register on such a platform, write something about themselves and then join workgroups dedicated to a certain task. So, we would have been a single community on a member level, but at some point working isolated in groups (each group has it's own bugtracker and wiki) depending on our interests. You can be a member of several groups, if you wish.

On the website of a friend and me we were setting up an atrium instance for our own, accumulated free software projects. You may take a look there to get a feel of what I mean: http://community.moon-studios.com/

The reason this proposal did not get any grip was that the octave site is hosted on Savannah and they only allow static pages. Open Atrium requires php.

I think there are valid points in having a separation as well as having unity.

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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

Juan Pablo Carbajal
On Wed, Sep 19, 2012 at 1:37 PM, Jacob Dawid <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I proposed to use collaboration platform like Open Atrium (free software
> licensed under GPL) already some time ago. It would fit this scenario
> perfectly, because users can register on such a platform, write something
> about themselves and then join workgroups dedicated to a certain task. So,
> we would have been a single community on a member level, but at some point
> working isolated in groups (each group has it's own bugtracker and wiki)
> depending on our interests. You can be a member of several groups, if you
> wish.
>
> On the website of a friend and me we were setting up an atrium instance for
> our own, accumulated free software projects. You may take a look there to
> get a feel of what I mean: http://community.moon-studios.com/
>
> The reason this proposal did not get any grip was that the octave site is
> hosted on Savannah and they only allow static pages. Open Atrium requires
> php.
>
> I think there are valid points in having a separation as well as having
> unity.

There are also two levels of discussion.

1. Is the community fragmented? I think not and gave my reasons before.

2. Are we using good tools to collaborate? I think the tolls where ok
until recently and now it is a phase of changes. Carnë have been
talking about migrating the package/module development and bug/feature
tracking for a while already. I tihnk if we want to do this
effectively we need a task force (a small group of people) that know
what they are talking about (this rules e out! :D) and implement the
changes using their criteria.


--
M. Sc. Juan Pablo Carbajal
-----
PhD Student
University of Zürich
http://ailab.ifi.uzh.ch/carbajal/

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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

Jacob Dawid

1. Is the community fragmented? I think not and gave my reasons before.

In real life not. On the internet: Yes. And this is what people from outside perceive.
 
2. Are we using good tools to collaborate? I think the tolls where ok
until recently and now it is a phase of changes. Carnë have been
talking about migrating the package/module development and bug/feature
tracking for a while already. I tihnk if we want to do this
effectively we need a task force (a small group of people) that know
what they are talking about (this rules e out! :D) and implement the
changes using their criteria.

I am okay with that, but I have a please for these people: You should really decide objectively. If you dismiss OA by default because you don't like php, this is not a real discussion to me. I really don't like php that much, too, but let's face it: It does the job and it fulfills our ethical criteria (it is not only free software, but also GPL). The same applies for the server this thing could be running on.

Jacob


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Re: On the union of two communities - The GNU Octave atmosphere

lukshuntim
In reply to this post by Juan Pablo Carbajal
On 09/19/2012 06:45 PM, Juan Pablo Carbajal wrote:

> On Wed, Sep 19, 2012 at 12:12 PM, Júlio Hoffimann
> <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> No advances here? We'll stay broken in two pieces?
>>
>> Ok, that's sad.
>
> Julio,
>
> I do not feel there are two communities. Join us in the next OctConf
> and you will see it for yourself.
> What you may be feeling is activity distribution self-organized by
> expertise. There are people who are good and enjoy doing low-level
> development (or general GNU Octave) like Rik, Daniel, John, Jordi, etc
> (along etc!) and there are others who are more into the domain/field
> specific code, me, Carlo, Carnë, Lukas, and many more. Of course most
> of these participate in both sides.
>
> The communication between the two groups is quite fluid. Besides we
> are bringing together Agora (former Octave-Forge) and core, with the
> website development. What exactly is what you find fragmented?
>
> Cheers
>

From the perspective of a user, I don't see any gap between the two
groups, if there are really two groups. :-)

One more observation from the point of view of a user seeking help.
While the separation of core (interpreter + basic things) and packages
(applications) for development makes sense, it's not that easy or clear
for a (newbie) user to know which list (octave-help or oct-dev) to go to
for help. There's in fact a lot of help content in the oct-dev list.
Maybe this aspect (of oct-dev) can be merged with the main octave-help,
that is, one octave-user (or whatever is a better name) list?

Just my 2 cents,
ST
--



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