Clearing up the backlog

Things are looking good in the sponsoring queue.

First of all, here’s a quick explanation what the chart is about: to get changes integrated into Ubuntu if you don’t have upload access yet is quite simple: produce the change and get it reviewed by somebody who can upload already. After you’ve successfully worked with the reviewers for a while you can apply for upload rights yourself.

In the past we had times where we struggled a bit keeping up with the backlog of reviews. The way these reviews worked was that they all ended up in a queue and whoever of the developers had a bit of time spent some time working with the submitter to get the change included. The advantages of this approach are clear: the queue made it easy to identify what needs reviewing and contributors worked with more than one developer and learned from them in a very natural way.

To speed up the turnaround time we introduced the concept of patch pilots (it had been very successfully used by the Bazaar team before): somebody would spend a longer period of time not only reviewing the change and giving feedback, but doing their best to get the change ready for inclusion (forwarding it upstream, improving the fix, etc.) and identifying themselves as patch pilot in the main development channel, so whoever had a question about their submission could easily get in touch with somebody who did the review.

I’m very happy to say that this has been working out great. We are much better at giving feedback in a timely manner. This is also due to the fact that Canonical engineers who work on the Ubuntu platform are supposed to do at least a 4 hour shift of patch piloting once a month. Luckily many others like the idea as well, so it was not only a Canonical initiative.

So in addition to reviewers who worked on the queue in an ad-hoc fashion we have a number of people each month who regularly spend a longer period being available for reviews. This is awesome.

If you have a look at the graph above you might think “Oh no, the graph is going up at the end again!” but what’s happening is actually good news:

  • we have loads of submissions coming in each month (more new contributors and contributions)
  • you can see all the small spikes in the graph - that’s submissions being dealt with and new submissions being added
  • also are we cleaning out the big number of bugs with patches attached, they are pre-reviewed and added to the queue if suitable

We all know that it’s frustrating if you don’t get feedback about a change you suggested. I’m happy that we finally have good news for contributors: we care about your work and help you to get it in.

If you want to help out, here’s what you need to do:

Rock on everybody! You are all doing a stunning job!


522 Words

2011-03-16 12:19 +0100

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