Fixing the Feature Process.


It has come to my attention, more than once, that the Feature Process, well, could use some love, tuning, updating, or perhaps just a full freaking refresh.  Some of this was noted in the FESCo town hall, and I’ve seen other commentary, such as Peter Robinson’s excellent blog post a few weeks ago.  I think in general, there’s a feeling of, “It’s a one-size-fits-all process, which isn’t fitting anyone very well.”

Generally, features seem to be grouping into one of two categories, although sometimes they fit both:

  • This is a cool new thing in Fedora, that would be awesome for Marketing.
  • This is a cool new thing in Fedora that needs to be really well-coordinated in order to avoid disaster.

While the feature process seems to work well for the former category, though may be more burdensome / deadline-driven than necessary, the latter category is where things seem to break down.  Last minute pushes that technically meet deadlines, but break other stuff that can’t be fixed by the deadline… things not being submitted as features that should have been… etc.

And so, dear readers: I’m going to invoke the 8th F of Fedora: FIXIT. (Other F’s include, of course, Freedom, Friends, Features and First, and the lesser known gems such as Fun, Fail, Fail Faster, Finance Friday, etc.)  Rather than lament on how things could be better, I think we should fix the feature process, or at least take a good assessment to see if it’s still fitting our needs, and if not, do something. (Please note that any fixing won’t be happening for Fedora 16 features, before you start screaming. F17, folks. Starting in late October. Fix the process now, implement it in the next cycle. )

I realize this is in the infancy stages.  In fact, I MAY BE WRONG ALTOGETHER, and the feature process may be just fine. But I think it’s worth investigating. Don’t you?

I’ve assembled a wiki page that I hope you’ll contribute to — the Fixing Features wiki page.   Here’s what I’m looking for, from you, because y’all are smarter than me:

  • Feedback about problem areas
  • Pointing out things that DEFINITELY DO WORK
  • Pointing out things that DEFINITELY DO NOT WORK
  • Specific examples of where the feature process went wrong
  • Suggestions for improvements

(Incidentally: What I’m not looking for? Flame wars, mean-spirited finger pointing, and  non-constructive criticism come to mind. Let’s work together, and not rehash the flame war of who-broke-what back in Fedora 8 or the like.)

If you’re interested in fixing this up, by all means, POST YOUR THOUGHTS.  I’m keeping the page open for comments through June 15, at which point I’ll try and concatenate things into some semblance of order, and start trying to round up ideas for next steps.)

Once again: visit the Fixing Features wiki page! Don’t post your comments here — trying to reaggregate them is a nightmare, and doesn’t very well allow for people to respond to one another on a wiki page for further information. However, feel free to blog extensively about what you see as some of the problems (or non-problems!), and link that on the wiki page as well — keeping this idea in front of people’s eyeballs and in their brains to think about is a good thing.

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