[development] Very concerned over Drupal's core development

Dries Buytaert dries.buytaert at gmail.com
Mon Apr 20 17:33:49 UTC 2009

As core matures, we might see more patches getting stale.  I think the
reason is (at least) two-fold:

 1) More patches compete for attention, but fewer of these patches are
truly important.  In this case, patches getting stale is not
necessarily a bad thing because history has proven that important
patches will eventually bubble to the top for the right reasons.
However, I understand that it might be frustrating because it takes
longer, and some patches don't make it at all.  As a core contributor,
I think you have to trust that you patch will eventually bubble up --
it just takes a bit longer for people with the same pain point to
weigh in and participate in the review process.  It is also important
that you convince other people as why your patch should bubble up --
this is something a lot of people can get better at.

 2) Drupal is getting increasingly complex.  You already hinted that
the test framework increases the barrier to participation for aspiring
developers.  However, it is not just that -- things like the new
database abstraction layer, the registry, the form API, the new menu
system, the theme preprocess functions, load multiple and jQuery make
Drupal a better platform, but also increase the barrier to
participation.  As a result, fewer people are capable of reviewing
patches in great depth.  In ways, complexity is a disease.  We have to
strive towards making Drupal easier to develop for while maintaining
its functionality and flexibility.  Fighting unnecessary complexity
and abstractions is increasingly important.

Webchick and I have been pretty good at managing the RTBC queue.  It
used to be several pages long, but the last couple of months we never
had more than 20 Drupal 7 patches marked RTBC (as far as I remember).
We only have 8 Drupal 7 patches marked as RTBC at the time of this

But even today, with many patches in the 'code needs review' state
(not in RTBC state), core continues to be a fast moving target.  I
don't think we should speed things up, or we risk de-railing contrib,
and many of the contributed module authors in the process.  I think we
progressing at a good pace, and I think many important patches have
gone in.  Already, Drupal 7 promises to be a great release.

On Sun, Apr 19, 2009 at 10:38 PM, Karoly Negyesi <karoly at negyesi.net> wrote:
> Hi,
> I know there are many patches are written, reviewed and committed
> still. But, without intending to  critique of anyone in particular, I
> see a very dangerous cycle:
> As Drupal 5 and 6 are very good, rock solid releases, people are
> satisfied and very busy there, much less is the need, the drive and
> the availability for core development. This means less patches are
> written. Also core got bigger. Very, very few people touch
> actions/triggers, fields, filter system, openid or for that matter,
> menu just to name a few. Once a patch is written , it needs a review.
> However, the testing bot, curiously, made patch reviews even harder --
> no longer can a novice just install a patch, click around and report
> back "works" ( the testing bot, of course added a lot of quality to
> Drupal, I am not saying, down with the bot). This has very severe
> consequences: we always had too few reviewers and now the entry
> barrier is even harder as you need to do meaningful code reviews all
> the time. Low reviewer activity means patches do not get 'bumped' and
> they linger. Lingering is exacerbated by the loss of Steven and that
> the single guy who can call the big decisions now has a kid (soon two)
> and two companies to run. Of course, this leads to frustration on
> behalf of the patch writers and even less patches get written or
> reviewed and people draw back into their own little contrib empire
> where they call the shots...
> Regards
> Karoly Negyesi

Dries Buytaert :: http://buytaert.net/

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