Apache Infrastructure Team

Wednesday July 15, 2020

Promoting Podlings

The Infrastructure team is constantly looking for ways to do its work more quickly while maintaining the ASF standards of reliability, security, and almost-continuous availability. The more the team can speed up and improve standard processes that almost every project goes through, the better it is for the whole community.

   As an example, when a project starts out with the ASF, it normally begins as a “podling” in the ASF incubator. Here it can start to create its code, standard practices, and work methods in a development sandbox.

   Once the project develops a large-enough community of committers and contributors, and seems to be viable, it can request promotion to top-level-project (TLP) status. This is a great moment for the project and for the ASF, but it also used to involve a considerable amount of work for Infra.

   Infra Administrator Greg Stein recalls that, at the beginning, the promotion “process” was no more than a checklist of about thirty “fiddly steps”, each of which required someone to do one or several manual tasks during which any number of things could go wrong. It was considered great progress when the checklist reduced to twenty manual steps.

   Significant improvements included simplifications of tasks related to mailing lists in 2010 and LDAP simplifications in 2016, but even as recently as 2017 the promotion process involved an Infra team member’s engagement in many steps over the course of two or three hours. This is what each component required for the promotion of Apache Ranger that year:


promote2017.png


Between then and now the team has improved automation of the various steps, especially with the introduction of asf.yaml configuration files to simplify publishing project websites. In 2020 the same promotion process, for Apache ShardingSphere, took a grand total of four minutes:


promote2020.png


Infra member Daniel Gruno says, “The majority of the work is just a click of a button by the ASF secretary nowadays, and then the few remaining bits can take between five and sixty minutes to complete.” That range reflects the fact that no two projects have the same profile, system requirements, and performance expectations.

   These improvements in the podling promotion process are a good reminder of how important it can be to take the time to “sharpen the saw.”

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