[Ironruby-core] IronRuby community and communications

John Lam (DLR) jflam at microsoft.com
Tue Oct 2 12:35:58 EDT 2007


Wow.

I was enjoying my day off with my family and my brother who was in town visiting when I discovered this thread on my phone. It was fun reading things go by, but there was no way that I was going to try and respond via T9. But now that I'm back in the office let's begin anew to address some of the issues that were raised yesterday:

Charlie Nutter:
>> Are there development discussions happening on private lists,
>> say inside Microsoft within the IronRuby or DLR team? If so,
>> you should really think about moving as much of those discussions
>> as possible into the open.

When I first joined the company back in January, we had a regular set of F2F meetings called the DLR Design Discussions. Culturally at Microsoft, we do tend to do a lot of technical discussions F2F since, well, we all work within about 50 feet or so of each other :) Almost all complex code reviews and technical design are done in front of a computer/whiteboard in someone's office. Given a choice, like most people, we will take the path of least resistance.

That said, I do think that there are a number of things that we can do to improve how we communicate with y'all. So let's address some of the issues raised on the thread and then I'll summarize with some proposals at the end.

Charlie Nutter:
>> there doesn't appear to be any discussion about the runtime and
>> compiler subsystems.

Guilty as charged. Partly because of cultural things above, and partly due to lack of bandwidth in driving these discussions in the open. I did have the crazy idea of videotaping our design meetings, but I'm not convinced that's the best way of getting information out to folks - it's really unfiltered and if you lack context they're really rather useless. But wait until the end of this mail to see some ideas.

Curt Hagenlocher:
>> I think some of what we're seeing is a result of IronRuby's dependence
>> on the DLR -- which appears to be far from finalized, and which is not
>> going to be driven by the community at all.

This is true in the sense that the *implementation* of the DLR will not be driven by the community. However, the *design* of the DLR is absolutely driven by community feedback. The IronRuby compiler is technically 'community' insofar as the DLR itself is concerned, and there's been lots of design changes in DLR due to IronRuby.

Jb Evain:
>> I'm a little frustrated as well by this situation, and I'd like to
>> see more technical discussions *between MS engineers* on this list.

Charlie Nutter:
>> I heard five developers, but perhaps that was a couple testers/QA
>> as well.

I'm pretty sure that I talked about our org chart before, but here it is again:

Tomas Matousek: compiler dev
Haibo Luo: compiler test
John Lam: program manager

John Messerly from our larger team contributes code as well, but only between stints in his 'real job'.

Most of our discussions happen on the whiteboard in 41/5612. I agree that we need to fix this, see end of mail.


Some ideas:
===========

1. We hold a bi-weekly (soon to become weekly I think due to the # of times that I cancel it) meeting for the IronRuby team. We can make this available via a toll-free conference call # if folks want to dial into it. We can't do Skype etc. from inside of corpnet.

2. We can put together a weekly summary of changes to IronRuby/DLR so that folks can see the changes. Right now due to the way we sync with svn, we're losing some information from checkin mails.

3. In the same weekly summary, we can post about what we're planning on working on next and folks outside can chime in with status reports on what they're working on and how it's going.

I'd love to hear some more ideas about how we can improve our communications / transparency.

Thanks,
-John



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