Visiting Indiana, quality and release schedules

I just got back from a short but great visit to Indiana University in Indianapolis, where many of the IU resources that work on Sakai are based. It was a combination of a staff meeting (Mary, Peter and Anthony came down from Michigan to join Megan, who was already there) and community visit.

On the staff side, we spent the most time talking about quality(!) and our release schedule. On the quality assurance front we discussed how to spend the additional budget that the Foundation has allocated for 2008. We decided we would start with looking for someone to help write test procedures and document test coverage. Test procedures make it easier for everyone to participate in QA and are a good starting point for automated testing as well. Before the holidays we spoke with rSmart who has started this process internally. Our approach will be to create a community effort, with a standard template for test procedures, so we don’t duplicate efforts. In the coming weeks you can expect to see a job posting for this position (a contractor position, in all likelihood) and more details about the community test procedure effort.

As for release schedules, you may know we’ve taken a different approach with 2.5, adding formal beta releases and release candidates. We created the beta_2 version on Wednesday and it should be deployed to the QA servers by now. Since beta_1 , there have been 71 fixes merged and 200 additional fixes have be verified in the same time frame. This is great progress, but there’s never enough QA work done. We’d like folks to focus on verifying the fixes that have been merged. Pitch in and help out. Or you can wait till your users find them 😉

Although it was clearly the right thing to do, the decision to delay 2.5.0 was made without much community involvement. In parallel, however, we did start a community discussion both on-list and at the Newport Beach Conference. There were a lot of great ideas tossed around and some tensions about whether a longer release cycle or a shorter one would be better. I’m pleased to say that we (and by “we” I mean Peter and Megan…Anthony, Mary and I had left for a lunch meeting with some IU folks) came up with a plan that I think meets most of the goals of proponents of both “groups” (an over-simplification, as found myself sympathetic to both points of view). The wiki page describing the proposal is beginning to take shape.

Release proposal

I’ve run out of space for talking about the highlights of my visit to Indiana University, which also included a Sakai Foundation Board meeting. Look for a post or two on those topics “real soon now”. Let me just say that the Indiana visit really helped solidify some ideas I’ve been thinking about regarding the requirements process in Sakai and how it can be modified to provide a more visible roadmap as to where we’re headed…


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