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  • lenz 15:48 on 2016-09-12 Permalink
    Tags: collaboration, , contributing, , ,   

    Summarizing last year’s achievements and highlights 

    A while ago, I concluded my first year in the openATTIC-Team at it-novum. We’ve gone through a lot of changes and I am quite proud of what we’ve achieved so far. In many ways, we’re starting this project and product from scratch, and I’m excited to be able to contribute to this effort with my experience from past jobs, and to help shaping the future direction. I feel grateful for having a very enthusiastic and supportive team. It’s also quite satisfying to observe how the seeds that we planted slowly come to fruition, as the project begins to gain traction with a growing user base and developer community.

    For more details on some of the key highlights, please see my blog post on the openATTIC blog.

     
  • lenz 01:41 on 2015-12-12 Permalink
    Tags: contributing, , , python   

    signoff.py: A Mercurial hook to automatically add a “Signed-off-by:” tag line below your commit message 

    The openATTIC project is currently transitioning to adapting the patch contribution signoff process initially established by the Linux Kernel developers, in which every commit message is “signed” with a special Signed-off-by: tag line, that certifies that the patch contribution meets certain criteria with regards to ownership/copyright and licensing.

    The git distributed revision control system (DVCS) used by the Linux Kernel and many other projects actually provides an option --sign that can be passed to the git commit command, which will add the Signed-off-by: line at the end of the commit log message automatically.

    However, the openATTIC code base is managed using the Mercurial DVCS, which currently does not offer the same functionality out of the box. Fortunately, Mercurial is written in Python and is very extensible: it is possible to extend its functionality and modify the workflows via Hooks and Extensions.

    Much to my surprise, I was not able to find an existing plugin or extension that provides this functionality. So I took this opportunity to hone my Python skills and wrote one myself – signoff.py is a simple Mercurial hook, that will automatically add the signoff tag line below the commit message. Currently it is pretty rudimentary, I still need to read up on how to convert it into a proper Mercurial extension that extends the existing hg commit command, so the signoff process can be enabled by passing it as an option.

    To enable it, dowmload the file and save it as signoff.py into the .hg directory of your Mercurial repository and add the following to .hg/hgrc:

    [hooks]
    precommit = python:.hg/signoff.py:sign_commit_message

    If you have any suggestions or ideas on how to improve it, please let me know!

     
  • lenz 13:35 on 2015-07-16 Permalink
    Tags: contributing, licensing, ,   

    Creating a Contributor Agreement for Your Project 

    Back in the MySQL days, there was a need to have a contributor agreement that made it clear under which terms code contributions to the MySQL code base could be accepted. This was a requirement due to the dual-licensing model of MySQL, under which the software was available both under the GPL and a proprietary license.

    This agreement was further refined when MySQL was acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2008, which resulted in the “Sun Contributor Agreement” (SCA), which was used for all Open Source projects that were sponsored/governed by Sun Microsystems (e.g. OpenOffice.org, Java, etc.).

    The text of the agreement itself was licensed under a creative commons license (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported), and it was later used as the basis for contributor agreements of several other Open Source Projects, e.g. MariaDB or OwnCloud (even though both fail to give proper attribution to the original). In fact, the agreement still exists as the Oracle Contributor Agreement today, after Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle in 2010. If you would like to submit a patch to MySQL, you first need to get your name on the OCA Signatories List.

    While doing some research on creating such a contributor agreement for openATTIC, I was pointed to this very useful resource: http://contributoragreements.org/

    “Contributor agreements are agreements between an open source or open content project and contributors to the project that set out what the project can do with the respective contribution: code, translation, documentation, artwork, etc. The purpose of such agreements is to make the terms under which contributions are made explicit and thereby protect the project, the users of the project’s code or content, and often the contributors themselves. Contributor agreements provide confidence that the guardian of a project’s output has the necessary rights over all contributions to allow for distribution of the product under either any license or any license that is compliant with specific principles.”

    The nice part about this web site: it provides a guided Contributor License Agreement Chooser that allows you to compile a custom agreement based on the requirements (e.g. Copyright assignment, Patent clauses) that you define, similar to the Creative Commons License Chooser, where you can select the terms and conditions of your license to be guided to the appropriate choice.

    So in case your project needs a contributor agreement, please don’t re-invent the wheel and consider making use of this site instead! There are way too many custom agreements floating around already…

     
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