More community participation in JavaFX

Michael Ennen mike.ennen at
Thu Feb 1 23:58:52 UTC 2018

I think that having a public sandbox mirror on GitHub, as you mentioned, is
a great idea.

The idea is that PRs could be opened and the test suites could be run using
CI for the
platforms supported by JavaFX. The PR itself would never be directly merged
into the
OpenJFX hg repository. Instead the PR would be a launching point that
provides a means
for review and feedback. Once all feedback is taken into account, the PR
can be marked
as "Ready" which means it is ready to move up to the more formal review
already in place. Automating the creation of a webrev for the PR, as well
as converting
the git PR to a mercurial one would make the process streamlined and

I only mention GitHub because I think it would allow for the smallest
barrier of entry and
cast the widest net of potential contributors. Setting up this mirroring
infrastructure wouldn't
be a simple task but it is very doable IMO. I messed around with creating
Travis and Appveyor
CI builds for openjfx and besides running up against a 45 minute time limit
I didn't encounter
any show-stoppers.

I believe we need such a sandbox to act as a "staging ground" or an adapter
between the
high barrier to entry and first-time or new contributions. The only way it
would work,
in my opinion, is that there is a vibrant community of reviewers who, in
their free time,
help get the PRs in shape to move to the next level (which is the more
formal processes
that already exist, as you mentioned).

Thanks for starting this important discussion, Kevin.

-- Michael Ennen

On Thu, Feb 1, 2018 at 4:26 PM, Kevin Rushforth <kevin.rushforth at>

> To: OpenJFX Developers
> We are looking to grow the community of contributors to the OpenJFX
> project, especially serious contributors who will stick around long enough
> to become reviewers, to help us keep the platform vibrant. To this end we
> are looking at ways to encourage more participation and make it easier for
> interested folks to contribute.
> We are specifically looking to discuss ideas around the following areas:
> * Easing barriers to contribution (e.g., making JavaFX easier to build,
> better documentation, making it easier to test changes)
> * Code review policies
> * API / feature review policies
> * Code review tools (we currently use webrev, but that isn't set in stone)
> To keep this thread productive, the following are explicitly out of scope:
> * Discussion of specific features or bugs that you would like to implement
> (or wish someone else would)
> * Discussion about platform support
> * Discussion about version control systems (e.g., hg versus git), hosting
> of the OpenJFX repos and bug database (e.g., OpenJDK versus github),
> least for now. We are aware of the potential benefits of such
> changes, but we'd like to focus our efforts on higher-leverage things we
> can do in the short term.
> * Discussion about the requirement of a signed OCA to become a contributor
> * Off-topic or tangential commentary about OpenJFX that isn't directly
> related to the topic at hand
> As a starting point for discussion, here are some areas I think need
> improvement; I'm sure there are others:
> I. Helping contributors get started
> It isn’t as easy to get started with OpenJFX as it should be. We want to
> make it easier for potential OpenJFX contributors to get started. Here are
> some ideas that I think might help:
> * Improve the build instructions / Wiki (I made a first start, but there
> is much more to be done)
> * Make the build itself more resilient where possible, and provide better
> error messages, specifically when dealing with native compilers and
> libraries
> * Add an option to skip building all native code and use prebuilt binaries
> (like we do already for media and webkit); this is tracked by JDK-8092279,
> but it hasn’t been looked at recently
> * Make it easier to build / test your local OpenJFX build using an OpenJDK
> build (currently the only way to do this is to build OpenJDK locally, after
> using configure to point to your just-built javafx.* modules).
> * Provide step-by-step instructions for how to make a contribution,
> including testing requirements; a lot of the pieces are there, but are out
> of date or scattered in several places. As part of this, we could have a
> section on how to contribute docs, samples or tests, since that is often a
> good place to start.
> * Provide a sandbox environment where contributors can discuss and test
> ideas. For example, an OpenJFX mirror on github, potentially connected to
> AdoptOpenJDK.
> II. Code reviews and API reviews
> Code reviews are important to maintain high-quality contributions, but we
> recognize that not every type of change needs the same level of review.
> Without lowering our standards of quality, we want to make it easier to get
> low-impact changes (simple bug fixes) accepted.
> There are three categories of changes, each of which might merit a
> different review standard:
> 1. Low-impact bug fixes. These are typically isolated bug fixes with
> little or no impact beyond fixing the bug in question; included in this
> category are test fixes (including new tests) doc fixes, and fixes to
> sample applications (including new samples).
> 2. Higher impact bug fixes or RFEs. These include changes to the
> implementation that potentially have a performance or behavioral impact, or
> are otherwise broad in scope. Some larger bug fixes will fall into this
> category, as will fixes in high-risk areas (e.g., CSS).
> 3. New features / API additions. In addition to reviewing the
> implementation, we will need a separate approval process for the new API /
> feature (such as the CSR, which is what we use now, or a similar process).
> We take compatibility seriously, so anything that adds new API needs to be
> done with an eye towards supporting it for at least 10 years. We don't want
> to add new public API without that level of commitment. Every new feature
> forecloses on alternate future features. Significant effort must be taken
> to think about "if we did this, what could it interact with in the future?"
> Also, anything with a large potential impact on performance or behavioral
> compatibility needs to be looked at carefully.
> Put another way, we want to encourage thinking about new features or new
> API in terms of a design / stewardship process; to think in terms of
> questions like "what's the right thing for JavaFX in the next 10+ years"
> rather than "here's some code that solves my problem, please take it".
> As a stake in the ground, I might suggest the following:
> * All changes need at least one reviewer other than the person making the
> change who can evaluate the change for correctness and consistency. For
> simple bug fixes, a single reviewer may be sufficient. Of course, one of
> our big challenges in all this is: "how do we grow more reviewers?", by
> which I mean "how do we facilitate getting contributors with enough
> expertise in a given area to eventually be able to effectively review
> contributions from others?"
> * We need clear criteria for the other two categories that balance process
> efficiency with the desire to maintain compatibility and stability. API
> changes need to be approved by a lead. My thought is to combine the last
> two into a single category for purposes of reviewing the implementation.
> Anything that affects public API or behavioral compatibility will require
> CSR or similar approval, over and above the implementation review, which
> seems sufficient.
> * I recommend that we formalize the concept of reviewers, using the
> OpenJDK Reviewer role for the Project. We might also consider if we want to
> make any changes to the criteria used by the JDK Project for becoming an
> OpenJFX Project Author, Committer, and Reviewer. The OpenJDK bylaws allow
> projects a fair degree of latitude to define these criteria, so we might
> consider making some modifications. For example, we might make it somewhat
> easier for a Contributor to become an Author, or for a Committer to become
> a Reviewer. I have some thoughts on this, but want to hear from others
> first.
> I look forward to feedback on this proposal, and hope it will spark a
> productive discussion.
> -- Kevin Rushforth, OpenJFX Project Lead

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