More community participation in JavaFX

Richard Steiger rsteiger at
Fri Feb 2 00:03:06 UTC 2018

Hi Kevin,

As a long-time observer of the OpenJFX project, let me put all my chips 
at this point on making builds more stable, bullet-proof, and automated, 
and give equal weight making them so on Win10 and OS/X, specifically, 
the same weight as is given to making building and developing on Linux 
work well.

Over the last 3 or so years, on at least 3 separate occasions, I've 
gotten a head of inspirational steam to try-out some new features (the 
latest being using byte-code engineering to radically streamline 
binding, rendering most of the current API obsolete, and hugely 
improving performance).  I then attempt to build the whole project from 
sources (not always required, but essential when it is) on Win10, my 
development platform of choice, and invariably get wound around the axel 
of no-longer published VS tooling, missing binaries, and other 
show-stopper glitches.

Like many potential contributors, I've got a day job, plus am trying to 
launch a garage startup, so my time is a very scarce resource.  I simply 
don't have the extra cycles to troubleshoot highly convoluted builds (of 
which OpenJFX is one of the worst I've seen), so my head of steam 
bleeds-off for another year or so.  Nor am I willing to switch to a 
Linux development environment, remap my motor memory, take-on care and 
feeding of another platform (Windows and OS/X suck enough time, and are 
essential for my business).  Every time I've hit this wall, I've puzzled 
over how the team has tolerated the situation, and moved on.

So, to be redundant, all the other issues you've so cogently enumerated 
pale in the face of development portability, starting with build 
stability and cleanliness on widely-used platforms.

Thanks for considering the above input.


On 2/1/18 3:26 PM, Kevin Rushforth wrote:
> 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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