OpenJFX code review policies, etc.

Kevin Rushforth kevin.rushforth at
Wed May 23 22:16:49 UTC 2018

To: OpenJFX Developers

As I mentioned in a message last week [1] I would like to restart the 
discussion we started a few months ago [2] around making it easier to 
contribute code to OpenJFX. To this end, I like to make some concrete 
proposals around code review / API review policies.

Before getting to the details, I would like to acknowledge Gluon's 
contributions to the OpenJFX project, specifically those of Johan Vos. I 
am pleased to announce an expanded role for Johan Vos in the OpenJFX 
project. I would like to announce that starting now, Johan is 
effectively a co-lead for the purposes of setting direction, and 
approving new features for the Project.

The short version of the proposal is:

1. Formalize the concept of Reviewers with an initial list of Reviewers 
and a defined criteria for adding additional Reviewers.

2. Revised code review policies for different types of changes: simple, 
low-impact fixes (1 Reviewer); higher-impact fixes (2 Reviewers + allow 
time for others to chime in); Features / API changes (CSR approval, 
including approval by a "lead", plus 3 Reviewers for the code)

3. Streamlining reviews of changes developed in the GitHub sandbox: 
provided that the review policy is followed to before a PR is merged 
into the develop branch in GitHub, a fast-track review can happen 
pointing to the changeset that was merged and the PR, which has review 

Details follow.

Quoting from my earlier message:

> "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."

To that end, I propose the following policies. Many of these will 
involve judgment calls, especially when it comes to deciding whether a 
fix is low impact vs. high-impact. I think that's OK. It doesn't have to 
be perfect.


1. I recommend that we formalize the concept of Reviewers, using the 
OpenJDK Reviewer role for the OpenJFX Project.

A. I will provide an initial list of reviewers to the registrar based on 
past contributions, and also recognizing Committers who have become 
experts in their area. This is the only time we will have such latitude 
as the OpenJDK Bylaws specify the policy we need to follow for 
nominating and voting upon additional Reviewers.

B. We need to set formal guidelines for becoming a Reviewer. The JDK 
uses a threshold of 32 significant contributions. While we don't want to 
relax it too much, one thing I have been discussing informally with a 
few people is that a Committer with, say, 24 commits, who regularly 
participates in reviews, offering good feedback, might be just a good a 
reviewer (maybe even better) than someone with 32 commits who rarely, if 
ever, provides feedback on proposed bug fixes. I'm open for suggestions 

One thing I'd like to add is that we expect Reviewers to feel 
responsible not just for their piece, but for the quality of the JavaFX 
library as a whole. I might work with some folks at Gluon and here at 
Oracle to draft a set of expectations for reviewers.

2. Code review policies

All code reviews must be posted on the openjfx-dev mailing list -- even 
simple fixes. I propose that we have the following code review policies 
for different types of changes. I also note that if there is 
disagreement as to whether a fix is low-impact or high-impact, then it 
is considered high-impact. In other words we will always err on the side 
of quality by "rounding up" to the next higher category. The contributor 
can say whether they think something is low-impact or high-impact, but 
It is up to a Reviewer to initially decide this.

A. 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).

One reviewer is sufficient to accept such changes. As a courtesy, and to 
avoid changes which later might need to be backed out, if you think 
there might be some concern or objection to the change, please give 
sufficient time for folks who might be in other time zones the chance to 
take a look. This should be left up to the judgment of the reviewer who 
approves it as well as the contributor.

B. 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).

Two reviewers must approve to accept such changes. Additionally, the 
review should allow sufficient time for folks who might be in other time 
zones the chance to review if they have concerns.

C. New features / API additions. This includes behavioral changes, 
additions to the fxml or css spec, etc.

Feature requests come with a responsibility beyond just saying "here is 
the code for this cool new feature, please take it". There are many 
factors to consider for even small features. Larger features will need a 
significant contribution in terms of API design, coding, testing, 
maintainability, etc.

To ensure that new features are consistent with the rest of the API and 
the desired direction of the Project, I propose that a New Feature, API 
addition, or behavioral change must be reviewed / approved by a "lead". 
Currently this is either myself or Johan Vos as indicated above.

I also propose that we continue to use the CSR process [3] to track such 
changes. The CSR chair has indicated that he is willing to track JavaFX 
compatibility changes even though FX is no longer a part of the JDK.

For the review of the implementation, I propose that we use the same 
"two reviewer" standard for the code changes as category B.

3. Streamlining the review process for changes developed on GitHub

A fix that was developed as pull-requests (PRs) on GitHub is eligible 
for a fast-track review, if:

A. The PR was squashed / merged into the develop branch as a single 
B. No follow-on changesets were merged into develop as part of that same fix
C. The changeset is "whitespace clean" -- meaning that you have run 
'tools/scripts/checkWhiteSpace' on the final changeset (we might want to 
add this to the CI build).
D. All code review policies outlined above in #2 were followed prior to 
the PR being approved and merged into the develop branch on GitHub. This 
includes sending email to openjfx-dev when you first make a PR that you 
intend to have merged into the develop branch to give other reviewers 
who may not be watching all PRs a chance to comment before it is merged.

A "fast-track" review is a quick sanity check before the change is 
committed and pushed to the jfx-dev repo on This 
fast track review just needs to point to the GitHub changeset that was 
merged and to the PR, which will have any review comments. If there are 
no compelling reasons why the PR can't be pushed to jfx-dev, then it can 
be pushed.

Please let me know your thoughts on the above proposals.

Thank you all for being a part of this community.

-- Kevin Rushforth, OpenJFX Project Lead




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