Apache Considered Harmful

A recent article by Mikeal Rogers about the Apache Software Foundation’s outmoded idea of open source contributions struck a chord with me.

Some time ago I submitted a pull request to Flume, making a very minor change to get something to compile again after code reorganization had broken it. About a week later, I got a comment from one of Cloudera’s engineers saying that the patch looked good, but that since they were in the process of moving to Apache Incubator, could I follow some extra steps. The extra steps (create an account on Cloudera’s JIRA issue tracker, create an issue for the bug, generate a patch for my change and attach it to the issue) weren’t terribly onerous, but considering I had already moved on (and in fact had decided not to use Flume for my project), and had real work to get done, I put it on the back burner and eventually forgot all about it.

The genius of git and GitHub is how easy it is to contribute to projects. Fork, fix, submit. I submit patches to projects all the damn time because barrier to contribution is so low. Like most developers, I’ve got a job that keeps me busy, and any roadblocks big enough to take me out of my flow are usually going to stop me.

Someone more patient than I submitted a “proper” patch for my Flume issue about a month later, so my conscience is clear. I hope, however, that the ASF eventually embraces the new open source reality. Their software will be better for it.