Why I think about closing contributions to imag

This post was published on both my personal website and imag-pim.org.

I’m thinking of closing contributions to imag since about two months. Here I want to explain why I think about this step and why I am tending into the direction of a “yes, let’s do that”.

github is awesome

First of all: github is awesome. It gives you absolutely great tools to build a repository and finally also an open source community around your codebase. It works flawlessly, I did never experience any issues with pull request tracking, issue tracking, milestone management, merging, external tool integration (in my case and in the case of imag only Travis CI) or any other tool github offers. It just works which is awesome.

But. There’s always a but. Github has issues as well. From time to time there are outages, I wrote about them before. Yet, I came to the conclusion that github does really really well for the time being. So the outages at github are not the point why I am thinking of moving imag away from github.

Current state of imag

It is the state of imag. Don’t get me wrong, imag is awesome and gets better every day. Either way, it is still not in a state where I would use it in production. And I’m developing it for almost two years now. That’s a really long time frame for an open source project that is, in majority, only developed by one person. Sure, there are a few hundred commits from other, but right now (the last time I checked the numbers) more than 95% of the commits and the code were written by me.

Imag really should get into a state where I would use it myself before making it accessible (contribution wise) to the public, in my opinion. Developing it more “closed” seems like a good idea for me to get it into shape, therefore.

Closing down

What do I mean by “closing development”, though? I do not intend to make imag closed source or hiding the code from the public, that’s for sure. What I mean by closing development is that I would move development off of github and do it only on my own site imag-pim.org. The code will be openly accessible via the cgit web interface, still. Even contributions will be possible, via patch mails or, if a contributor wants to, via a git repository on the site. Just the entry gets a bit harder, which - I like to believe - keeps away casual contributors and only attracts long-term contributors.

The disadvantages

Of course I’m losing the power of the open source community at github. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I honestly don’t know. On the one hand it would lessen the burden on my shoulders with community management (which is fairly not much right now), issue management and pull request management. On the other hand I would lose tools like travis-ci and others, which work flawlessly and are a real improvement for the development process.

The conclusion

I don’t really have one. If there would be a way to include Travis into a self-hosted repository as well as some possibility for issue management (git-dit isn’t ready in this regard, yet, because one cannot extract issues from github just yet), I would switch immediately. But it isn’t. And that’s keeping me away from moving off of github (vendor lock in at its finest, right?).

I guess I will experiment with a dedicated issue repository with git-dit and check how the cgit web interface works with it, and if it seems to be good enough I will test how it can be integrated (manually) with emails and a mailing list. If things work out smoothly enough, I will go down this road.

What I don’t want to do is to integrate the issue repository in the code repository. I will have a dedicated repository for issues only, I guess. On the other hand, that makes things complicated with pull request handling, because one cannot comment on PRs or close issues with PRs. That’s really unfortunate, IMO. Maybe imag will become the first project which heavily uses git-dit. Importing the existing issues from github would be really nice for that, indeed. Maybe I’ll find a way to script the import functionality. As I want a complete move, I do not have to keep the issue tracking mechanisms (git-dit and github issues) in sync, so at least I do not have this problem (which is a hard one on its own).