QUIP 3 | "QUIPs for Qt" - QtCon 2016 Session Notes

Title:"QUIPs for Qt" - QtCon 2016 Session Notes
Author:Louai Al-Khanji


At the Qt Contributors' Summit 2016 in Berlin a session was held to discuss the idea of introducing QUIPs as a new process for Qt governance.

The general idea was introduced by looking at QUIPs 1 and 2, and by looking at some Python PEPs. The general feedback was positive. An attempt was made to identify the minimum set of work required to bootstrap QUIP, which was the main theme of the session.

The overall discussion is summarized below, in roughly chronological order.

  • Discussed background of QUIP, the process and the documents. Referred to Python and looked at QUIP 1 and QUIP 2 which had been prepared prior to the session.
    • The idea is to have a new git repository with the QUIP text files
    • Managed through Qt's normal work flow, currently gerrit code review
    • The maintainer of the quips repository takes on required editorial duties
  • Agreed that the text documents should be limited to 80 character lines.
  • Agreed that care must be taken to ensure that QUIPs are written in "proper" English so as to be clear, understandable and concise.
  • Talked about how a new QUIP is introduced. The most important thing is to reserve a number, which is the identifier of any one QUIP. The title can change, and is expected to do so from time to time.
  • New QUIP documents will go through a review process like any other patch to Qt. The author of the QUIP is responsible for logging this discussion in the evolving QUIP itself.
  • The important thing is to bootstrap the process. Once it is bootstrapped, it is possible to fine-tune the QUIP process through QUIPs. It is expected that this will happen.
  • The question of what goes into a QUIP was discussed. QUIP 1 gives a rough overview of the different kinds of possible QUIPs. It is expected that the content be further specified in revisions of QUIP 1 or in follow-up QUIPs.
  • Like any other part of Qt, QUIPs are living documents. They can be updated, amended or entirely superseded by later ones.
  • QUIP licensing was discussed. Python's PEPs are required to be either placed in the public domain or licensed under the Open Publication License. As the former is not possible in all jurisdictions and the latter has apparently been superseded by the Creative Commons licenses the CC0 license was suggested.
  • The minimum QUIP boostrapping process was discussed:
    1. Post QUIP 1 to qt-development mailing list for discussion.
    2. Arrange for hosting of HTML generated from QUIPs (ed. note: quips.qt.io has since been made available).
    3. Create new git repository to hold QUIPs.
  • The initial QUIP process was discussed:
    1. Author of QUIP finds the next free QUIP number.
    2. The author gives notice of new QUIP by sending it to qt-development, either inline or as a text attachment (things like this can be refined later through QUIPs).
    3. Concurrently the author pushes the draft to gerrit where further discussion can take place. This discussion must be described in the QUIP. If the QUIP is materially changed during review, the mailing list should be notified and given time to respond.
    4. Decisions are achieved through the same lazy consensus mechanism that is in place today. In that respect nothing changes.
    5. A final +2 from the QUIP maintainer(s) is required. This differs slightly from other parts of Qt as only the maintainer(s) can +2 changes to this repository.
  • Louai naively volunteered to convert existing material on the wiki into a series of QUIPs.
  • There was a question whether community guidelines could be described in a QUIP. The answer is a resounding yes.
  • The QUIP lifecycle was discussed. The following two items were explored:
    1. Superseding QUIPs. These are QUIPs that both change some mechanism described in an earlier QUIP and change the content of that QUIP substantially. For small changes existing QUIPs can be updated.
    2. Retroactive QUIPs are possible. That is to say, QUIPs can be written to describe a change that occurred in the past. For instance, an Implementation Track QUIP can be written after something has been added.

Community Reception

Following the session at the contributor's summit, the first three draft QUIPs along with a preview of the generated HTML content were sent to the Qt development mailing list.

The overall feedback from the larger developer community was positive. There was some concern that there would be added bureaucracy for no gain.

In the resulting discussion the topics "Why QUIPs?" and "What a QUIP is not" were briefly addressed. The overall view is as follows.

Why QUIPs?

There appears to be a tentative consensus that the mailing list discussions that were the main decision-making channel prior to QUIP often failed to arrive at clear conclusions. Often it was unclear when a discussion was over, and what the actual outcome was. QUIPs are meant to scratch that itch by documenting the result.

What a QUIP is not

Responding to concerns of QUIP being bureaucracy for bureaucracy's sake, it was discussed that the Qt governance model is not being changed. Instead, QUIP documents simply intend to document results of the existing process(es) in one place. It is not the intent that QUIP documents will be required for simple bug fixes or smaller feature additions. The impact on most Qt developers should be fairly minimal, apart from providing one place to look up prior policy decisions.