Call for Discussion: New Project: Developer's Guide

John Rose john.r.rose at
Fri Mar 13 05:04:28 UTC 2020

On Mar 12, 2020, at 1:55 AM, Martijn Verburg <martijnverburg at> wrote:
> We'd (MSFT) be very happy to contribute (our group is fairly new to
> OpenJDK, so it's good timing)!

Martijn, we are absolutely delighted your team is here!
I love some of the compiler explorations I’ve already seen
from you folks, such as Ludovic’s PIC work.

I’m going to make up a story which may or may not be
relevant to this thread.  I think it is.

Some hospital is gearing up to refresh its policy guides,
and a new doc shows up saying, “I’m fairly new to this
place, so it’s good timing to put me on that committee.”

Hopefully the new doc was on a similar committee in
some previous hospital, or has spent a few decades
thinking about hospital policy.  Even so, the doc’s
contributions will have to be adjusted to the needs
of the present hospital, and this will require that
the new doc spend a lot of time and effort getting
the feel of how things are done in the new place.

The most efficient way to do that is probably to
assist in some surgeries, work in the path lab,
and so on, to get the necessary local perspective.

How should the newly forming policy committee
respond to the new doc’s friendly request to be helpful?

In this toy example, the policy committee is somehow
codifying some low-level, everyday best practices that
all the staff of the hospital will be encouraged to follow.

Various outcomes are possible, the best being that the
policy committee highlights practices that everyone
is willing to follow, and that actually help.  The second
best is that, however mixed-up the committee’s findings
are, the staff can quietly ignore them.  Anyone who’s
ever served on a standards committee, or watched one
operate, can probably imagine less constructive scenarios.

I think a Developer’s Guide is something that should
codify our best practices as we understand them and
have lived them not only now but in some “significant
past” leading up to now (not all the past).  So the hard
work of creating one is to actually go out and measure
what’s been done, what’s worked and what doesn’t;
or if it can’t be measured, get a large amount of
evidence from experience.  Martijn, I’m sure you
get what I’m talking about, and that you have a
good idea of what you want to contribute.  I suggest
that you say more about this, more concretely.
It won’t be “You guys should just act like my last
project” but it could be more like “On my last project
I learned some stuff which is similar to what you
guys are about, and I think I can help clarify that.”

And I suggest the same to others who are responding
with a “count me in”.  This project will require (as
Liam Neeson might say) “a very particular set of skills,
…acquired over a very long career.”  It is not a starter
task, as far as I can tell.  However, I’ll give deference to
Jesper, who might have a different vision for this.

Is this message just the old guard circling the wagons?
No.  Nor are other messages the newcomers mounting
a hostile takeover.  People clearly want to be helpful.  The
important thing is adding value to our shared project,
however long we’ve been on it.

And, because of its wide impact, as a sort of policy document,
a style guide will inevitably require some steering from whatever
folks have global knowledge of the project, even responsibility,
starting with Mark.  That comes, usually though not always,
after long association.


— John

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