[sword-devel] On the need for regular releases of Sword libs

Karl Kleinpaste karl at kleinpaste.org
Wed Aug 29 19:19:53 MST 2007

I write here today as a sort of /agent provocateur/, hoping to get a bit
of a rise out of...well, somebody, possibly several somebodies.  The
formal idea of an /agent provocateur/ is someone actually in opposition
to the organization's goals; that is not me, that is, I am of course
supportive of Sword.  But I am explicitly hoping to provoke conversation
and debate, and possibly argument, but ultimately action.

In roughly 6 weeks, an entire year will have passed since the release of
1.5.9.  Since that time, 3 or 4 releases of BibleTime have come out, 7
releases of GnomeSword (none since March), 2 releases of MacSword, and
(based on Crosswire front page info) at least a couple of BibleDesktop.

We of GnomeSword have been in a holding pattern before making our next
release for a while now, hoping for 1.5.10 to come out, which will
provide certain needed bits of substructure that are available today
only to those who build Sword for themselves out of SVN.  I know that
the BibleTime folks are in a similar position.

As a wide-view matter of project policy, just-once-per-year release of
the underlying substrate upon which the UIs depend is simply nowhere
near often enough.  Shortly after the release of 1.5.9, the problem of
bugs in "&entity;" handling arose; a number of other bugs have been
fixed, e.g. related to matters such as morph output, and a number of
formatting glitches; several small but important (to us) features have
been added, such as <figure>/<img> linkages for our UIs which handle
graphical content.  And we, and more importantly our users, are being
held back, in a practical sense, because no one can get at these
features and bugfixes if they depend on the mere yearly releases of
Sword.  Rather few folks are motivated to build backend libraries on
their own, but everybody would be happy to upgrade automatically using
their systems' package managers, if only there was something to upgrade.

I know that this is technically volunteer work for all of us.  I know
that we do it when we have both motivation and time.  I know that Troy
in particular has had a hard school schedule and that the demands on him
for that are high.  But on the other hand, I know that people actually
do the things in which they invest themselves.

Shortly after the initial call for 1.5.10 -- already 10 weeks in the
past -- on request I filed a half dozen bug reports for things I knew
needed attention.  Troy and I spent a little time on 2 of them; as far
as I know, the other 4 have received no attention at all, and none have
achieved resolution.

At this point, what I believe is needed in the short term is a new
release "right away" (interpret those words in some appropriately fuzzy
fashion) in order to get as much benefit as is immediately available
from today's SVN.  Call it 1.5.10, or call it 1.5.9a if you like, but
*call it*, and soon.

For the long term, I believe a more stringent, regular schedule for
advancement and release is very badly needed.  Today's offhand,
imprecise, uncertain, when-we-feel-like-it, when-we-get-around-to-it
attitude is definitely hurting the projects, and makes all the projects
unhealthy to one degree or another.  Indeed, and frankly, it is
unprofessional.  It makes the rest of us delay our work.  It makes our
work appear to be of lower quality than it ought by rights to appear,
because the improvements to the substrate that will make our work look
good continue to be unavailable.


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