Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Why Roundup needs a router?

http://bugs.python.org/ is powered by ancient software. Most people nowadays won't install it. They would rather find something newer, with more features (consumers) or invent something from scratch that will be more modern from the start (makers).

How about trying a different approach - how about an approach that means constant evolution of the software? The reason why people reinvent things from scratch is because they often can not understand the complexity of what was already written. The burden of complexity is like tar that glues us to the surface, needs more force to take a step and slows us down. One way to get rid of it is to start again clean. But there is no guarantee that the same story won't happen if you couldn't see past complexity before.

A way of evolution is to face the complexity and deal with it. The way to deal with complexity tar is to learn to fly over it. Visualization, art, story-telling are helping to people to overcome limitations of our attention, interest, motivation and focus. There are tools to make complex things simple, there are things to look at the surface from above and choose a path that is still unexplored.

Router is a component that directs URL request to processing. Router says that http://../file142 should be processed by function that handles files, and http://../issue42 should be handled by function that processes issues. This logic is hardcoded into Roundup, so its URL structure doesn't change. If Roundup had this router, then it could be used as a replacement for existing trackers without breaking links. Router also allows Roundup extensions add new endpoints, such as ones required for OAuth2 processing or REST and ajax interface.

So, how to evolve software? It takes media and coordination skills first, and code review and design second. Additional code that makes code more complex should be backed up by documentation that explains it, every lengthy documentation that gives details should be accompanied by concise overview and reminder picture, every yak shaving process should be automated, every upstream tools need to be improved. Evolution is a global process, and it is hard (if not impossible) to evolve one agent if the whole ecosystem is not changing. Changing ecosystem or tools that are already stable like Python require process shift that drastically changes how people coordinate, approve, mutate and select the branches with features that comfort them.

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