TL;DR: During the six next months, we will follow pull requests (PR) posted on the github mirror of the OCaml distribution, as an alternative to the mantis bugtracker. This experiment hopes to attract more people to participate in the extremely helpful and surprisingly rewarding activity of patch reviews.

Dear OCaml community,

I think we need more people ready to review patches proposed for inclusion in the OCaml compiler/distribution; lack of reviews is currently one of the bottleneck in the development process – among others, such as the sheer difficulty to reach consensus on any change to the language itself. Doing patch reviews is helpful, extremely interesting, and an excellent way to get to know more about small parts of the compiler.

There was a resurgence of discussions on caml-list (Yotam Barnoy’s moving to github and Adrien Nader’s thoughtful proposal of a mailing-list for patch review). Amir Chaudhry launched a poll to record decreasing order of preference, and the results are clear-cut: people hate Mantis’ guts, and would rather use anything else.

I declare open the following experiment: for six months, starting today upto late July, patches proposed for the OCaml distribution may be submitted as a pull request (PR) on the main github mirror, and we warmly encourage anyone to review the proposed patches, and make any comments they feel can help. Anything that can help improve the contribution, or discuss potential issues (backward compatibility, future-proofiness of the change, alternative designs…) will speed up the time between a patch proposal and a clear decision to integrate it or not.

In six months, we will reconsider, the default choice being to stop using github and revert to a mantis-only workflow. In the meantime, I will mirror the github PRs on the mantis side, so that contributors that do not wish to use the github interface can continue working as before. Patches and reviews are of course still welcome on mantis.

Note that github will not be used for issue tracking, only for patch reviews. If you want to submit a patch against a bug discussed in Mantis, or want to re-submit a patch already in Mantis (in the wild hope of more eyeballs), feel free to send a github PR and link to it from the bugtracker. Finally, the github mirror remains read-only: if patches are accepted, the PR will be closed but will be committed to the SVN first, and synced in git as usual.

We’re just trying things to see if it works better. I hope it does. In any case, thanks in advance for your participation – whichever tool you use. Happy hacking!


PS: If you want to get notified for all Pull Requests sent, you (need a github account and) can click on the “Watch” button in the top right of to register for notifications. In the [notification settings] page of your account, you can set up notifications to get send by email and/or to the (mostly useless) github notification web interface.

notification settings