Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Databases Programming Software IT Technology

One Approach To Open Source Code Contribution and Testing 83

Posted by timothy
from the treat-warnings-as-errors dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Brian Aker, one of the core developers of MySQL, has written up a lengthy blog on how the Drizzle fork is handling both its code contributions and its testing. He has listed the tools they use and how they work with their processes. He also makes an interesting statement about the signing of corporate code-contribution agreements and how there are some, including Rasmus (creator of PHP), who refuse to sign them."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

One Approach To Open Source Code Contribution and Testing

Comments Filter:
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @03:58PM (#28214185) Journal
    I don't write code anymore. At all. It's not my source of income, and I value other hobbies higher.

    Yet I refused to sign an all-your-code-belongs-to-us agreement at my current employer, and almost didn't get the job because of it. The HR red-tape machine couldn't deal with a process exception, so the CFO of the company had to step in to resolve the issue on their end with their legal team.

    The reason I'm sharing it is this: the clueless HR drones are the ones enforcing the sign-it-or-go-away policy. If you're worth your salt, and the company management is good, they'll make exceptions. And from a principles point of view, you probably shouldn't work from a company that wants to enslave you.
    • by ClosedSource (238333) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @04:13PM (#28214371)

      "The powerless HR employees ..."

      Don't blame individuals for a systemic problem.

      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @04:49PM (#28214763) Journal
        My experience is, from stints at four employers (two of those very long stints) in the tech industry, is that the HR drones are, in fact, clueless. HR clerkdom is where you put employees you don't want to fire, but can't cut the mustard in other areas. Maybe this is a function of my previous employers... but I've seen it too many times to think it's not a normal situation.

        Yes, the problem is systemic. But clueless HR drones do, indeed, hinder resolution by not escalating when required, by not knowing how to handle exceptions.

        Interestingly, my one non-tech-industry employer did not have this problem. HR clerkdom was where they screened raw graduates for promotion to other departments, mostly as admins. If they weren't up and running well in 60 days, they got canned. That HR department was a pleasure to work with... all the fresh hires new to escalate immediately on process exceptions.
      • One can when they buy in and support that system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by internerdj (1319281)
      And from a principles point of view, you probably shouldn't work from a company that wants to enslave you.
      While this is nice in principle, nearly every company wants to enslave you and even those that don't want you to sign similar slips of paper to work for them. I love my job and they really don't want to enslave me, but when I came in I didn't have the leverage to not sign. Good for you that you were but for the rest of us: Odds are they won't bother with following through with something like that u
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by internerdj (1319281)
        Also on an interesting note, I had to sign an all-your-creative-work-are-belong-to-us agreement for my employer. When I went back for my Master's Degree my agreement to the student handbook essentially said all my submitted work was the school's property. Contractually I don't think I had the right to sign over those works to the school because I've already signed them over to my company. I wonder how that works for TurnItIn.com. Theoretically they now have materials in their database that I never had t
        • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @06:00PM (#28215635)

          yes, very interesting.

          If a court upholds the agreement you had that all your code belongs to the first contracted party, then all we need to do in future is to sign a legal agreement that all-your-creative-work-are-belong-to-us with your mum before you join a new company.

          If they side with the later, then join, and then sign with your mum :)

          If they agree with both parties... then neither have rights to the code that each has the rights to... if my head stops spinning, I think that means its all a load of unenforceable bo**ocks. Sign the agreement with your mum anyway.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Bromskloss (750445)

          Your school-versus-work situation made me remember that of a PhD student at my university. His PhD studies are financed by a company and at the start of the project, the university apparently signed over, to the company, the rights to any inventions that might come about as a result of the students work. However, and the company should have known this, according to Swedish law, the rights to the invention belongs to the researcher himself, not his university. So as far as I understand, the financing company

      • by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @06:51PM (#28216177) Journal

        I'm an employer.

        I'm going to offer good pay, full-time schedule, excellent (expensive!) medical/health benefits, a courteous and comfortable work environment, and in exchange, I want you to work for me. I have no desire to pay you to start up a competing company - do that on your own dime like I did. I don't care if you want to build a PHP thingie that keeps track of your MP3 collection, but if you come up with a useful idea while working on our products and decide to keep it for yourself rather than provide it, that would piss me off - it's my dime that you developed it with!

        I'm not asking you to never work for anyone else, I really don't care much what you do after you quit. But while you're working for me, I do expect you to (ahem) work for me.

        Really, what is wrong with that arrangement?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ezzzD55J (697465)

          I want you to work for me. I have no desire to pay you to start up a competing company - do that on your own dime like I did.

          I don't get it. What you pay him is his own dime.

          • by mcrbids (148650)

            When you buy something, you should have rights to whatever it is that your buying. It does not matter whether you are buying a CD, a car, or somebody's time.

            Think about it: if you paid somebody to clean your house, and they worked on their sister's car while charging you for the time, wouldn't you be upset? There you are, paying (your dime) to have some gal's car (that you don't even know) fixed. Sound fair to you?

            If I hire you to do something, I'm paying you for your time, and I have rights to that time. T

            • by jonwil (467024) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @08:50PM (#28217249)

              If you are paying me to come into an office every day and write code for you, you own the stuff I do whilst I am in the office and you are paying me. You should NOT have any claim to the ideas I work on when I am not in the office and being paid by you. If you want to claim ownership of the ideas I have on the weekend when I am not being paid by you, forget it.

              • I think I see the root of the problem here. I'm a salaried employee. As a salaried employee, my time is not bound to normal working hours. Theoretically that means I have to work till my tasks are done (sidenote: theoretically that should also mean that I should be able to leave work if my tasks are done despite not having worked a full traditional work week.) Companies have lately taken to this notion to mean salaried employees are essentially always on the clock. That means a company can hang you wit
                • I'm salaried as well; however, I make certain that any job I take does not have any rights to anything I do off-the-clock - e.g. not using company resources, or company time. And company time is defined any time I am allocating to the company per time sheet. If it doesn't go on a time sheet and I'm not at the office, it's my own time, my own dime, and my own work to own - not the company's. It's a pre-requisite to me for any job I take.

                  I have not problem with them taking the "rights" for what
            • by ezzzD55J (697465)

              Think about it: if you paid somebody to clean your house, and they worked on their sister's car while charging you for the time, wouldn't you be upset? There you are, paying (your dime) to have some gal's car (that you don't even know) fixed. Sound fair to you?

              Of course he has to work for you in the time you pay him for it. I don't see why you're explaining this to me.

              What I meant was that, once you pay him for it, he gets to do what he wants on his own time, on his own dime, even if that means starting a competing company.

              if you come up with a useful idea while working on our products and decide to keep it for yourself rather than provide it, that would piss me off - it's my dime that you developed it with!

              I understand, but I'm not so sure you can really say this reasonably.

              Econ 101, folks...

              I admit not having taken any official economics courses or anything, but is this really in econ 101?

        • by Chirs (87576)

          If you pay someone to work on X, and he comes up with a useful idea about Y while waiting for X to compile, should you own that idea about Y?

        • I have no desire to pay you to start up a competing company

          A *competing* company? Yeah, sure. That's a reasonable request. What about a non-competing piece of software?

          I don't care if you want to build a PHP thingie that keeps track of your MP3 collection

          I have to ask because a "PHP thingie" for personal use is one thing, but what about a useful piece of software which is clearly not related to your business in any way shape or form.

        • Really, what is wrong with that arrangement?

          It's not realistic, that's all.

          Programmers get dozens of ideas while working on whatever it is they're working on. What do you propose to do about it? Short of keeping their brains in a jar, I mean. They will share those ideas, IF they feel motivated and IF they work environment is responsive enough to new ideas. Is yours?

          I've worked in many companies who took a bit too much of the "plantation owner" approach towards the programmers, and then wondered why they nev

        • [...]it's my dime that you developed it with!

          It's about balance of power between 2 parties.

          If the developer more or less steals your ideas or time, he's doing you wrong.

          If you steel his ideas you did not pay for, you do wrong. An over extending contract enables you to do just that.

          As a consultant I often work on clients software but in the mean time I develop some stuff I want for my business and other customers at night/weekend. I've had very interesting experiences learning how to use things (technologies, products). But until now I've never seen a

        • by cervo (626632)
          1) If it is related to the work at work then yes you should have first right to it. Ie if you are paying your employee to work on an operating system and they develop a new scheduling algorithm then you have rights to it. However if the employee offers you the algorithm and you are like no it's not part of our scheduled project and then he goes on to develop it on his own time (without using any company resources) and it becomes the next big thing you can't go back and claim you have rights on it. a) note
        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by cervo (626632)
          P.S. You're an idiot
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Seconded.

      When I came to work for my current employer, there was an ambiguously worded section that could be taken to mean that they owned any code I wrote whether at work, or on my own time. I talked to the divisional controller and had a clarifying statement inserted to put a division between work done on the company dime, and anything I did outside of that. They didn't have any problem with that, and it hasn't negatively impacted my working relationship with anyone here.

    • by MobyDisk (75490)
      HR is not meant to protect employees. They are mindless robots, there to insulate the company from employees who might sue them. They just hand-down absurd contracts and rules, that everyone must constantly violate, so that they always have a leg to stand on when they fire someone. Blame litigious Americans for necessitating this stupidity.

      I had a similar experience to yours where I was joining a company and my boss, and his boss, overrode the standard contract when I refused to sign the non-compete.
    • by gambino21 (809810)
      I agree with your opinion about not signing an agreement like this, but I believe the blog post is referring to something slightly different. Many open source projects require contributors to sign an agreement that basically say that the code you are contributing does not have existing copyright restrictions. This is a little different than the employer/employee contracts that says all your code/work/ideas/children created during employment belong to the company. The contributor license at apache [apache.org] for exa
    • by Xtifr (1323) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @07:41PM (#28216695) Homepage

      I refused to sign an all-your-code-belongs-to-us agreement at my current employer, and almost didn't get the job because of it.

      They almost always have a place for you to fill in exemptions for code/inventions you already owned before coming to work for them. As a Debian developer, I always just fill in "Debian GNU/Linux" in the exemption spot, and no one has ever objected, despite the fact that that's a hole big enough to drive a dozen web servers, eight web browsers, thirty-two Content Management Systems, four word processors, seventy-five programmer's editors, nine complete GUI toolkits, thirty-six programming languages, four hundred and seventy three games of varying quality, twenty-one window managers, forty-five email clients, a partridge in a pear tree*, and Goddess knows what else through. I used to try to explain the truly massive implications of those three simple words, but everyone (HR, manager or engineer) always said, "that's fine, we don't have a problem with it", so I stopped bothering.

      Of course, it may help that I'm in California where employee rights laws are generally pretty strong.

      * all numbers just guesses--I actually think that Debian may have three partridges in pear trees somewhere in its repositories.

  • Saying that anything I invent or discover (or along those lines) during my time working at my company - and in my spare time I decide to make Flash games...

    Does that make my hobby-work belongs to a company that holds no interest in it? If it gets sponsored on a website could they claim rights?

    • by N3Roaster (888781)

      That depends on what the exact wording of the agreement you signed is. Could be yes, could be no. Practically, they probably don't really care.

    • A friend of mine had a great idea which turned into a great product (that you probably have several copies of, even if you don't know it) that turned into a successful company. Knowing his own limitations--he's a tech guy, not a business person--he effectively hired someone to take over the reigns. CEO, COO, CFO and all, so they could eventually go public.

      He stayed on as the president and CTO, and in the process of turning into a public-ready company, he effectively signed over everything. Once, over
  • Emoticons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AltImage (626465) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @04:35PM (#28214583) Homepage
    Is it really necessary to have 6 smilie faces in the article? I wonder how many also show up in the Drizzle source. I also find it interesting that the author opts for the less common "no-nose smilie face" :)
  • Marketing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ukab the Great (87152) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @04:48PM (#28214743)

    A drizzle is a display of rain that is rather unimpressive. Also, it's a prelude to heavy rain and getting soaked and miserable. On the Drizzle website is a picture of a rainy cloud, which at least in western cultures is an image associated with things that are unhappy.

    At this point in their project I think that some smart marketing is more important than nitpicking over code.

  • Seems to me Perl developers, among others, have been doing this for years. Where's the news here?

    • by chromatic (9471)

      MySQL did the same thing for years too. I don't think Brian would claim to have invented a lot of these things, but he definitely deserves credit for shepherding the project to take advantage of them.

It is better to give than to lend, and it costs about the same.

Working...