[IPython-dev] Should I still contribute to IPython ?

Matthias BUSSONNIER bussonniermatthias at gmail.com
Mon Dec 17 12:48:49 EST 2012

Dear User and Dev, 

This morning I received an personal email from one of our user with the
following inside:

> I was wondering whether my involvement in the development […] make too much
> sense now, that IPython has received a grant for the next two years, […]  it
> seems that there are going to be a number of people on the team, who are very
> proficient, […] and I wouldn't be able to contribute too much, anyway.

I realized, that even we got a lot a congratulation mails after the announce of the grant,
we didn't get any expression of concern or questions on what will happened, this was 
a little less the case on hacker-news.

What's follow is my personal opinion, how I feel about the development of
IPython over the past Year.  Because I feel it is important to tell that
being founded will not change how we work, will not change the people.

So as you may know, IPython did receive a Sloan Foundation Grant for the next
two years, that will help the development of IPython, But this does not mean we
will ever cut ourselves from our user bases. 

First of all, being in the core development team does not necessarily mean we
will get any money from the grant.  Some of the current core team dev will be
"hired" to work part or full time on IPython. Personally I won't, even if I were
paid for that it wouldn't change what I would be doing (just maybe my schedule).

This will not prevent me from fixing bug and bring improvement to IPython.  Nor
will I assume that Devs that are paid from this grant have more obligation to
fix bugs or answer to question than I am.

Being a core dev does not mean that we are more capable than any other
user of the list. There is no official way to become a core dev, but
empirically, I would say that when you submit (or review) too many good pull 
request we give you the responsibility  to merge others'.

One of the things that make IPython so great is that we develop things that we
use, I do make patches for IPython because I feel the use for it in my work,
the diversity of people that contribute and use it make IPython what it is now :
If we look a the opened PR, we see that more than the half are opened by people
that are not in the core team, and *big* PR are in this big half.

You might be concern to not being able to keep up with something some
could do in minutes, and I guess this is the main concern most of you have. I
reassure you we will alway take time to guide you to make a PR. 

I first contributed 1 Year ago, from an ~10 lines change that took me a week to
write, I had kind words from fperez, epatters, and minrk to explain me how to
do things they could have done in 10 minutes tops.

Now I do the same for every pull request from users. Even if fixing a bug would
take me less time than writing the explanation for an user, I still write the
explanation and help do the right thing even for one line. I do strongly
believe that this is worth doing in the long run. And I know that I am not the
only one that will keep up doing so as long as he can. Often the most difficult 
thing is to know the code base, not actually writing the patch, and nothing but 
time helps that.

Heck, the Sloan-Foundation almost exclusively give to project linked to
education, if we can't be good teacher, how could build a tool to help other to
teach ?

So yes I will continue to contribute, on my free time, I hope I'll find some
way to get more time to be involve. Yes the development will probably go
faster, and there are things I won't be able to follow, but even now, I already
discover that some stuff had been added to IPython during the week that I
wasn't aware of, and I'm convinced there are still room for all kind of
contribution, from QTconsole UI to big AST hook to do amazing stuff I don't
even dream of.

Hopping to have convince you that we will not change, and that you will continue to 
bring us big surprises with awesome idea and PRs.

Thanks to all of you, also and especially to Fernando without whom IPython 
would not exist today. 

Sorry for the length, 

[Grant announce on HN] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4909070
And a small link, also from hacker news to conclude :
[Dear Open Source Project Leader: Quit Being A Jerk] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4921152 
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