[Ecls-list] Project status and changes (please read)

Juan Jose Garcia-Ripoll juanjose.garciaripoll at gmail.com
Mon Oct 7 08:54:01 UTC 2013

Hi everybody,

as you may have noticed, my level of responsiveness in the last months has
gone down to almost zero. At the beginning I expected it would be
transitory, but it seems that it is here to stay. The situation is such
that I decided to write this email, both as an explanation and also to
gather your feedback.

* First of all, ECL no longer relates to my own work. On the contrary,
other open source projects that I carry on (
https://github.com/juanjosegarciaripoll?tab=repositories) are more directly
related to my research and are demanded by my group. This is detracting
development time from the project, but there is little I can do, as that
numerical software is what feeds our bellies right now.

* Not only does my work consume most of my open-software development time,
but the job overall does significantly constraint the time I can spare for
the project. As group leader in a research environment with scarce
resources, I spend more time writing grant applications and bureaucracy
than I do in front of Emacs. Quite frustrating as it is, I only see it
worsening in the near future.

* The consequence is that the time I can devote to ECL has serious ups and
downs. In an environment of rapidly developing tools and libraries, this is
quite unfortunate, as the project may lag behind and become obsolete. This
is indeed what has happened with several of the ports out there.

* On top of this, there are a lot of frustrating things that I did not want
to care about but which are bugging me right now and also stealing time.
The first one is the license issue. I put out a suggestion to migrate to
MPIR because I knew that MPIR had an effort to stay with LGPL2.
Regrettably, I did not know that this effort was abandoned so that if ECL
wishes to upgrade to any more recent version of GMP/MPIR it has to migrate
to LGPL3.

* Another nagging issue is testing. You have suffered this in the past and
it still is a problem: my testing environment is broken and I do not have
time to fix it. Despite Anton's wonderful library, the fact is that it is a
heck of a problem to maintain several virtual machines and computers in an
uncooperative computing environment with frequent blackouts.

* Finally, on the one hand, there are many new upcoming implementations out
there, some with promising results and features that I do not have the time
to incorporate -- but which would be simple with resources -- and certain
forks are consolidating. On the other hand, despite ten years of
development, I have failed to aggregate any number of
*contributing*developers around this project. This may be blamed on
the community or on
myself, and it does not match the supportive and helpful user base that ECL
has always had, but the fact is that it is a problem and a time has come to
accept it [but please, I do not need your pity on the IRC channels, ok?]

Though I did not have time to develop, I had time to think, even if on the
bus trips and planes, and I came to the following conclusions:

* *I am resigning and opening the position of ECL maintainer for anyone to
take*. I will grant him or her with full administrative rights and full
responsibility over the project's future. No need to fork the project: if
you really feel you can make it better, step ahead and take it. I will
remain as a support developer and help you as much as I can.

* If no one takes over maintenance, I will *continue working as I can*,
when I can. This may be *unsatisfactory* for many of you -- if this is the
case, I am sorry, but that's all there is.

In this later case, the following actions are needed:

* I am not going to change ECL's license. LGPL3's restrictions on web
applications seem stupid to me and, as experience has shown, making such a
move will only make things worse. Already LGPL2 is a hindrance, but I can
live with it.

* This said, GMP v5 is insufficient for several platforms but I will
maintain it as it is. *On platforms where GMP becomes obsolete, it will
shift to building with "C"* (i.e. no optimized assembly code). I tested
this on Cygwin/64 and it works -- *indeed it is part of the source tree
right now*. If you need a better GMP, build ECL with the one that your
operating system provides and be tied to its license.

* I am abandoning things that I cannot support or that represent an
inconvenience. *CVS support is dropped as of now*. I will probably remove
the repository in a few weeks to enforce this. Git is working pretty well
on Windows, as I have been able to verify, and SF's git repository works
behind a firewall just nice, while CVS does not.

* On a similar line, if integrating third-party libraries becomes an issue,
they will be completely *dropped or frozen*. For instance, ECL may end up
demanding that *you* install libffi or libgc, leaving an old but working
version for me to enjoy building on Windows only.

* I am also *abandoning the effort to do extensive testing of ECL on
various platforms*. If you are interested on a particular platform, you
will have to build and test yourself and report problems through SF's bug

* I am *no longer providing support through the mailing list*, which is
relegated to discussing other topics on the development of ECL itself
--i.e. design flaws, patches, project future, etc. If you hit a bug, report
it through the mailing list with a reproducible case. If you need help,
hopefully you will get it from other users here.

I am sorry that things reached this point, but sometimes it is better to
accept reality than to fight against it. Now it is time for you to speak or
act. If you feel that this hijacks your interest on the project, there's no
worry: just say it so :-)



Instituto de Física Fundamental, CSIC
c/ Serrano, 113b, Madrid 28006 (Spain)
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