2024.02.27 15:07 "[Tiff] Proposition for the creation of a libtiff project steering committee", by Even Rouault

2024.02.27 15:07 "[Tiff] Proposition for the creation of a libtiff project steering committee", by Even Rouault

Dear libtiff community,

The libtiff project has run for many years without a formal governing body, and while it has worked well for most of the time, when difficult non-consensual decisions have to be made, it has showed its limits. Recently this was the case for the removal in the default build of the retired TIFF command line utilities. Hence with a group of other stakeholders including me, Su Laus, Bob Friesenhahn, Leonard Rosenthol, Roger Leigh, Olivier Paquet and Timothy Lyanguzov, we are proposing to form a Project Steering Committee (PSC) for libtiff, with us as the initial members of the PSC. That committee would have voting powers to make decisions on behalf of the project. This is a structure that is heavily used in most of the projects affiliated with the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) in the geospatial field where I'm involved. A rather successful model for the working and scope of such a committee is for example the one used by the GDAL (https://gdal.org/development/rfc/rfc1_pmc.html) and MapServer (https://mapserver.org/development/rfc/ms-rfc-23.html) projects since 2007

Those rules have served well those projects in the last 17 years, and can handle situations where PSC members become inactive without formally resigning (the PSC can of course also decide to formally remove members that no longer participate). So we are considering taking strong inspiration from them for the working of the libtiff PSC. In the adaptations that have been discussed between us, the 2 business day minimum delay indicated for formal votes is probably too short given libtiff usual pace and could be extended to 5. For GDAL and MapServer, we also traditionally put adoption of release candidates as final approved releases to a PSC vote. It could be discussed if we'd want to do that for libtiff too. For the concrete mode of operation, typically in GDAL, when a formal decision has to be made, there is a first round of emails "Call for discussion: topic XXXX", and once the discussion seems to have come to a conclusion there's a "Motion: decision XXXX" where PSC members cast their +1, +0, 0, -0, -1 votes.

One advantage of the PSC is that difficult decisions are made on behalf on the group, which avoids them to be borne by individuals. Having a PSC doesn't obviously exclude trying to reach consensus among the broader community. Not everything needs to be formally discussed and voted. Normal bug-fixing or "small" new features can be dealt in merge requests as usual, and don't require email traffic. But removing tools or functionality, break of backward compatibility, or significant addition of new functionality are topics for discussion and formal votes.

So, this email is to gather feedback from the libtiff community at large to check if the idea of a PSC, and its proposed initial membership, makes sense. If people would like to be included to the initial PSC, they can (possibly privately) reach to us, so we can discuss this possibility.

Best regards,

My software is free, but my time generally not.