Any concrete plans after the GDB BoF?

Simon Marchi
Mon Oct 31 13:17:11 GMT 2022

On 10/31/22 05:28, Luis Machado wrote:
> Hi Simon,
> On 10/28/22 17:16, Simon Marchi wrote:
>> On 2022-10-27 06 h 47, Luis Machado via Gdb wrote:
>>> Hi,
>>> Having suggested a few topics for the GDB BoF (I noticed they were discussed, to some extent), are there
>>> any concrete plans from the GDB global maintainers (leadership? I don't know how to call it) to address
>>> some of those concerns?
>>> Simon was kind enough to cleanup the patchworks instance, though that is not yet fully integrated into
>>> something we can easily use to do tests/CI. I see the number of unreviewed patches is growing again.
>>> For example, it is not easy to pick a patch to review. You need to locate the entry in your inbox so you
>>> can reply to it.
>> I do not know of a way to trigger CI tests from Patchwork, that would
>> perhaps be a question for Mark (added in CC).
>> On a personal note, coming back from the Cauldron, I set myself a goal
>> to do more reviews as part of my daily work.  I'm trying to do around 1
>> hour a day of upstream reviews, and to choose what to review, I use
>> patchwork, sorting patches by oldest date.  I check if the patch I'm
>> looking at has already been reviewed, merged, or superseded by a new
>> version, and if so I update its status.  Rinse and repeat until I find a
>> patch that needs reviewing.  Otherwise, just looking at my inbox's
>> gdb-patches folder with thousands of unread messages, I don't know what
>> to start with.  Just by myself, I certainly won't get through the whole
>> list of patches pending review, but I think it is a somewhat fair
>> algorithm.  So in that regard, patchwork is useful for me.
>> I wanted to send an announcement on the list to say "hey, patchwork has
>> been cleaned, let's use it!", but I have been procrastinating since I
>> came back.
> I think those of us usually chatting on IRC are aware that you restarted it, so thanks for doing that.
> With that said, John Baldwin exposed some valid points. I also find the Patchwork workflow and interface odd and hard
> to work with. I can't simply pick up a random patch and easily review it like I did with Gerrit, for example. I need to go
> out of my way to find it there, look for the mailing list entry etc.
> I feel this goes a bit against enabling non-maintainers to do code reviews. The current workflow, though it works nicely
> for some, is quite limited and very prone to letting patches be forgotten at the end of the list. There are better ways to
> get this done these days.
> The PING mechanism, for example, is a burden. It is more manual work that you need to remember to do. On the other hand, if patches are
> archived in a good way in some system, it is just a matter of someone spotting it in a list and reviewing it.
> For instance, someone may have 5 minutes to spare. This person might go and look for a smaller patch to review, make comments inline
> and go off to do something else.
> In summary, even though glibc uses patchworks, it might not be the case it is the best tool for the GDB community. We seem
> to be short on reviewers (maintainers and non-maintainers). Enabling more non-maintainers to do reviews seems like a positive
> move towards a more efficient development process upstream.
> Some people admittedly don't like gerrit, but the tool has a lot of benefits, plus it integrates very nicely with Jenkins. And we need
> to have continuous testing back for GDB development, otherwise we risk having targets getting silently broken. It is reasonable to say one
> can't guarantee things won't break based solely on code reviews.

I agree with all you said.  However, there wasn't a consensus when we
tried to move to Gerrit a few years ago, not sure why there would be one

>>> On formatting, have we considered the benefit of using clang-format for GDB, therefore potentially saving lots of time
>>> in reviews not having to worry about formatting?
>> This often comes up, I am all for it.  We need someone to write up a
>> proposal of how this would work (a bit like Bruno did for the
>> attribution tags).  I might get to it, but I don't promise anything.
> I can do it. I know some of us tried it already. Tom Tromey seems to have done it as well.
> I think this is another step towards getting the contribution burden off of contributors. Formatting should not be
> something one needs to spend time with. One space x two spaces, 80 columns x 100 columns are certainly not as important
> as code that does what needs to be done and improves GDB overall.
> Also, there are lots of different code styles out there. It is not unusual to have GDB contributors doing other work on
> a project with different formatting standards. Having to remember formatting nits is not very pleasant nor efficient it seems.

I agree with all you said.  There is always some resistance related to
how clang-format handles this or that case.  In my opinion, that's minor
compared to the benefit of using it.  My opinion would be: make the
clang-format config that is closest to our style today, make a big
re-format, and carry on.  If there are some things that clang-format
doesn't do as we like, then we have an incentive to push to fix it.

I say "clang-format" here because it is the only tool I know of that
makes a reasonably good job at formatting C++ code.  If you know others,
please mention them.


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