Contact software developers when adding a port

Ryan Schmidt ryandesign at
Wed Dec 15 15:47:43 PST 2010

On Dec 15, 2010, at 17:31, Joshua Root wrote:
> On 2010-12-16 07:37 , Ryan Schmidt wrote:
>> In private email and in the developer of obc expressed the desire to have been contacted both about the existence of this port and in regard to some questions that were raised about the port in that ticket that he might have been able to answer more quickly or more accurately than we were eventually able to guess.
>> I think his suggestion is a good one. I especially think it bears mentioning that when you write a new portfile, you should contact the developer and let them know that. This prepares them for the day that a user sends them a message that says "I installed your software with MacPorts" and prevents them from then having to wonder "What's MacPorts?" or "How did my software get in there?" If the developer has a list of places from which to get their software, this also gives them an opportunity to add MacPorts to the list, thus even improving our publicity. I realize I've done this for some ports I've written, but it hasn't occurred to me to do so when handling port submissions in the issue tracker, and it seems like maybe this is a step that should be handled by the port author, not the committer (though it would certainly be reasonable for the committer handling the ticket to remind the submitter to do this step).
>> The Guide doesn't currently say much at all about creating new ports. It says [1] "You may contribute new ports" and "Ports are contributed by following these steps". I think it would benefit from an introductory paragraph that includes a mention of working with or at least contacting the software developer, though I'm not sure what else the paragraph should say. Suggestions?
> I wouldn't want to be contacted by every single distro that happens to
> be distributing my software, just because they're distributing it. The
> nature of freely distributable software is that it's going to end up all
> over the place.

We've even had some software developers who were actively hostile toward the idea of their programs being used on a Mac. Those conversations were not a source of spiritual enrichment.

And yet, the developer of obc felt taken aback that we did not contact him.

It's hard to make everyone happy all the time, I guess.

I suppose the middle ground is for us to say that port authors *may* wish to inform upstream developers. Perhaps a good metric would be to check the developer's web site to see if they already list other ways their software can be installed; if they already list Portage or FreeBSD Ports or Fink or something, it's not a stretch to think they might like to include a mention of MacPorts as well.

> The submitter of this particular port did need to ask upstream about
> some things. If you want to write up something recommending that port
> authors ask upstream about any technical issues they encounter building
> or using the software, go ahead, but that just seems like a completely
> obvious and common sense thing to me.

That seems obvious to me too. In the case of obc, I don't believe the port author contacted the developer, and I think we did fine with the port anyway.

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