Opportunity to Contribute to MacPorts

Marcus Calhoun-Lopez mcalhoun at macports.org
Sat Feb 1 15:39:30 UTC 2020

With Tanvi’s permission, I am responding to her email on the MacPorts mailing list so that others can join the conversation.


There are several ways to start to contribute to the MacPorts project.
It might help if you talked a little about your background.
Have you read the the MacPorts Project’s page for GSoC [1]?
The “Skills” section of you CV should allow you to contribute to any of several different components of MacPorts.
Are there any components that you are particularly interested in?

You said you were having trouble narrowing down an area to work on.
Some possible suggestions to get you started:

*  Choose some tickets [2] and try to fix them.
    Some tickets are open for a long time because they are difficult.
    However, some tickets are still open just because no-one has put any effort into fixing them.
    For example, “Base should know the installed version of the command line tools” [3] is fairly easy to fix.
    There is a PortGroup that already does much of the heavy lifting [4].
    I just have not gotten around to incorporating the PortGroup into the base code.

*  Choose some outdated ports and try to update them [5].
    Running “port livecheck maintainer:nomaintainer” give a (very long) list of outdated unmaintained port.
    You could try to update a few of them.
    You could focus on areas (e.g. mathematics) that are of particular interest to you.
    This would also get you a little more acquainted with Tcl if you are not already.
*. Fix an annoyance.
    You said you have been following the project for a few months.
    Are there any aspects that you think “there just has to be a better way.”
    For me, these kinds of things have led to interesting projects (and research areas).
    One fairly trivial example: several ports use something like “configure.env-append PATH=…:$env(PATH).”
    I have always thought there has to be a better way to do that.

*  See if there are any mini-projects that people have on the back burner.
    For example, I recently made a chance to the base code [6].
    I am fairly certain that it is going to interact poorly with with the legacysupport-1.0.tcl PortGroup.
    Again, I think the fix is fairly easy.
    It is just I have not yet gotten a chance to work on it.

Especially if you are interested in GSoC, it is helpful for you to develop a history of code, reliability, and working with other developers.
The most important thing is to work on things that interest you.
GSoC requires a fair amount of time and effort, but it should be an enjoyable experience.

Since you said you have been following the project, I used some MacPorts vocabulary (e.g. PortGroup) without explanation.
Please feel free to ask for clarification if you are unfamiliar with any terms.


[1] https://trac.macports.org/wiki/SummerOfCode
[2] https://trac.macports.org/report/1?sort=created&asc=0&page=1
[3] https://trac.macports.org/ticket/56318
[4] https://github.com/macports/macports-ports/blob/master/_resources/port1.0/group/cltversion-1.0.tcl
[5] https://trac.macports.org/wiki/SummerOfCode#orphanports
[6] https://github.com/macports/macports-base/commit/a86f95c5ab86ee52c8fec2271e005591179731de
[7] https://github.com/macports/macports-ports/blob/master/_resources/port1.0/group/legacysupport-1.0.tcl

> On Feb 1, 2020, at 7:17 AM, Tanvi Nerkar <tanvinerkar517 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Dear Marcus,
> I am a sophomore undergraduate student from Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. 
> I am writing to you to see if you could use my help on this project as I am very keen to help.
> I have been following this project since November 2019, and I have a fair idea of the issues and the way people resolve them.
> I would like to contribute to this project as well. I was unable to narrow down a specific area to work on, so it would be great if you helped me do that.
> If you are satisfied with the output I produce, I would like to convert my work into a potential GSoC project.
> Looking forward to a positive response!
> Regards,
> Tanvi Nerkar
> Contact: tanvin at iitk.ac.in | tanvinerkar517 at gmail.com
> Website: http://home.iitk.ac.in/~tanvin/

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