SBlog - Challenge Lessons
Last updated at 12:53 pm UTC on 23 October 2003
This is a place to jot down a few notes about the challenge itself.
Group Interaction The challenge recruited participants by putting an open call out to the Squeak development mail list. Several people responded. Because the challenge is handled in the virtual world, and because this is the first such challenge, group interaction has been rather awkward.
First contacts were done through email. Notes and background were placed on this Swiki. The first group interactive meetings were held on the Squeak IRC channel. Obviously there are coordination problems. The first challenge group spanned four time zones, sometimes making it difficult to coordinate times to get together. Three of the participants are native English speakers, one Spanish. This is encouraged, but leads to a communication overhead. In addition, through miscommunication a member missed the first scheduled group meeting.
Before the challenge starts, it's imperative that challenge members understand how to use the collaboration tools. IRC in particular proved a little troublesome; most of the team members do not use IRC in their day to day work, and it's not trivial to set up a client for use. The focus should be on the challenge itself, not learning how to use different tools for group coordination.
Predefined Image One of the problem encountered in the challenge is to assemble a starting image that challenge participants on which to start their build. Originally, the moderator decided to build a preconfigured host, but realized that might limit the participants flexibility in package selection. As an alternative, an automated build script should be made available to build the base work image.
Unfortunately, this proved difficult for this challenge. There were a couple of reasons for this:
While none of these are major problems, each one adds up to make the challenge less interesting. Participants spent time configuring and working on things that were not related to the challenge, which was frustrating.
- The Squeak 3.6 image had just been finalized a few days before, meaning that a lot of the external packages had not been widely tested against that image.
- SqueakMap was undergoing a bit of work at the time, which made package loading a little more dependent on versions.
- New network support code was introduced in version 3.6
- Comanche (a HTTP server written in Squeak) had been rewritten. Different interfaces were exposed for tasks such as server startup in Comanche. This also affected how Seaside starts up.
- The Monticello FTP repositories did not work due to the network rewrite. While the fix was relatively simple, tracking down the problem was a waste of participants challenge time.