You may have noticed this blog (is it still fashionable to call something a blog or am I 15 years out of phase?) was silent for a while. The reasons for that are multiple, I’m going to blame mostly two things. One, the Factorio game. It’s a great game, which is the actual problem ‒ it demands a lot of time. The latter is some kind of feeling of being tired. I suspect this is more about both my day job and being winter time (are there actually people who don’t need 14 hours of sleep a day during the winter?) than Rust itself, but I was still thinking about what the reasons are.
What I’ve noticed is, the whole ecosystem feels somewhat less vital and more tired than a year or two ago. It might be just my perspective. But it might also be something related to this idea that programmers come in two flavors ‒ Conquerors and Stewards. Unfortunately, I seem unable to find the original article now (if you know where it is, please let me know, I’ll link it here), but the gist was that Conquerors like to explore new things, move fast, break things and they tend to leave some unfinished mess behind when they move onto something new. Stewards like to nurture the code base. Both are valuable when applied to the right problem.
So if you’re a Conqueror, you’re likely to build a library, maybe give it
reasonably good documentation, throw some examples in, keep it maintaining for a
while. But once you release something like
0.3.14, you notice that it’s no
longer as much fun because there’s nothing interesting happening and you move
onto something little bit different.
If you are a Steward, you care about the day to day quality of life of the library. You make sure the CI is in great state. You take care that every new contributor feels welcome. You improve the documentation and fine-tune the API so it feels fully natural to use.
While I’m probably not a 100% Conqueror ‒ I don’t like leaving mess behind, I still prefer the exploratory phase. I think a lot of libraries that feel somewhat unfinished and abandoned over the ecosystem might be result of something like this, lots of people around the younger Rust are more of a Conqueror.
Enough of the chatter
This isn’t supposed to be only philosophical rambling. I’ve came to conclusion that it’s not healthy for me to pretend to myself that I’m maintaining some 20 crates while it’s not really true. I wanted to admit to myself which libraries I intend to keep even as a Steward (polishing, bringing them to 1.0, …), which I want to hand over to someone else and which ones are probably just dead already. I want to do some spring cleanup of „my“ libraries.
The reason I’m writing it publicly is twofold:
- I want to force myself to actually go through the libraries and at least state the reality in the readme or the maintenance badge. People looking for a dependency should know its state.
- This is open source world. If you don’t want some of the libraries to die, it’s your opportunity to do something about it. See the bottom of the post.
Libraries I want to keep and invest my time in them
I have limited amount of time and energy, but there are libraries I feel I have enough emotional bond to want to keep them myself. That doesn’t mean you can’t help me with them (I really like people taking interest, it’s one of the few rewards I get for doing the work). But I still want to consider them mine in the sense I want to be the one doing reviews, having opinions and being proud of them, as well as mine in the sense of being responsible for them being high-quality and working.
- arc-swap. This one introduces
something like atomic
RwLock<Arc<T>>and few other related utilities. It’s one of these things that look much more interesting below the surface. I’d like to do some API polishing and then move it to 1.0 during the next few months.
- signal-hook. Safe interface to Unix signal handling. I’d like to go 1.0, but there’s this thing about Windows. I don’t have a Windows machine and I don’t really want to own the Windows side of the thing. From time to time someone comes and declares they’d add Windows support… and eventually disappears. So I’ll probably just go ahead with Unix-only 1.0 for now.
- log-reroute. Ability to change the logger of the log multiple times during the lifetime of a program. It’s small and I actually use it now and then, so I can as well keep it. I might move it to 1.0 eventually too, as there’s really nothing much of it.
Things I’m not sure about
I probably won’t let these die, at least not for now. But if you want to take interest in them and take over, I’m fine with that. If there’s a bug, I’ll likely spend the time fixing it, and will do so reasonably fast.
- err-context. It’s a very minimal way to create multi-layer errors and handle dynamically-typed errors without forcing a specific error type or library onto users on the other side of API boundary. Together with err-derive it creates possibilities of the failure crate, but without the downside of forcing everyone to agree on their error handling strategy. It’s created mostly because the right strategy of Rust error handling is just endlessly being discussed and I wanted to handle errors now. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done. On the other hand, it feels like I’m the only user of that thing and there are like few millions of other error handling libraries, so I’m not really trying to make it popular and I’ll just wait what happens there.
- contrie. A concurrent lock-free map implementation. It turns out the data structure this is based on is not that great in practice and the practical use cases are kind of very niche. I’ve also tried to just lay the foundation and let the rest of community do the polishing, as a kind of social experiment ‒ and I don’t think this went particularly well. I might be doing some kind of PR or marketing the wrong way. Or nobody needs this thing. On the other hand, it was fun writing and there probably can be more exploration around it.
These I plan to spend as little time on as necessary. Which probably means mostly doing reviews and releases if they come, but I don’t expect a lot of them would be coming. If you report a bug on them, be prepared to send the code of the fix too. I’m willing to invest all the needed effort for a transition, though.
- corona (no relation to the virus spreading
right now, the name is play on coroutine and I had the light around a solar
eclipse in mind at the time). This was a somewhat hacky solution to make
async-await interface for Rust at the times of
futures 0.1 and
tokio 0.1 (actually, it goes back to the
venerable tokio-core). It uses
stack-full coroutines and doesn’t support work-stealing schedulers. It’s been
fun writing, but nobody ported it to the new futures. And I feel there’s no
need to port it ‒ it played its role when waiting for native
async/awaitnotation, but there’s no motivation for it now that we have it. On the other hand, porting it to the current ecosystem might be interesting and possibly a bit advanced learning experience for someone.
- spirit and the whole huge family of related libraries (including structdoc). I still feel some library like this is needed and I still don’t see any other suiting my needs (specifically, I don’t want a framework). But I just don’t have the time to keep the whole thing alive on my own, the laundry list of tasks that needs to be done to just keep it alive and up to date is huge. I feel like some company using this might want take the burden of developing it. In case someone finds the time to work on it, I might find my motivation again too and help (or at least guide lost ones through the code base; there are some um… interesting parts).
- A lot of small things with like 20 downloads per year. These are likely mostly dead, but I’m fine with someone trying to resurrect them.
If you want to help
As mentioned above, help is appreciated. If you feel you want to keep something of these alive or that you’d be a good steward for a library, let me know ‒ issue on github is fine, an email is fine too.
We would agree on the specifics on case by case basis. But my general view on this is that I first want to somehow trust the person (Sorry, that’s not personal, I do want to believe in good intention of people, but in the world where we have library takeovers and malicious code injected in them, there should be some kind of due diligence. I also want to know such person won’t disappear a month after handing the code over.). And you might want to try it out first too, to see if it’s your kind of thing. Therefore I imagine some kind of gradual shift ‒ first seeing and reviewing some improvements, then handing over rights to merge things, etc.
If you feel like you’d want to try, but you’re not sure if you’re up to it, then I’d say you should go ahead. It’s not like there would be people queueing over wanting to maintain something so you’re not taking someone else’s place and the library would likely die without you. And I’m not going away completely, so I can help out.
In general, as Rust matures, I think the community has higher need for Stewards (as opposed to the time when Rust was young). Do you feel like being one? I’m sure I’m not the only mostly-Conqueror who would like to hand the „boring“ details of running a proper civilization to someone more interested.