Old material archived for reference...
Sakai Community Practice [SCP:2.0]
Criteria for Provisional Status
Recommendation Level: Required
This is a required practice.
This practice applies to developers and contributors who desire to have a tool distributed with the Sakai Enterprise Bundle.
Describe the criteria used to determine if a submitted tool should have provisional status in the next release of the Sakai Enterprise Bundle. Since distribution methods are likely to change over time, this document avoids defining how tools will be distributed in a provisional manner. It is also recognized that future changes may render obsolete the designation of tools as provisional.
Sakai tools fall into one of three categories:
- Tools we're not comfortable with and don't know enough about. These reside in the Sakai contribution area (contrib) but receive no Sakai resources.
- Tools we're getting comfortable with. These tools are assigned provisional status and may receive some Sakai resources, QA, attention, etc.
- Tools we've been using and we're comfortable with. These tools get full Sakai support, regression testing, etc.
This document outlines a set of technical criteria that an application must meet before being considered for inclusion in a Sakai release as a provisional tool.
A provisional tool is defined as a tool that is included in a Sakai release but excluded from the list of tools presented to the user when they are configuring their site through site setup. A method is provided to allow provisional tools to be activated during the configuration process.
The release notes will clearly identify the list of tools that are considered provisional in nature. Part of the goal of including a provisional tool in a release is to promote the tool to full inclusion in the release in a 6-9 month timeframe after the tool has been used, tested, evaluated by a wider range of sites. However a provisional tool may be dropped back to contrib if it is clear that it will not become part of the full release. It should be made clear in the release notes that a provisional tool does not receive the same level of QA as official tools.
Criteria for provisional tool status are grouped as follows:
- Community Support
- Technical Elements
- Interaction and Visual Design
- Desirable Elements
There must be an identified group of committers within the Sakai community who take responsibility for the tool. This group can be comprised of the original author(s) or others from the community willing to take responsibility for the application.
The application source code must reside in Sakai's source control system. Organization and management of the source control system is defined in a different Sakai Community Practice (to be determined).
At least two Sakai production sites must be utilizing the tool successfully in their production environments. Those sites should be able to report that the tool runs properly and is useful to their users. These sites must also report that the application does not cause any problems with other parts of the Sakai release such as poor performance, memory leaks, etc.
The developer(s) of the tool must be committed to maintaining the application across Sakai version changes including any necessary data conversion for their elements of Sakai if storage structure changes.
The developer(s) of the tool must be willing to answer questions about their application on Sakai dev list.
The developer(s) of the tool must commit to helping to develop test plans and specifications for the application. Until those test plans are in place, the author(s) will commit to join the Sakai release/QA process and perform the necessary QA on their application. To become an official tool, the author(s) of the tool must contribute test plans and specifications (to satisfy the requirements of the QA group).
Bugs and feature requests for the tool must be tracked in Sakai's bug tracking system.
If the tool persists data to a database, it must support all official Sakai databases (currently HSQL, MySql, and Oracle).
The tool must work properly with the Sakai AutoDDL approach. The application must properly create tables when tables do not exist and the tables must be named so as not to conflict with other Sakai tables.
All database access to tables that the tool does not own will take place via published Sakai APIs provided by the application that manages those tables. The tool should use APIs for access to its own data, but it must use APIs for access to data from others.
The tool must participate in the system-wide configuration (sakai.properties) and not require any local configuration to be hand-edited.
The tool must properly operate in the Sakai Authorization and tool placement structure. It must either use existing appropriate security functions or introduce new security functions for the application.
The tool will not require patches to other Sakai tools or to the Sakai framework. A application may require changes to other areas of Sakai, but those changes should be negotiated ahead of time and should be part of the full distribution.
The tool must fully work in a clustered Sakai application server environment.
The tool cannot force new jars into shared/lib or common/lib. Sakai's goal is to keep these jar footprints as small as possible. Any new jar requirement in those areas requires significant discussion.
There are a number of system-wide elements in Sakai including Spring, Hibernate, and others--the application must work with the versions of these elements that are part of the Sakai release.
Licensing must be clean before the application is moved into Sakai's source control system and put into a Sakai distribution. The license must not violate the policies set by the Sakai Foundation. This also means that a tool cannot require other application or jar with a proprietary or ECL-incompatible license to be part of the distribution.
JVM Requirement from Steve Githens
One thing that's not explicity included in the Provisional Tools is what JVM language the tool has to be written in.
Two Cases are coming to mind:
a) Using Tools that are either entirely written in another language (like BeanShell, Python, Ruby) and compiled to Java Bytecode, or have parts that have been written in another language and compiled down to jars or class files.
b) Using Tools that have Java Sources generated from another language, examples including the *.java sources generated from Python sources.
While I'm pretty sure nothing like this would be considered anytime soon, it might be an issue in another year or two, especially if the wacky compilation processes are incorporated into Maven.
Interaction and Visual Design
The tool UI must look like the rest of the Sakai application and properly inherit skins from Sakai (i.e. when the sites color changes the tool colors change as well). The tool should not look "out of place" amongst other Sakai tools.
The tool should follow general interaction guidelines outlined in the Sakai Style Guide (SG) so users have consistent experiences and expectations about how to complete actions such as "paging in a list", "navigating between pages", "taking action of items in a list", etc across tools. The SG is a guide and should be used to help inform interaction decisions but is not meant to have all the answers.
UI components available in the Sakai library should be used where possible (e.g. wysiwyg editor, calendar, paging widget).
The application must support all of the browsers currently supported by Sakai including FireFox/Mozilla and Internet Explorer.
The tool should provide basic help which integrates seamlessly with the Sakai Help system. The help should have a look and feel and writing style similar to the other elements of help.
These elements are challenging and are strongly encouraged in order to get an application beyond provisional status. Tool developers should consider these concepts in the design and implementation of their tools:
- The tool is properly internationalized with all of its user-displayed strings derived from properties files.
- The tool should be fully accessible and pass a Sakai accessibility review.
- If the tool has any persistence or business rule code it should be factored into a Sakai Component with a published API which has complete javaDoc. This component should be designed so as to allow other applications and/or system processes to be able to work with the business objects handled by the application.
- Creation of web services API for the tool. The authors should provide a web-service layer which sits on top of their API.
- The tool should participate in the Sakai cross-site import and export if it persists business objects.
- The tool should be inter-operable with other Sakai tools where appropriate.
- The tool should generate event codes that are triggered minimally on new, revise, and delete actions on the basic objects created by the tool.
- Hibernate is not required but if the tool is doing significant ORM, it should be done using Hibernate - the application should work with the current version of Hibernate used in the Sakai release.
- In order for Sakai to seen to be a seamless application, effort needs to be made to minimize overlap in functionality with other Sakai "bundled" tools. At times, as tools are evolving, or complete replacement tools are being produced, overlap is acceptable. Where overlap will happen between tools under consideration, developers should first look to fixing/improving the existing tools rather than simply writing a new tool with a few features. Each tool which adds overlap may result in the long term need to "clean up" the overlap to maintain a good user experience.
Notification and Process
If an application element is being considered for inclusion, it should be ready for inclusion 30 days before the code freeze for that release. There should be an announcement to the community 30 days before the release code freeze so that the community can download, install, and evaluate the tool and comment on its suitability for inclusion.
The notification should include the following:
- What is is
- How to install / configure it
- Known issues
- Whom to contact
Inclusion of a provisional tool will be based on input from the Sakai community to the current release team (to be described in a separate practice). Once the application is selected for inclusion, the developers must coordinate with the release team to update any install/release documentation.
All major changes should be recorded in the following history table:
Description of Change
Copied from a document submitted the SCP-PWG.
Document updated to reflect SCP discussion on 2/22/06
Minor text revisions; typographical, syntactial/grammatical errors corrected.