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OpenLDAP 2.5 plans and community engagement

Hi all,
as 2.4 has finally stabilised and the ITS list is getting shorter not longer
(thanks to Quanah's tireless efforts), the project can finally tackle some of
the long-standing pain points. So this post aims to outline where we are/want to
move to as well as to start a discussion and hopefully get you, the community,
more involved on the road to 2.5 and beyond.

We would love to welcome more people to participate in the project and make it
more active and resilient. People of various skills and experience can make a
difference, I am personally happy to assist anyone who wants to contribute with
getting up to speed and start helping out, and for sure I'm not the only one.
Also OpenLDAP is about more than just C programming and I'll try to outline the
main areas where we want to focus our work in the short term here:

One of the pain points in the 2.4 release cycle was the level of testing done on
the code before we have released. There are issues with the existing test suite
that make testing hard and I will come to how this could be tackled in a later
email. In the short term however, we could benefit from having the tests we have
run more often and on more diverse environments. If you have a chance to run it
regularly, in a loop and report issues picked up, that would be a definite help.
If you could help extend the test suite to cover scenarios that are of interest
to you and are not appropriately covered yet, even better.

Another issue frustrating both users and contributors to the project has been
the existing jitterbugs bug tracker (a.k.a. ITS), which has by now outlived its
usefulness. Plans to move to a project-hosted Gitlab instance + Bugzilla (via
Gitlab's built in Bugzilla integration) are being made and this should make the
issue tracker searchable again, help with triage as well as greatly improve the
visibility into our release process. Especially after the migration, this would
be another opportunity for anyone with just a bit of spare time to help by
triaging open issues so we can make timely releases of better quality.

I'm sure everyone agrees our website could do with a redesign. We've started
looking into this but it has been a slow process so far and if you can
contribute here, that might speed things up. It doesn't need much, keeping it a
collection of static html pages, just a slight reorganisation of the content
that is more friendly to anyone visiting it for the first time plus a simplistic
design along the lines of many other open source projects (openssl.org for
example) would go a long way.

This leads to documentation, much of which is already hosted on the website.
While I believe there is good work to be done on the admin guide, it is one of
the better parts of our documentation. This is where user feedback on its
usefulness is more important, please read it, have people on your team read it
and show it people just getting started and report which parts are confusing,
how they could be improved. We also intend to document our contributor
guidelines in a more readable way.

The FAQ site however is on the opposite side of the spectrum and will be removed
at some later point. There have been two suggestions how to replace it. We could
use Gitlab internal wiki or a static webpage site based on Gitlab pages and we
want to transfer over articles that are still relevant.

In general, moving to Gitlab should let us integrate CI much better, especially
if there are people willing to integrate and manage external runners. As
mentioned above, we could definitely do with more regular testing on non-Linux
platforms, e.g. *BSD or Windows+MSYS2. Pull requests might then also be
automatically tested.

Let us know what the pain points have been with OpenLDAP when you were just
starting, right now and if you have a suggestion how to make it easier to start
using it. Or if you wanted to contribute, has anything discouraged you?
There are things we might not be able to influence easily (LDAP itself can be
complex), but a fresh look might help direct efforts in the right direction.

Thanks ever so much for reading this far. This email is long enough already so I
will follow up with another one about my long term plans to overhaul the test
infrastructure and other tools that might be worth introducing to help with
setting up and managing OpenLDAP deployments.


Ondřej Kuzník
Senior Software Engineer
Symas Corporation                       http://www.symas.com
Packaged, certified, and supported LDAP solutions powered by OpenLDAP