Context: Call for Community Posts and other posts

Obligatory 2017 Reflection

When I started with Rust, I was planning on blogging about my experience. As I learned though, I found most of the documentation I needed was in blog posts that, though helpful, would give different suggestions without a hint as to why they solved the problems differently. This is frustrating for someone new because you just want to get your task done and not have to first research a whole other area. I realized that the more valuable route for me would be in improving documentation and tooling to serve as living documentation. I've even taken this to try to find homes for some of the blog posts I bookmarked. So far my only contribution has been to documenting swapping Option<Result<_>> to Result<Option<_>> (which might get replaced with transpose) and documenting Results strategies for collections.

My area of biggest frustration has been in crate management. In a ecosystem where small, single-purpose crates are encouraged, the need is even higher for ensuring our crates are treated as cattle and not pets. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked out that way for me. I've been trying to leverage my CI for enforcing code quality, simplifying releases, etc but I've spent too much time this year fighting my CI. In addition, the level of work to upgrade that parts (like the CI config template or warning lists) is too high.

Improving Crate Management

This is not as much a goal I'm wanting to suggest for the wider Rust ecosystem in 2018 but more of a personal goal I have that I know I can't do alone. It involves cooperation from crate maintainers, people with more familiarity with best practices than me, people to help refine my ideas, and people with skills and resources I lack.

My goal is to make crate management passive so people can keep their crates "modern" with little to no work.

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who sees there is room for improvement here.

Warning Epochs

Compiler and clippy warnings are a great way to maintain high quality code. The challenge is in maintaining the set of enabled warnings. You can #![deny(warnings)] but that means your build will break every time a new warning is introduced. So the recommendation is to instead explicitly list all of your warnings. The list of warnings is long and has to be listed in every lib.rs, main.rs, and test .rs file. You then have to poll the output of rustc to know when new warnings are added, and update all of the relevant files in all of the crates you maintain.

An easy way to handle this is for this to be a part of the epochs plan. Warning groups (including warning) could remain unchanged during epoch. New warnings could be added to *-unstable groups that will be stabilized at the next epoch. This might seem to be an abuse of epochs because warnings are not part of the language definition but I feel the benefit out weighs the possible misuse.

This should also apply to clippy.

Automate the Boring Stuff

The community already has bors to ensure quality on high traffic projects. There is more we can do here though.

I've not written many web apps nor have the infrastructure to run such a bot. I also know this is just the tip of the iceberg of licensing and people more familiar with the topic (like distribution notices). This is definitely an area where collaboration would be appreciated.

Dependency Management

One source of inspiration is pyup for Python which will create PRs to update your dependencies. This will let you easily find the changelog, review the test results of the upgrade, and easily select what to do. This would be quite trivial to adapt to Rust for projects that have a Cargo.lock checked in. It might even be safe to include all of the updates in a single PR (with both commands to tweak things).

I could see our dependency bot going one further having PRs that offer to update Cargo.toml dependencies across incompatible versions. Not every compatibility break breaks every client. Armed with a changelog and your CI, it should be easy to decide whether to merge the PR.

If we're already writing a bot that watches dependencies, we could also make it chime in on PRs that modify Cargo.toml to report on the licensing impact of the change (e.g. new license introduced).

CI Tool Management

Beyond crate dependencies is CI versioning.

These are a little more challenging to automate because everyone can write their .travis.yml et al any way they want.

Centralized Documentation and Tooling

Right now, any documentation beyond trivial examples is spread across blog posts. The best resource is the great trust template but its hard to separate out the complexity you don't need and your edits are mixed in with the template making it hard to update.

My vision for this is a central repo that contains a crate CI mdBook, a dedicated gitter channel for more targetted support, and commonly accepted CI tooling. This CI tooling includes trying to find ways to separate out trust's mechanisms out from the user's policy so they can easily be modified independent of each other and let the user more easily pick and choose what parts they need.

I was concerned about centralization and the challenges with it but I was encouraged at seeing killercup's endorsement of the idea in general:

There is no reason why so many popular crates should live in user-repos instead of in community-managed organizations (speaking in Github terms). Writing and then publishing a bunch of code as a crate one thing, but maintaining it, fixing bugs, replying to issues and pull requests, that takes up a lot of time as well. Time, that a lot of developers don't have, or don't want to invest. cargo-edit, for example, which lives under my Github username, has two wonderful maintainers, who are more active than I am. But should I create a cargo-edit organization and move the repo there? If there was a good and definitive answer, which would neither make me deal with the organizational aspects not result in accumulating lot of junk code, I'd be really happy.

(One challenge for a CI organization will in coming up with a name)

Specifically regarding CI tools, it'd be great to have best practices and be able to more easily collaborate to bring them up to those best practices (pre-build binaries for faster CIs, etc).

Some examples of tools I could see hosting in this repo include (if the authors agree):

It might even be good to host tools not directly related to CI like cargo-release in an effort to support users through the entire release process.

Honorable Mention: rustfmt and clippy

The great stable/nightly divide for rustfmt and clippy being on nightly-only introduce their own host of problems but I can skip all of that because they are on their path for being integrated into the rust toolchain.