[ros-users] Software Status Reporting and Custom Builds

Adolfo Rodríguez Tsouroukdissian adolfo.rodriguez at pal-robotics.com
Tue Sep 24 08:17:39 UTC 2013

On Tue, Sep 24, 2013 at 2:17 AM, Dejan Pangercic
<dejan.pangercic at gmail.com>wrote:

> Adolfo,
> > From a user perspective, I'm mostly interested in these qualities:
> > - Good and stable API

API stability can be tracked though proper versioning [1].

The frequency with which the API evolves can be used as an indirect (and
imperfect) indicator of API goodness:

- A project that frequently increases its major version (hence breaks the
API in some way or another) will probably give downstream developers
frequent headaches.
- A project that OTOH features more minor/patch version increments reflects
that effort is being given to adding new features and improving existing
ones under the hood.

API goodness is just another factor that contributes to the number of
dependent downstream projects.

[1] http://semver.org/

> > - Well tested

Coverage metrics. Special mention for header-only projects: They should
have 100% coverage, otherwise there are no guarantees that the code even

It's true that coverage alone does not mean that all covered code paths are
bug-free, but it already says a lot about the code and its developers.

> > - Well documented
> > - Actively maintained. Not necessarily actively developed.

> How do you check for first and second bullet point?

Answered above :)

> For the fourth one, I have seen quite some ROS packages being
> "actively" maintained but often that meant just increasing the version
> release number while in reality there were very little bug fixes. And
> possibly a very small user base.

That's not good or bad in itself. A simple niche application would fall in
this category: Few users (niche) and simple problem (with a simple,
low-maintenance solution).

If a package is of general interest and complies with the above criteria,
plus a license welcoming users/developers (thanks Melonee), it's likely
that it'll attract users, unless there is another project around with a
better outlook, longer history, etc. Open source is pretty much
self-regulating in this respect.

I'm not expecting to have an absolute quantitative measure of a project's
goodness, but rather a few easily available quantitative metrics that can
help me make a _qualitative_ assessment of how a prospective project fits a
set of requirements.



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Adolfo Rodríguez Tsouroukdissian
Senior robotics engineer
adolfo.rodriguez at pal-robotics.com

c/ Pujades 77-79, 4º4ª
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