The Hyperledger Foundation offers a strong backbone of services and tools to open source projects in the blockchain ecosystem. These are built to sustain projects’ needs for growth and adoption and extend beyond just code management and technical decisions. When developers start a new project or a new lab at the Hyperledger Foundation, we want to make sure that they will be successful and regularly improving the tools and services they have access to is a big part of that.
Like many enterprise open source communities, over the years Hyperledger Foundation staff has worked with project maintainers and the Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) to assess tools and services and make them available to the community. These project services are regularly reviewed and updated as community requirements change and projects mature.
Just as open source development continues to evolve, so too do the many tools used to support the projects. For example, over 20 years ago in the early years of open source, launching a project might have included setting up an IRC server for chat, putting the code on a CVS server and setting up Bugzilla to track bugs and issues Developer tools improve rapidly, and communities use a whole new set of tools today. We need to keep adapting as things evolve to serve our projects. We did this last year when the Chat Task Force reviewed the chat tool we were using at the time and they recommended a move to Discord to provide a better experience to community members.
We’ve started this year by reviewing the available tools and services and seeing where we need to bring in something better or add something new. This post will explain the recent changes we’ve been making.
Recommended List of Developer Tools
We’ve created a new page on the Hyperledger wiki that documents all of the tools that are available. This page breaks the available options down into a set of categories to help developers and maintainers make decisions about what tools to use. This includes a recommended set of tools to use for documentation, continuous integration, artifact storage, communication and issue tracking. In the past, this information hasn’t been as clear as it could be and we want to save people the time of evaluating a range of tools on their own when we have done that work and can offer our guidance.
There are tools we offer beyond the recommended tools that are available to address other specific needs. To help give guidance for all tools, we’ve clearly documented which tools we plan to provide on a long-term basis as well as those we may not be able to support past the short term for a variety of factors. We also specify tools we currently offer while we work to move projects to better tools as well as tools we used to provide but no longer do.
The set of legacy tools in the community reflect that Hyperledger was founded in 2015 and many of the tools we’ve relied on in the past now have better alternatives. For one example, we have been using Azure Pipelines but anticipate it will be replaced by Github Actions in the near future.
Additional Resources for Documentation and Translation
Documentation is critical to the health and success of open source projects. However, this is an area that can get overlooked when talking about tools and services since the focus is often on how to help developers create the code instead of document it. We’ve been looking at ways to help get more documentation activity happening in the community and have some ideas we are going to try this year.
Our annual Mentorship program is a prime opportunity to bring more people into the community to work on documentation for projects and labs. Last year a mentee helped develop documentation for Hyperledger Cacti that was delivered in the Blockchain Interoperability with Hyperledger Cacti workshop in November. Based on the success of that project, we are reserving several spots in the 2023 program for documentation related efforts. If you are involved in a project or lab and would like to work with a mentee who can help you improve existing docs or add new docs, then consider signing up as a mentor. The call for projects and mentors is underway.
Translating documentation into other languages is also a key part of making this information available to everyone who wants to use or learn about a project. Only around 20% of the world’s population speaks English so, if we provide our content only in English, it dramatically limits who is able to get involved with using or contributing. We have had some success with community members translating content, such as Hyperledger Fabric documentation, into other languages. In the process, we learned that we could benefit from tools that are specifically focused on helping people with their translations. We are looking into other options this year and welcome feedback about what people would recommend or find useful.
Exploring Other Changes Around Accessibility and Security
Later this year we’ll also be looking into ways to provide more services around security and accessibility. On the list: ways to improve the existing process for running security audits, expand the bug bounty program to more projects and help for rolling out security best practices. We also want to make sure that as many people as possible can use our tools and are not running into barriers, so we plan to conduct an accessibility audit. The audit will help us identify areas where we can make improvements that enable more people to take part in the community.
If you have questions about any of this or would like to suggest additional tools and services for us to take a look at, feel free to reach out. And, if you’re a maintainer of a project or lab and would like to talk more about how to get help using any of this for the development you’re doing, let us know. You can reach out to us at community-architects at hyperledger dot org.