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join LilyPond development!

From: Han-Wen Nienhuys
Subject: join LilyPond development!
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2004 23:57:21 +0200

Dear LilyPond afficionado,

As you might have noticed, LilyPond has been improving at a breakneck
speed for the last year, which is a good thing.  This email hopes to
continue that trend by unleashing an enormous source of development
potential, and that is ...


LilyPond already has seen an increase in contributions over the past
months, from packagers, bugfixers, proofreaders, etc.  We love your
help, and we can't have enough of it!  Join LilyPond development for
riches, eternal fame, and getting your name in the THANKS file :-)

There are plenty of ways to get into the THANKS file, for example, by
taking care of documentation, bug reports, releases, etc.  We have
compiled a list of tasks that we would love to be helped with.  Have a
look to see if there is something for you.

Many of the tasks are not very technical, so don't dismiss yourself
too quickly.  We have plenty of experience with these tasks, so there
is always someone to guide you and get you started.

Hopefully, together we can address problems in the LilyPond
development process, among others

  * Stable releases don't happen often enough.

  * Development is too much centralized.

  * The learning curve is too steep.

The list of tasks is not exhaustive.  If you have good ideas on how to
get more people involved, or how to use our energy more efficiently,
don't hesitate to drop a note on the development mailing list


Of course, if you have an itch to scratch, you can also send patches
to this mailinglist :-)

What other great plans can you expect from us?

We have a roadmap, sort of, which is to implement the following
features for the next major release

  * Support for font-encoding like latin1, cyrillic, etc.
  * Usable direct postscript output (with titling, and multiple scores).

  * Optimal page breaking.

Of course, the release date depends on how much help we get with all
the tasks mentioned below.



The job of the release-meister is to coordinate releases.  Ideally,
they would happen less frequently than they do now --perhaps once a
month-- but offer a better quality.

LilyPond is ready for a release when

  * The regression test comes out clean

  * All features work as documented 

  * A new release would offer an improvement over the last one

The release-meister keeps an eye on the bugreports and ChangeLog, and
has the responsibility to decide when a release is in order.

The actual mechanics entail branching CVS, pestering developers for
important bug-fixes, creating and uploading the tarball, announcing it
on mailing lists, websites, etc.



The responsibility of the build-meister it is to make sure that binary
packages of LilyPond are available for all platforms.

To this end, the build-meister

  * Regularly (say, once a week) packages LilyPond CVS for one
    platform.  This is to check for bugs in the installation procedure.

  * Tries to find people that will build LilyPond packages for other
    platforms, either for releases or from CVS.

  * Tries to convince vendors (Fedora, Mandrake, etc.)  to put lily in
    their base distributions.

  * Maintains the page.



The Bug-meister is the human face behind the collection of LilyPond
bugs.  He (or she, of course) keeps an eye on bugs in LilyPond,
especially those where LilyPond produces incorrect notation or
typography.  This is a very important job, since good responses to
bugreports makes LilyPond look good for struggling users.

  * He will be reading the bug-lilypond and lilypond-user mailing
    list, replying to bugreporters and distilling small failure cases
    for each report.

  * Every bug goes into a bug-collection.  In the collection for each
    bug, there is

     - A .ly snippet, trimmed as far as possible.

     - An image demonstrating the problem.

     - A description of what is wrong.

     - Whether the bug concerns a new feature, or breaks existing

     - If the latter, the version number where the bug started

     - The severity of the bug: a bug should get priority if it causes
       crashes, when there are no workarounds, or if it affects a large
       number of people.

  * Periodically (say, every week), the bug-collection is run through
    LilyPond to determine which problems are still open.

  * Some bugs, when fixed, should be added as a regression test.

  * Of course, the bug-meister will pester developers to fix serious

An example of excellent bug-reports is the bug-collection of Werner
Lemberg, see for example

REQUIREMENTS: read email regularly, so bugreports are replied to in a
timely fashion.




eases LilyPond's learning curve by improving the manual.
Specifically, the documentation editor will

  * Read the mailing lists, and analyze how confused users could be
    helped better by the manual.

  * Take questions and answers from the mailing list, and rewrite them
    to fit in the manual.

  * Edit the manual for spelling, grammar, clarity etc.

  * Maintain style standards for the manual.


This is a job best suited to a native English speaker with affinity
for technical writing.




makes sure that new C++ and Scheme code follows the standards.

Writing LilyPond code is an intensive --and sometimes frantic--
process, and the code that is written in deep-hack mode often is
unpolished.  The janitor helps by adding the polish, and standardizing
the code

  * Cleanup code spacing, formatting, indenting, file names, etc.

  * Standardize
    - error messages
    - doc strings
    - texidoc strings
    - function comments
    - debugging code

  * Submit pot files to the translation robot, and update the
    translations in CVS.

  * Define new coding style standards, where necessary.


Moderate experience with programming C, Scheme and/or Python


The LilyPond community is centered around the lilypond-user mailing
list, which is becoming rather high-traffic nowadays; even we have
trouble keeping up with it ourselves.  We think it would be a boon to
have a


who summarizes the hot topics on lilypond-user and lilypond-devel.  We
was thinking along the lines of the "Kernel traffic" newsletter
(  Hopefully, this will make
lurking on the list easier, and help build a wider community of
LilyPond followers.


Developers "scratch their own itch", but they can only do that if they
have an overview of how the source code is organized.  A


describes the general design of LilyPond, and helps with writing a
"HOWTO" document on implementing new features.

We're thrilled that Doug Linhardt is working on a such a document.
Nevertheless, if you want to help, drop a note on the lilypond-devel



 Han-Wen Nienhuys   |   address@hidden   | 

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