Draft, State of the GnuCash project, part II: What can you do to help?

Chris Lyttle chris at wilddev.net
Thu Nov 13 21:10:57 CST 2003

Sorry I took so long to answer this, been busy :)

On Mon, 2003-11-03 at 10:27, Benoit Grégoire wrote:
>  Remove dependency on GnuCash version for the the documentation 
> package.
> Currently the user documentation are in a different CVS tree with their own 
> schedule.   Unfortunately, the help index is still part of the main package, 
> which make adding new sections impossible without a new GnuCash release.  To 
> make this happen, all that is necessary is to have GnuCash look for the help 
> index at runtime.  If it isn't found, display a generic page so that the user 
> know he has to download the docs package.  This has the considerable side 
> benefit of easing the burden on translators by not having the documentation 
> sections, which is pointless (and confusing) if the docs aren't translated.
> Skills: Not much
> Current leader: 
> Primary contact: 
Actually in my mind what would be preferable to this would be for
someone to re-write the help and search/indexing to do the following;

a) Remove the old help browser, it smells ;-) (This also removes the
requirement to convert the docs to html, letting us just distribute xml.
b) I've done most of the work integrating the docs with the gnome2 help
system and converting them to xml, but it needs someone to write a way
to dynamically create a search function. I've been chatting to the new
gnome docs project lead (Shaun McCance) about what he's doing towards
this. He'd like to work towards this for gnome2 (he's maintaining yelp
as well) but he has other priorities he wants to accomplish first.
Having someone pitch in and help him would move searching to the top of
his list quicker.

>  Bug management (Tier 2 Technical support)
> For people with a little more skills, but not necessarily coders.  The job 
> consists of browsing the bugzilla database at bugzilla.gnome.org. To: 
> -Try to reproduce bugs, and break down the steps requires to reproduce.  Ask 
> the user for more information on his configuration if you cannot reproduce.  
> This will allow getting enough information for a developer to actually fix 
> the problem.
> -Review bugzilla, sort it, organize it, spot duplicates, fill in the missing 
> details, rank the bugs by importance/severity.
> -Try to spot bugs that are no longer relevant or fixed in CVS. Send 
> consolidated mail to -devel, to have the bug closed.
> -Monitor gnucash-patches mailing list and when a bug is reported fixed in the 
> changelog, of back ported to a stable branch, check that the bugfix actually 
> works for you.
> After a little while, you will probably be granted privileged access to 
> bugzilla, so you can close issues yourself.
> Skills: Experience in compiling software from source, general knowledge of 
> common issues on unix-like platforms.
> Current leader: 
> Primary contact: 
I should probably mention that I have privileged access to bugzilla. I
haven't looked at a bug in some time tho. This job needs someone to look
after it, and it also needs that person to be good at communicating with
developers. A lot of the current categories are assigned to people who
can't deal with bugs themselves (like me), this should be also monitored
so when a new dev joins us, the bugzilla maintainer asks them to be the
maintainer of that category and arranges to have bug email sent to them.

>  Distribution maintainer
> Every distribution have their specificities for building and packaging 
> GnuCash.  Being distribution maintainer involves building packages for the 
> distribution in a timely manner after a new GnuCash release, handling 
> communication with the distribution to get the package included in the base 
> distribution, and making sure bugs reported to the distribution find their 
> way in our own bug database.  It's usually not a big job, you may not even 
> have to build the packages yourself depending on the level of support from 
> the distribution.  We are currently missing official maintainers for:
> - Suse (Need official maintainer)
> - Mandrake (Need official maintainer, contact bock at step.polymtl.ca)
> - MacOS X (Need official maintainer, contact ?)
> - Debian (Need help fixing compile problems on some architecture, contact )
> Skills: The conventions of the distribution's packaging system. 
> Current leader: 
> Primary contact: Chris Lyttle
We also need to add RedHat/Fedora to the above list. I basically am
stepping back from producing rpm's as I don't really use RH anymore. I
mainly keep a vmware installation of RH 7.3 to make sure when I create a
tarball from cvs on gentoo that it will still compile properly. I do,
however, make sure that gentoo keeps the latest GnuCash, etc in its
portage :)

>  Write end-user documentation
> Help with the creation and maintenance of the user documentation.
> Skills: English, technical writing, finance
> Current leader: John Lapham
> Primary contact: John Lapham (Concepts guide), Chris Lyttle (Help manual)
Kudo's to Jon here for his work, more active contributors are welcomed
with open arms.

>  Gnucash-user mailing list moderator???
> This implies forwarding non-spam message from non-subscriber to gnucash-user.
> Skills: Spamassasin
> Current leader: Wilddev, do you need help?
> Primary contact: 
Actually spamassassin isn't the skill here, its just the ability to
click the same button in a long webpage full of spam messages multiple
dozens of times. I really don't need help with this, its not to

>  Web site maintainer
> Fix problems with the website, integrate suggestions or information from the 
> mailing list.  In order to be granted access, you must have a specific 
> project or improvement to make.  Once you do, send a mail to Conrad, and once 
> cleared through him, Linas will grant you access.
> Skills: HTML
> Current leader: Conrad Centerford
> Primary contact: 
Again, I have access to do what needs to be done here, though I would
rather have Conrad be the focal point for co-ordinating this and just
have me do stuff with his blessing when he isn't available.

>  Art projects
> Design new icons, splash screens, etc.  You must try to remain "culturally 
> neutral", for lack of a better term.  For example not everyone's money is 
> green, and credit cards aren't popular everywhere.
> Skills: Graphic design
> Current leader: 
> Primary contact: 
I asked some time ago Jakub Steiner <jimmac at ximian.com> to do some of
this for us, he did a few here
http://jimmac.musichall.cz/i.php3?ikony=69 which have been used but more
still need to be done. Either someone could step up to do this or ask
Jakub to do a few more for us.

>  Write a rebuttal to the GnuCash perception problem
> Why can't GnuCash gain widespread acceptance?  There are many factors, real or 
> imagined.  But I believe the that two most important factors to gaining 
> widespread acceptance are two historical misconceptions:
> 1-Double Accounting takes too long for personal use.  Let's not discuss the 
> merits of double accounting here and focus on the issue of time.  If you ever 
> used Quicken's categories, you are doing the exact same amount of work.  If 
> all you want is a simple checkbook balancer, you don't need a swiss army 
> knife like GnuCash (or Quicken for that matter).  There are many small 
> checkbook balancers available that do just that and do it well.
> 2-Gnucash is hard to install.  That's an old myth that isn't true anymore for 
> most users.  Most distributions include gnucash, and it's very easy to 
> install it.
> Skills: 
> Current leader: 
> Primary contact: 

I don't really understand this part, any 'perception problem' I have
encountered seemed to me to be mostly someone wanting GnuCash to be
something it wasn't (such as a Quicken clone). Perhaps someone could
write this but I think a better approach would be just to work on making
GnuCash conform more to usability guidelines decided on by the people
who actually use GnuCash. Having valuable feedback by users get
implemented would create a virtuous cycle of people saying how much they
like GnuCash and more people who want to hack on it coming in because
they heard about it.

RedHat Certified Engineer #807302549405490.
Checkpoint Certified Security Expert 2000 & NG
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