[Updated 6-2-2015 with the full process for filing RFEs in Neutron.]

Starting with the development of the Juno release, the Neutron project moved to using a specs repository similar to how other projects were using them. In our quest to enforce a waterfall design model, we also added an appropriate spec template which was filled with things such as “Problem Description”, “REST API Impact”, “IPv6 Impact”, “Community Impact”, and everyone’s favorite sections on “Testing” and “Documentation.” We deployed this with the best of intentions and the greatest of hopes. And we used this process for both Juno and the Kilo cycle.

How did the process work? At best, it lengthened the pipeline we had in place to gate the incoming feature fire-hose. At worst, it turned off potential committers. In the interest of stepping out of the way, it was time to change the process and refocus on what we really wanted to solve.

Who Are the Users Of Neutron?

Asking this question was at the heart of what reforming the process. The old process was not easy for non-developers to contribute to. It required you to clone a gerrit repository and take the time to actually fill in a lengthy document, including detailed design decisions. This wasn’t going to work for someone who was not inclined to code. In reality, we had very little feedback from operators and users on our specs process. I blame the template.

In reality, we would love to get feedback from users. These are the people who we are designing the software for. The new process had to take this into account from the start.

The Request For Enhancement (RFE) Process

Over the past month, the Neutron team has been iterating on the new process. I’m happy to announce we’ve merged the patches for this and we are now going to give it a new try. And what is this new process? A quick summary is as follows:

  • A slimmed down spec template which focuses on the “what” instead of the “how.”
  • A process which emphasizes filing RFE bugs instead of detailed design documents.
  • The removal of deadlines. No more deadlines for filing RFEs or specs.

The RFE process is meant to allow users to express their desires for new features using Launchpad. A quick review of these RFE bugs can be done and they can turn into features should the need arise. The process is streamlined as well with no additional deadlines. Overall, a win-win for all interested parties.

The entire new process, as documented in the Neutron blueprint process file, is as follows.

  1. The bug is submitted and will by default land in the “New” state.
  2. As soon as a member of the neutron-drivers team acknowledges the bug, it will be moved into the “Confirmed” state. No priority, assignee, or milestone is set at this time.
  3. The bug goes into the “Triaged” state once a discussion around the RFE has taken place.
  4. The neutron-drivers team will evaluate the RFE and may advise the submitter to file a spec in neutron-specs to elaborate on the feature request.
  5. The PTL will work with the Lieutenant for the area being identified by the RFE to evaluate resources against the current workload.
  6. In either case (a spec being required or not), once discussion has happened the bug will get an assignee, priority and milestone.
  7. Once a patchset targeting the bug is submitted the bug will move into the “In Progress” state.
  8. When all patches targeting the bug are merged or abandoned, the bug will be moved to the “Completed” state.

The Future

As with most things in OpenStack, the only constant is change. We’ll try this out for the Liberty release and we’ll make adjustments during the Mxx release design summit. But with a focus on allowing users to express their interest in features, the process is already a vast improvement over the prior way to submit code into Neutron.