The Chaperon Project is a Sourceforge volunteer project released under a very open license. This means there are many ways to contribute to the project - either with direct participation (coding, documenting, answering questions, proposing ideas, reporting bugs, suggesting bug-fixes, etc..) or by resource donations (money, time, publicity, hardware, software, conference presentations, speeches, etc...).

To begin with, we suggest you subscribe to the Chaperon mailing lists (follow the link for information on how to subscribe and to access the mail list archives). Listen-in for a while, to hear how others make contibutions.

You can get your local working copy of the latest and greatest code (which you find in the Chaperon module in the CVS code repository. Review the todo list, choose a task (or perhaps you have noticed something that needs patching). Make the changes, do the testing, generate a patch, and post to the dev mailing list. (Do not worry - the process is easy and explained below.)

Document writers are usually the most wanted people so if you like to help but you're not familiar with the innermost technical details, don't worry: we have work for you!

Help Wanted Here

The rest of this document is mainly about contributing new or improved code and/or documentation, but we would also be glad to have extra help in any of the following areas:

  • Answering questions on the users mailing list - there is often a problem of having too many questioners and not enough experts to respond to all the questions.
  • Testing Chaperon (especially its less-frequently-used features) on various configurations and reporting back.
  • Debugging - producing reproduceable test cases and/or finding causes of bugs. Some known bugs are informally listed on To Do, and some are recorded in Bugzilla (see explanation below).
  • Specifying/analysing/designing new features - and beyond. (If you wish to get involved with this, please join the Chaperon-users mailing list , install and try out Chaperon and read some of the mail archives. You should have a strong "fluency" in XML technologies, Java and a basic understanding of the Chaperon architecture - don't just say "it should have XYZ" without reading anything first - because chances are, someone's already thought of that feature!)
  • Packaging easy-to-install packages (such as RPMs) for the myriad of possible configurations out there. (The project does not maintain anything but the basic .zip and .tar.gz packages, but anyone is welcome to build their own specific packages and announce them on the general Chaperon list)
  • ... and there is just one other thing - don't forget to tell everyone who asks how great Chaperon is! ;-) The more people that know about and start to use Chaperon, the larger the pool of potential contributors there will be.

CVS Usage Precis

Here is an overview of how to use CVS to participate in Chaperon development. Do not be afraid - you cannot accidently destroy the actual code repository, because you are working with a local copy as an anonymous user. Therefore, you do not have the system permissions to change anything. You can only update your local repository and compare your revisions with the real repository.

(Further general CVS usage information is at and your local info cvs pages or man cvs pages or user documentation.)

Let us lead by example. We will show you how to establish your local repository, how to keep it up-to-date, and how to generate the differences to create a patch. (The commands are for Linux.)

CVS Committer with Secure Shell access

After a developer has consistently provided contributions (code, documentation and discussion), then the rest of the dev community may vote to grant this developer commit access to CVS.

You will need secure access to the repository to be able to commit patches. Here are some resources that help to get your machine configured to use the repository over SSH.

  • The CVS Book
  • - See the bottom of the page for links to tips for UNIX and Windows. Even if you are on UNIX, the Windows page will also help.

Procedure for Raising Development Issues

There are two methods for discussing development and submitting patches. So that everyone can be productive, it is important to know which method is appropriate for a certain situation and how to go about it without confusion. This section explains when to use the chaperon-users mailing list and when to use the bug database.

Research your topic thoroughly before beginning to discuss a new development issue. Search and browse through the email archives - your issue may have been discussed before. Prepare your post clearly and concisely.

Most issues will be discovered, resolved, and then patched quickly via the developer mailing list. Larger issues, and ones that are not yet fully understood or are hard to solve, are destined for Bugzilla.

Experienced developers use Bugzilla directly, as they are very sure when they have found a bug and when not. However, less experienced users should first discuss it on the user mailing list. Impatient people always enter everything into Bugzilla without caring if it is a bug of Chaperon or their own installation/configuration mistake - please do not do this.

As a rule-of-thumb, discuss an issue on the chaperon-users mailing list first to work out any details. After it is confirmed to be worthwhile, and you are clear about it, then submit the bug description or patch via Bug Tracking.

Perhaps you do not get any answer on your first reply; just post it again until you get one. (But please not every hour - allow a few days for the list to deal with it.) Do not be impatient - remember that the whole world is busy, not just you. Bear in mind that other countries will have holidays at different times to your country and that they are in different time zones. You might also consider re-writing your initial posting - perhaps it was not clear enough and the readers' eyes glazed over.

Contribution Notes and Tips

This is a collection of tips for contributing to the project in a manner that is productive for all parties.

  • Every contribution is worthwhile. Even if the ensuing discussion proves it to be off-beam, then it may jog ideas for other people.
  • Use sensible and concise email subject headings. Search engines, and humans trying to browse a voluminous list will respond favourably to a descriptive title.
  • Start new threads with new Subjects for new topics, rather than re-using the previous Subject line.
  • Keep each topic focused. If some new topic arises then start a new discussion. This leaves the original topic to continue un-cluttered.
  • Whenever you decide to start a new topic, start with a fresh new email message window. Do not use the "Reply to" button, because threaded mail-readers get confused (they utilise the In-reply-to header). If so, then your new topic will get lost in the previous thread and go unanswered.
  • Prepend your email subject line with a marker when that is appropriate, e.g. [Patch], [Proposal], [RT] (Random Thought which quickly blossom into research topics :-), [STATUS] (development status of a certain facility).
  • When making changes to XML documentation, or any XML document for that matter, use a validating parser (one that is tried and true is SP/nsgmls). This procedure will detect errors without having to go through the whole build docs process to find them. Do not expect Chaperon or the build system to detect the validation errors for you - they can do it, but that is not their purpose. (Anyway, nsgmls validation error messages are more informative.)
  • Remember that most people are participating in development on a volunteer basis and in their "spare time". These enthusiasts will attempt to respond to issues. It may take a little while to get your answers.
  • Research your topic thoroughly before beginning to discuss a new development issue. Search and browse through the email archives - your issue may have been discussed before. Do not just perceive a problem and then rush out with a question - instead, delve.
  • Try to at least offer a partial solution and not just a problem statement.
  • Take the time to clearly explain your issue and write a concise email message. Less confusion facilitates fast and complete resolution.
  • Do not bother to send an email reply that simply says "thanks". When the issue is resolved, that is the finish - end of thread. Reduce clutter.
  • You would usually do any development work against the HEAD branch of CVS.
  • When sending a patch, you usually do not need to worry about which CVS branch it should be applied to. The maintainers of the repository will decide.
  • If an issue starts to get bogged down in list discussion, then it may be appropriate to go into private off-list discussion with a few interested other people. Spare the list from the gory details. Report a summary back to the list to finalise the thread.
  • Become familiar with the mailing lists. As you browse and search, you will see the way other people do things. Follow the leading examples.
by Stephan Michels, Robin Green, Stefano Mazzocchi, Nicola Ken Barozzi