I wish projects would reliably use their release announcements mechanisms

April 26, 2024

Today, not for the first time, I discovered that one project that we use locally had made a new release (of one component) by updating my local copy of their Git repository and noticing that 'git pull' had fetched a new tag. Like various other projects, this project has an official channel to announce new releases of their various components; in this case, a mailing list. Sadly, the new release had not been announced on that mailing list, although other releases have been in the past.

This isn't the only project that does things like this and as a busy system administrator, I wish that they wouldn't. In some ways it's more frustrating to have an official channel for announcements and then to not use it consistently than to have no such channel and force me to rely on things like how Github based projects have a RSS feed of releases. With no channel (or a channel that never gets used), at least I know that I can't rely on it and I'm on my own. An erratic announcement channel makes me miss things.

(It may also cause me to use a release before it is completely ready. There are projects that publish tags and releases in their VCS repositories before they consider the releases to be officially released and something you should use. If I have to go to the VCS repository to find out about (some) new releases, I'm potentially going to be jumping the gun some of the time. Over the years I've built up a set of heuristics for various projects where I know that, for example, a new major release will almost always be officially announced somehow so I should wait to see that, but a point release may not get anything beyond a VCS tag.)

In today's modern Internet world, some of the projects that do this may have a different (and not well communicated) view of what their normal announcement mechanism actually is. If a project has an announcements mailing list and an online discussion forum, for example, perhaps their online forum is where they expect people to go for this sort of thing and there's a de facto policy that only major releases are sent to the mailing list. I tend not to look at such forums, so I'd be missing this sort of thing.

(Some projects may also have under-documented policies on what is worth 'bothering' people about through their documented announcements mechanism and what isn't. I wish they would announce everything, but perhaps other people disagree.)

Written on 26 April 2024.
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Last modified: Fri Apr 26 23:19:05 2024
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