Category Archives: D Foundation

Bugzilla Reward System

Digital Mars D logo

The Dlang bot has been updated to track Bugzilla issues
that have been fixed. It went live for testing on the 2nd of July. Each GitHub user who fixes a bug via a merged pull request is awarded a number of points depending on the severity of the issue. The current results can always be seen on the contributor stats page. This blog post covers all of the details regarding the implementation, rules, and prizes of the reward system.

Raison d’être

I want to start by saying that the motivation of this system is not to start a fierce competition between contributors to fix as many issues as possible. The primary reasons: we see this as a means for the D Language Foundation to reward committed contributors and to channel their efforts towards more important bugs. If, as a side effect, the system motivates people to fix more bugs, that’s great! We won’t complain.

There are some negative side effects that are possible with any sort of gamification system, and we’ll be keeping an eye out for them. We think we have one of the best online communities out there. Our members are generally friendly and helpful, and we don’t want to do anything that causes tension or proves negatively disruptive. We think this will be a fun way to reward our contributors, but we will pull the plug if it proves otherwise.

Scoring system

The scoring is designed to reward contributors based on the importance of the issues they fix, rather than the total number fixed. As such, issues are awarded points based on severity:

  • enhancement: 10
  • trivial: 10
  • minor: 15
  • normal: 20
  • major: 50
  • critical/blocker: 75
  • regression: 100

Of course, the severity of an issue does not necessarily reflect the complexity of the solution. There might be regressions that are trivial to solve, and enhancements that require an extremely complicated fix. The message that we are trying to send is that complexity is secondary to need. That is why regressions are given top priority and critical/blocker/major issues aren’t far behind.

Rules

The following rules will guide how points are awarded from the initial launch of the reward system. They are not set in stone and are open to revision over time.

Rule #1: The severity of an issue will be decided by the reviewers of a proposed patch.

Severity levels are not always accurately set when issues are first reported and may not have been updated since. The reviewer of a pull request that closes a Bugzilla issue will evaluate the issue’s severity level and may change it if he or she determines it is inaccurate. I will moderate any disagreements that may arise about severity levels.

Rule #2: A PR fixing a bug may not be merged by the same person that proposed the patch.

This is already an unwritten rule that applies to the DLang repositories, so it should not surprise anyone.

Rule #3: Anyone who adopts an orphaned PR that fixes a bug may be awarded its associated points.

To avoid any authorship conflicts, it is best if the adopter contacts the original author to ask if it is okay to adopt the PR. Rule #3 will apply if there is no response or if the response is affirmative. Otherwise, no points will be awarded.

Rule #4: Only one person may receive points per fixed issue.

This rule is specifically designed for reverted PRs. Imagine that a PR that presumably fixes an issue is merged and the author gets points for it. Later on, it is decided that the fix is incorrect and the PR is reverted. If someone else proposes the correct fix, the points will be subtracted from the original contributor and awarded to the new author. Hopefully, this will motivate the original contributor to propose the correct fix after the reversion.

Rule #5: Incomplete fixes still get points.

A Bugzilla report usually includes a snippet of code that reproduces the issue. A frequent pattern is that the bug is correctly fixed for the provided snippet, then someone comes up with a slightly modified example that does not work and reopens the issue. Since the original fix was correct, but not complete, the procedure here is that the original issue should be left closed and a new one should be opened. The original author keeps the points awarded for the original issue.

Implementation

Since most of you are die-hard geeks and are eagerly awaiting the code, here’s the database implementation hosted on the dlang-bot, and here’s the web page implementation. You will notice that the web page is extremely minimal. That is because I am a total n00b when it comes to web programming, so if anyone has the skills and the time to make a cooler web page, feel free to make a PR :D.

In short, for each of the issues that are fixed, the database stores the Bugzilla issue number, the GitHub ID of the person who fixed it, the date when the fix was merged, and the severity of the issue. Every time the leaderboard page is accessed, a query is issued to the database to compute the total points for all of the contributors and sort them in descending order. Easy peasy.

I would like to thank Vladimir Pantaleev for his continued support and assistance throughout the period that I implemented the system.

Prizes

As Mike briefly described in this forum post, we are going to have quarterly competitions. The quarterly prizes will vary. At the end of the year, the person who has acquired the most points will be awarded a bigger prize.

For the inaugural competition, which will officially start on the 20th of September 2021 and will last until the start of DConf Online (the 20th of November), the prizes will be:

  • First Place: a $300 Amazon eGift Card
  • Second Place: a $200 Amazon eGift Card
  • Third Place: a $100 Amazon eGift Card

The next set of prizes will be announced at DConf Online, so stay tuned!

That’s all folks!

If there are any questions or suggestions regarding any aspect of the bugfix reward system, please contact me at razvan.nitu1305@gmail.com. Also, feel free to directly propose changes to the existing infrastructure.

Happy coding everyone!

A Pull Request Manager’s Perspective

Since January of this year, I have been working as a part-time PR (Pull Request) manager. During this time, I have mostly been reviewing PRs and going through issues on the D Bugzilla. I have also been trying to come up with ways of creating organizational structures and procedures that will ultimately aid the D leadership in motivating and focusing community effort. This blog post presents a few insights I’ve had regarding the PR queues of the dmd, druntime, and phobos repositories, and a couple of proposals that, in my opinion, could benefit the D contribution process.

PR rounds

As a PR manager, I spend most of my time reviewing PRs. Since I started on the job, I have been involved in the merger of more than 400 PRs across our repositories. From this experience I have extracted a few insights:

  • If a new PR is not reviewed within the first 3 days after it was opened, chances are that it will get abandoned.
  • If a PR is not merged during the first 2 weeks after it was opened, chances are that it will be abandoned.
  • Contributions, in terms of PRs per month, are as follows: phobos (130), dmd (85), druntime (30).
  • Although phobos benefits from more contributions, dmd has a larger contributor base.
  • Druntime needs morelove.
  • Veteran contributors are more likely to abandon PRs than new/first-time contributors.

Given the first 2 points, I try to make contact as fast as possible with PR authors. It often happens that I do not have the necessary expertise to technically review a PR. In that case, I try to find people who are willing to take a look. However, since we do not have a concrete community hierarchy, it is sometimes difficult to find the needed reviewers. A solution to this problem is proposed later in the blog post.

Regarding the ratio of contributions per repository, it is noteworthy that phobos and dmd get a lot of attention, whereas druntime is by far the least attractive repository. Another interesting aspect is the diversity of the contributor base: in the last month, there have been ten contributors who opened more than one PR for dmd, five for phobos, and four for druntime. Ths emphasizes the fact that druntime needs more love.

Lastly, I noticed that veteran contributors tend to abandon their PRs more often than newcomers. This can be explained by the fact that veteran contributors usually tackle multiple PRs at the same time, whereas newcomers usually focus on a single PR. I want to take this opportunity to urge all contributors not to abandon their PRs. It is disappointing for reviewers such as myself to put in the time to properly investigate the patch and offer advice to then see it go to waste. I know that it is much more appealing to start working on new things, but it is highly important not to let any work go to waste.

Upcoming projects

From my perspective, D has come a long way from its early days: language features are maturing, adoption is steadily growing and the community is expanding around a nucleus of veteran contributors. But given that growth, it is surprising that from an organizational standpoint we are basically in the same spot: if a critical issue appears (a critical bug report, a CI failure, an expired certificate, etc.), the solution is to make a forum post or a comment on Slack and hope that someone who can fix it, or can get it fixed, notices it soon; non-critical issues depend on someone taking an interest: an issue might eventually be fixed, or we might be stuck with it indefinitely. The problem is not manpower or skill; our community has a lot of talent. Unfortunately, we fail to utilize it to its full potential.

If we want certain things to be done, it is the leadership’s responsibility to:

  1. specifically state what work needs to be done,
  2. organize the community, and
  3. incentivize contributors to do the needed work.

Although there is room for improvment, (1) has usually taken place in the form of forum discussions, DIPs, and blog posts. (2) is difficult to implement, given that people contribute in their own free time. As for (3), the mantra has been “fix it if you need it”, which works well for interesting topics, but not that well for important, hard-to-fix bugs, or high-impact, boring tasks.

Implementing points (2) and (3) in an open-source community and with limited financial resources is difficult. However, there are alternative approaches that have not been explored in the DLang ecosystem. I will outline them below.

Creating strike teams

One way of organizing the community is to create dedicated groups of people, or strike teams, that can be called upon for specific tasks. One will be assigned to each repository (dmd, druntime, phobos, dlang.org). The idea is to add people to these groups who either have expertise but lack time to contribute, or don’t lack expertise but are willing to actively contribute. This way, if you do not have time to contribute code, you can still help the community by offering implementation advice, whereas if you do have time to offer, you can contribute and develop expertise. The strike teams will be populated by a limited number of people who are trusted members of the community. These teams will be approached directly by the leadership (Walter, Atila, Mike, PR Managers) to fix issues or implement work defined in point (1). The components of the strike teams will receive recognition by having their name listed on the dlang.org site (thus satisfying point (3)).

Of course, this will work as long as there are folks out there willing to dedicate their time. If you want to contribute in some form to any of the strike teams, please contact me directly on Slack or via email.

Bugzilla Gamification

The D compiler has around 3000 reported bugs, druntime around 300, and phobos 900. These numbers have grown over time. Although some issues are fixed, we have had no means to incentivize people to work on the critical ones. To that end, we propose a simple gamification scheme: each issue has a severity associated; once a PR that closes an issue is merged, the github author of the PR is awarded points according to its severity level; a leaderboard, which is updated in real-time, is presented on dlang.org, and anyone can see who the top contributors are. At the end of each “season”, contributors will be awarded prizes and recognition based on different criteria, such as overall point total, number of total contributions, and so on (we have yet to finalize the kinds of prizes that will be awarded).

By implementing this scoring scheme, we offer some incentive for more experienced contributors to prioritize blocker/critical/major/regression issues over the more trivial or simpler ones, and encourage new contributors to try their hand at a level with which they’re comfortable. We are already working on implementing this and will announce the rules and prize categories once everything is up and running.

Conclusion

We are at a point in the evolution of the D programming language and its ecosystem where motivating community effort towards a common goal is crucial. This is a long-term, complicated task, but we need to start somewhere. I hope that with this initiative we can pave the way to a more sophisticated and better-organized contribution process that is a more satisfying and rewarding experience for our contributors.

D 2.094.0, DConf Online Schedule, and SAOC 2020

Digital Mars D logo

The end of September saw a new release of the reference D compiler, DMD 2.094.0, sporting the latest language features. That was followed not long after by a beta release of LDC, the LLVM-based D compiler, based on the same frontend version. The DMD 2.094.1 patch release entered into beta a few days before this post was published. Meanwhile, the first Milestone of the Symmetry Autumn of Code has come to an end, and the DConf Online 2020 schedule has been published.

DMD 2.094.0

This release of DMD incorporates 21 major changes and 119 fixed Bugzilla issues, thanks to the efforts of 49 contributors. Here are some highlights.

This ain’t your grandpa’s in parameter

Back in the days of yore, when DMD was still a pre-1.000 alpha, the D language supported in, out, and inout parameter storage classes. They had the following meanings:

  • in (input), the default, was the bog standard function parameter which is a mutable copy of its argument, i.e., the normal passed-by-value parameter.
  • out (output) parameters were passed by reference and, upon function entry, initialized to the default initializer value for the parameter type (e.g., 0 for int, float.nan for float, etc).
  • inout (input/output) parameters were passed unmodified by reference.

When D2 came along, there were some changes. inout was replaced by the ref keyword and out kept the same meaning, but now there was an explicit restriction that these parameters could only take lvalue references; rvalue references, commonly used in C++, were forbidden as arguments. With in, things became a little muddy. And that brings us to scope parameters, a D2 feature that has evolved over time.

For quite some time, it was not fully implemented and only affected parameters that were delegates: the compiler would only allocate a closure for a scope delegate if it absolutely needed to. The D2 version of in was intended to be equivalent to const scope, but it was never fully implemented and was effectively equivalent to const. Today, scope is intended to be applied to ref or out parameters to prevent them from escaping the function scope, and with DMD 2.092.0, in finally became equivalent to const scope. In DMD 2.094.0, in has been reimagined and extended to solve the rvalue reference issue.

The first thing to know about the new in is that it’s still equivalent to const scope, but now the compiler is free to choose whether to pass an in parameter’s argument by reference or by value. The second thing to know is that in parameters can now take rvalue references. All of this is implemented behind the -preview=in command line switch first introduced in 2.092.0.

Like any preview feature, the new in may or may not make it into the language proper, and if it does it might not be without changes. But for now, it’s there and waiting to be put through its paces. The more people using it, pushing it, and looking for holes, the sooner we can know if this is the in we’re looking for.

Ddoc Markdown support

Quite a while ago, Ddoc, D’s built-in documentation syntax, was enhanced to support some Markdown features. It was hidden beind a -preview switch. Now, that switch is no longer necessary—Ddoc supports Markdown out of the box.

Note that this is not full-on Markdown. For example, although asterisks are supported for italic and bold text, underscores are not. But Markdown-style links, code blocks, inline code, and images are supported. For the details, see the Documentation Generator documentation.

More speed please

Since the release of DMD 2.091.0, the DMD binaries in the Windows release packages are being compiled with LDC. This is a good thing because LDC has a better optimizer than DMD, which makes DMD’s fast compile times even faster. Now, LDC is used to compile binary releases on Linux, OSX, and FreeBSD. As a side effect, there are now no more 32-bit releases for FreeBSD, and additional binary tools are no longer included. If you need them, you can still pick them up from https://digitalmars.com/ or from older DMD releases.

Download

The latest release of DMD is always available for download at https://dlang.org/download.html. The latest Beta or Release Candidate can always be found there as well. You can also find links to download LDC and GDC, the GCC-based D compiler (which is now an official component of GCC). While you’re there, if you enjoy the D programming language, consider leaving a tip to the D Language Foundation.

DConf Online 2020 Schedule

DConf Online 2020 is coming together nicely. Over the two days of November 21 and 22, we have nine prerecorded talks, a livestream Q & A with the language maintainers, and a livecoding session. We’ll also be bringing our annual real-world BeerConf to the virtual world.

The talks

The prerecorded talks will be scheduled to premiere on our YouTube channel at the UTC times listed on the schedule. For the duration of each talk and for 15 minutes after, each speaker will be avalailable in a separate livestream for questions and answers related to the talk. We want to record the questions and answers verbally for posterity. The idea is that viewers of the prerecorded talk can ask questions in the video’s chat, or ask in the livestream chat during or up to 15 minutes after the talk. The speaker will read the questions out loud. Short answers will be provided both verbally and in the chat. Longer answers will be provided verbally only. Commenters asking questions during the talk will be notified in the chat if their questions were selected so that they don’t have to tab out to the Q & A and miss a portion of the talk. They can go back and watch the Q & A video later on our YouTube channel.

The livestream Q & A with the language maintainers will run on our YouTube channel. We’ll be streaming a video conference call and questions will be taken from the livestream chat. During the livestream, some viewers will be invited to join in on the conference call and ask their question directly in order to provide more opportunity for follow up and feedback. Details on how to participate will be released on the day of the livestream.

Throughout the weekend, we’ll be handing out prizes to random viewers. Eligibility details will be provided during the course of the event, so pay attention!

BeerConf

BeerConf is a real-world DConf tradition dating back to the first edition of the conference, though the name didn’t come around until Ethan Watson coined it a few years later. Every year, we designate a gathering spot where DConf attendees can mingle every evening to unwind. The DConf days are where we all wear our D programmer hats and spend our time talking about our favorite programming language, but BeerConf is our chance to be human. We still talk about D, but we also have the opportunity to go beyond the code and get to know each other on a more personal level.

So for DConf Online, we’re taking BeerConf online. On the evening (UTC) of Friday, November 20, we’ll open the BeerConf video conference to any and all, and we’ll leave it open all weekend. Despite the name, no alcohol is required to participate. All you need is an internet connection and a web browser, and you can come and go as you please. We’ve been running monthly BeerConf events since June of this year, so we know that, though it’s not quite the same as being in the same place, it’s still a lot of fun.

We hope to see you November 20–22 in BeerConf and DConf!

Symmetry Autumn of Code

We are currently running our third annual Symmetry Autumn of Code (SAOC). Sponsored by Symmetry Investments, the event provides an opportunity for D programmers to make a little money working on projects aimed at improving the D ecosystem. Particpants each get paid $1000 for the successful completion of each of three milestones. At the end of a fourth milestone, the progress of each participant will be evaluated by the SAOC committee, then one participant will be awarded a final $1000 payment, and receive free registration and reimbursement for transportation and lodging for the next real-world DConf.

We currently have four programmers coding away toward their goals. Milestone 1 has just come to an end and Milestone 2 is set to begin. The participants will soon be sending in their milestone reports, their mentors will send in progress evaluations, and the SAOC Committee will review it all to determine if everyone has put forth the effort required to continue through the event (we expect no issues on that front!). You can follow the progress of each participant, and perhaps provide them with some timely advice, through their weekly updates in the D General Forum. Search for “SAOC2020”.

Symmetry Investments and the D Language Foundation are Hiring

Digital Mars D logo

The D Language Foundation is hiring! Thanks to generous funding from Symmetry Investments, we are looking to fill two (mostly) non-programming positions geared toward improving the D ecosystem. Symmetry is also offering a bounty for a specific improvement to DUB, the D build tool and package manager. And on top of all of that, they are hiring D programmers.

D Pull Request/Issue Manager

A lot of good work goes into the D Programming Language GitHub repositories. Unfortunately, some of that good work sometimes gets left behind. A similar story can be told for our Bugzilla database, where some issues are fixed almost as soon as they’re reported and others fall victim to a lack of attention. Efforts have been made in the past to tidy things up, but without someone in a position to permanently keep at it, it’s a task that is never complete.

The D Language Foundation is looking for one or two motivated individuals to take on that permanent position, get the work done, and keep things running smoothly. Symmetry Investements is generously funding this role with $50,000 per year for one person, or $25,000 per year for each of two.

The ideal candidate is someone who:

  • is familiar with git, GitHub, and Bugzilla;
  • is familiar enough with D to be able to review simple pull requests;
  • is able to recognize when more specialized reviews are required and
  • is able to proofread English text (for reviewing documentation and web site pull requests).

Examples of the role’s responsibilities include:

  • ensuring all pull requests follow procedure;
  • reviewing simple pull requests;
  • finding appropriate reviewers for more complex pull requests;
  • ensuring that pull requests are reviewed in a timely manner;
  • reviving stale pull requests;
  • coordinating between pull request submitters and reviewers to prevent pull requests from going stale;
  • closing pull requests that are no longer valid;
  • identifying Bugzilla issues that are duplicates or invalid;
  • identifying Bugzilla issues that are candidates for bounties;
  • publicizing Bugzilla issues in need of a champion and
  • other related tasks.

We are hoping to hire from within the D community, though we will accept queries from anyone. If you are interested in taking on the role, please send your resume to social@dlang.org. You should also indicate if you are willing to do the job full time (just you) or part time (share the responsibilities with someone else).

Community Relations Assistant

I’ve been working with the D Language Foundation for the past three years. Much of what I do falls loosely in the category of Community Relations. These days, I’m in need of an assistant. Symmetry Investments is providing $600 per month for the role.

The job will involve a number of different activities as the need arises, such as:

  • seeking out guest authors and projects to highlight for the D Blog;
  • monitoring our social media accounts;
  • sending out messages from the D Language Foundation (such as thank you notes to new donors);
  • assisting with maintenance of pages at dlang.org and dconf.org;
  • assisting with the organization of events like DConf and SAOC and
  • any odd jobs that pop up now and again.

If you have good communication skills, an optimistic disposition, and enthusiasm for the D Programming Language, I’d like to talk to you. I don’t need a resume. Instead, please send an email to social@dlang.org explaining why you’re the right person for the job.

DUB Bounty

Symmetry Investments logoDUB has become a critical component in the D ecosystem. A significant number of projects depend on it and we need it to be able to meet a wide range of project needs. To that end, there are certainly improvements to be made. One such is in how DUB determines which of a project’s source files are in need of recompilation. Currently, DUB follows in the tradition of the venerable make and uses timestamp comparisons to make that determination.

A new generation of version control and build tools (git, buck, bazel, scons, waf, plz, and more) rely on file checksums to assess the need for action. This is a much more robust approach because it detects actual changes in file content. Timestamps can change in any number of irrelevant ways. Robustness is important if one is to depend on a build working properly even when files are moved, copied, and shared across people, machines, and teams. As hashes are fast to compute on modern hardware, the impact on speed is very low.

Symmetry Investments is offering a $2,000 bounty to the programmer who either converts DUB’s use of timestamp-dependent builds to use SHA-1 hashing throughout, or implements it as a global option to preserve the current behavior.

For inspiration, see this clip from Linus Torvald’s Google talk, and the article Build-Systems Should Use Hashes Over Timestamps. Note that shasum $(git ls-files) in Phobos takes 0.05 seconds on a warm SSD drive in a desktop machine.

Anyone interested in taking on this bounty should contact social@dlang.org beforehand. Anyone interested in contributing to the bounty amount can do so via the bounty card Support for Hash-Based Recompilation in DUB at our Task Bounties page.

Symmetry Autumn of Code 2020 Projects and Participants

Symmetry Investments logoThe verdict is in! Five programmers will be participating in the 2020 edition of the Symmetry Autumn of Code. Over the next three weeks, they will be working with their mentors to take the goals they outlined in their applications and turn them into concrete tasks across four milestones. Then, on September 15th, the first milestone gets under way.

Throughout the event, anyone can follow the progress of each project through the participants’ weekly updates in the General forum. Please don’t ignore those posts! You might be able to offer suggestions to help them along the way.

And now a little about the SAOC 2020 participants and their projects.

  • Robert Aron is a fourth-year Computer Science student at University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest. For his project, he’ll be implementing D client libraries for the Google APIs. When it’s complete, we’ll be able to interact with Google service APIs, such as GDrive, Calendar, Search, and GMail, directly from D. The goal is to complete the project by the end of the event.
  • Michael Boston is currently developing a game in D. For his SAOC project, he’ll be taking some custom data structures he’s developed and adapting them to be more generic. The ultimate goal is to get Michael’s modified implementation merged into Phobos. Should that not happen, the library will still be part of the D ecosystem once it’s complete.
  • Mihaela Chirea is a fourth-year Computer Engineering student at University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest. Mihaela will spend SAOC 2020 improving DMD as a library. Part of this project will involve soliciting community feedback regarding proposed changes, so anyone interested in using DMD as a library should keep an eye out for Mihaela’s posts in the D forums.
  • Teona Severin is a first-year master’s degree student at University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest who will be working on a mini DRuntime in order to bring D to low-performance microcontrollers based on ARM Cortex-M CPUs. Currently, D can run on such systems when compiled as -betterC, but the end goal of this project is to get enough of a functional DRuntime to write “a simple application that actively uses a class.“
  • Adela Vais is yet another fourth-year Computer Engineering student at University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest. For her project, she’ll be implementing a new D backend for GNU Bison. Currently, Bison has an experimental LALR1 parser for D. Adela’s implementation will be a GLR parser intended to overcome the limitations of the LALR1 parser.

The strong showing from Bucharest is down to the work of Razvan Nitzu and Eduard Staniloiu. They have introduced a number of students to the D programming language and encouraged them in seeking out projects beneficial both to their education and to the D community. Plus, Razvan and Edi will be participating in SAOC 2020 as mentors.

On behalf of the SAOC 2020 committee, the D Language Foundation, and Symmetry Investments, I want to thank everyone who submitted an application and wish the participants the best of luck in the coming months.

Deadlines and New Swag

SAOC 2020 Application Deadline

Symmetry Investments logoThe deadline for Symmetry Autumn of Code (SAOC) 2020 applications is on August 16th. There’s work to be done and money to be paid (courtesy of Symmetry Investments). If you know of a project that can keep an eager programmer busy for at least 20 hours a week over the course of four months, please advertise it in the forums and add it to the project ideas list if it isn’t already there.

As for potential applicants, remember that experience with D is not necessary. Experience with another language can be transferred to D “on the job”, with a mentor to guide the way. Tell your friends and spread the word to other programming communities. This is a great way to bring new faces to the D community and the new ideas they may bring with them. All the information on how to apply and how to become a mentor is available on the SAOC 2020 page.

DConf Online 2020 Swag

DConf Online 2020 Logo

The DConf Online 2020 submission deadline of August 31 will be here before we know it. If you haven’t put a submission together yet, head over to the DConf Online 2020 home page (and/or the announcement here on the blog) for the details on what we’re looking for and how to go about it. Everyone whose submission is accepted for the event schedule will receive a t-shirt and coffee mug to commemorate the occasion.

For everyone else, those t-shirts and mugs are on sale now at the DLang Swag Emporium along with tote bags and stickers. Remember, all of the money we raise through the store goes straight into the General Fund, which we’ll dip into to provide DConf Online 2020 speakers with their free stuff and a few lucky viewers with prizes. Donations made directly to the General Fund, or to any of our ongoing campaigns, are also greatly appreciated.

DConf Online 2020: Call For Submissions

DConf Online 2020 LogoDConf Online 2020 is happening November 21 & 22, 2020 in your local web browser! We are currently taking submissions for pre-recorded talks, livstreamed panels, and livecoding events. See the DConf Online 2020 web site for details on how you can participate. Keep reading here for more info on how it came together and what we hope to achieve, as well as for a reminder about the 2020 edition of the Symmetry Autumn of Code (the SAOC 2020 registration deadline is just over three weeks away!).

Maybe Next Time, London!

Due to the onset of COVID-19, the D Language Foundation and Symmetry Investments decided in early March to cancel DConf 2020, which had been scheduled to take place June 17–20 in London. DConf has been the premiere D programming language event every year since 2013, the one chance for members of the D community from around the world to gather face-to-face outside of their local meetups for four days of knowledge sharing and comradery. It was a painful decision, but the right one. As of now, we can’t say for sure there will be a DConf 2021, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely.

Immediately upon reaching the decision to cancel DConf, the obvious question arose of whether we should take the conference online. It was something none of the DConf organizers had any experience with, so we were unwilling to commit to anything until we could figure out a way to go about it that makes sense for our community. As time progressed and we explored our options, the idea became more attractive. Finally, we settled on an approach that we think will work for our community while still allowing outsiders to easily drop by to get a look at our favorite programming language.

We also decided that this is not going to be an online substitute for the real-world DConf. That’s why we’ve named it DConf Online 2020 and not DConf 2020 Online. We’re planning to make this an annual event. The real-world DConf will still take place in spring or summer (barring pandemics or other unforeseen circumstances), and DConf Online six months or so later. Without the DConf cancellation, we never would have reached this point, so for us that’s a bit of a bright side to these dark days.

DConf on YouTube

DConf Online will take place on the D Language Foundation’s YouTube Channel. The event will kick off with a pre-recorded keynote from Walter Bright, the creator and co-maintainer of D, on November 21, scheduled to premiere at a yet-to-be-determined time. Other pre-recorded talks will be scheduled to premiere throughout the weekend, including a Day Two keynote on November 22 from co-maintainer Átila Neves. Presenters from the pre-recorded talks will be available for livestreamed question and answer sessions just as they would be in the real-world DConf.

We’ll also be livestreaming an Ask Us Anything session, a DConf tradition, with Walter and Átila. We’re looking for other ideas for livestream panels. Anyone submitting a panel proposal should either be willing to moderate the panel or have already found someone to commit to the position.

And we really, really want to have at least two livecoding sessions. Anyone familiar with D who has experience livecoding is welcome to submit a proposal. Ideally, we’re looking for sessions that present a solid demonstration of D in use, preferably a small project designed exclusively for the livestream, something that can be developed from start to finish in no more than 90 minutes. We aren’t looking for tutorial style sessions that go into great detail on a feature or two (though that sort of thing is great for a pre-recorded talk submission!), but something that shows how a D program comes together and what D features look like in action.

Everything you need to know to submit a pre-recorded talk, panel, or livecoding session to the D Language Foundation can be found at the DConf Online 2020 web site. We’ll have more details here and on the web site in the coming weeks as our plans solidify. Oh, and everyone whose submission is accepted will receive some swag from the DLang Swag Emporium (DConf Online 2020 swag is coming soon).

BeerConf

It’s a DConf tradition that a gathering spot is selected where attendees can get together each evening for drinks, food, and conversation. For many attendees, this is a highlight of the conference. The opportunity to engage in conversation with so many smart, like-minded people is not one to be missed. Ethan Watson dubbed these evening soirees “BeerConf”, and the name has stuck.

Recently, Ethan and other D community members have been gathering for a monthly online #BeerConf. Given that it’s such an integral part of the DConf experience, we hope to make use of the lessons they’re learning to run a BeerConf in parallel to DConf Online, starting on the 20th. Despite the name, no one will be expected to drink alcohol of any kind. It’s all about getting together to socialize as close to face-to-face as we can get online.

More details regarding BeerConf will be announced closer to the conference dates, so keep an eye on the blog!

SAOC 2020

Symmetry Autumn of Code is an annual event where a handful of lucky programmers get paid to write some D code. Sponsored by Symmetry Investments, SAOC 2020 is the third edition of the event. Although priority is given to university students, SAOC is open to anyone over 18.

Applicants send a project proposal and a short bio to the D Language Foundation. Those who are selected will be required to work on their project at least 20 hours per week from September 15, 2020, until January 15, 2021. The event consists of four milestones. Participants who meet their goals for the first three milestones will each receive a payment of $1000. For the fourth milestone, the SAOC Committee will evaluate each participant’s progress for the entire event. On that basis, one will be selected to receive a final $1000 payment and a free trip to the next real-world DConf (no registration fee; travel and lodging expenses reimbursed on the same terms as offered to DConf speakers). The lucky participant will be asked to submit a proposal for the same DConf they attend, but their proposal will be evaluated in the same manner as all proposals (i.e., acceptance is not guaranteed), but they are guaranteed free registration and reimbursement regardless.

Although Roberto Romaninho, our SAOC 2019 selectee, was robbed of the opportunity to attend DConf 2020, he will still be eligible to make use of his reward at our next real-world event along with the 2020 selectee. Francesco Gallà, who was selected in the inaugural SAOC 2018, gave a presentation about his project and the SAOC experience at DConf 2019. The runner up, Franceso Mecca, wrote about his own project for the D Blog.

SAOC 2020 applications are open until August 16. See the SAOC 2020 page for all the details on how to apply.

SAOC 2020 and Other News

Symmetry Autumn of Code 2020

Symmetry Investments logo

The 3rd annual Symmetry Autumn of Code (SAoC) is on!

From now until August 16th, we’re accepting applications from motivated coders interested in getting paid to improve the D ecosystem. The SAoC committee will review all submissions and, based on the quality of the applications received, select a number of applicants to complete four milestones from September 15th to January 15th. Each participant will receive $1000 for the successful completion of each of the first three milestones, and one of them will receive an additional $1000 and a free trip (reimbursement for transportation and accommodation, and free registration) to the next real-world DConf (given the ongoing pandemic, we can’t yet be sure when that will be).

Anyone interested in programming D is welcome to apply, but preference will be given to those who can provide proof of enrollment in undergraduate or postgraduate university programs. For details on how to apply, see the SAoC 2020 page here at the D Blog.

The participants will need mentors, so we invite experienced D programmers interested in lending a hand to get in touch and to keep an eye out in the forums for any SAoC applicants in search of a mentor. As with the previous edition of SAoC, all mentors whose mentee completes the event will be guaranteed a one-time payment of $500 after the final milestone (mentors of unsuccessful mentees may still be eligible for the payment at the discretion of the SAoC committee). Potential mentors can follow the same link for details on their responsibilities and how to make themselves available.

We’re also looking for community input on potential SAoC projects. If there’s any work you’re aware of that needs doing in the D ecosystem and which may keep a lone coder occupied for 20 hours per week over four months, please let us know! Once again, details on how submit your suggestions and what sort of information we’re looking for can be found on the SAoC 2020 page.

Our SAoC 2019 selectee, Roberto Rosmaninho, was all set to attend DConf 2020 and we were all looking forward to meeting him. He’ll still be eligible to claim his free DConf trip at the next available opportunity.

SAoC would not be possible without the generosity of Symmetry Investments. A big thanks to them for once again funding this event and for the other ways, both financial and otherwise, they contribute back to the D programming language community.

Finances

Thanks to everyone who has shopped in the DLang Swag Emporium! To date, the D Language Foundation has received over $177 in royalties and referral fees. Thanks are also in order to those who have supported the foundation through smile.amazon.com. Your purchases have brought over $288 into the General Fund. Amazon Smile is perhaps the easiest way to support D financially if you shop through Amazon’s .com domain (the D Language Foundation is unavailable in other Amazon domains). If you’ve never done so, you can select a charitable foundation (the D Language Foundation, of course) on your first visit to smile.amazon.com. Then, every time you shop through that link, the foundation will receive a small percentage of your total purchase. Check your browser’s extension market for plugins that convert every amazon.com link to a smile.amazon.com link!

On the Task Bounties front, we may have closed out a big bounty for bringing D to iOS and iPadOS, but there are still several other bounties waiting to be claimed. The latest, currently at $220, is a bounty to improve DLL support on Windows by closing two related Bugzilla issues; 50% of the total bounty will be paid for the successful closure (merged PR and DMD release) of each issue. We welcome anyone interested in fixing these issues to either up the bounty or roll up their sleeves and start working toward claiming it. If you’d like to contribute to multiple bounties with a single credit card payment, or seed one or more new bounties with a specific amount, visit the Task Bounty Catch-All and follow the instructions there.

Finally, the question was recently raised in the forums about how to view the D Language Foundation’s finances. Because the foundation is a 501(3)(c) non-profit public charity, the Form 990 that the organization is required to submit to the IRS every year is publicly available. There are different ways you can obtain the documents for multiple years, such as searching online databases or contacting the IRS directly. Several websites, such as grantspace.org, provide details on how to do so. The Form 990 does not break down specific expenditures or sources of income except for special circumstances (like scholarship payments). With Andrei’s help, I’m currently working on gathering up more information on the past five years of the foundation’s finances so that we can put up an overview page at dlang.org. It won’t be at line-item detail, but we hope to provide a little more detail than the Form 990. I can’t provide a timeline on when it will be available (I don’t consider it a high priority task, so I’m working on it sporadically), but expect it sometime in the next few months.

DConf Online?

Rumor has it that online conferences are actually a thing. Voices in the wind speak of the potential for an annual event related to D. I don’t usually listen to voices I hear in the wind, but this time I’m intrigued…

News Update: Swag, Platforms, Documentation Help and More

Here are a few updates on things that have been going on both in front of and behind the scenes of the D Programming Language community.

New D Swag

We’ve got some new items in the DLang Swag Emporium: t-shirts, coffee mugs, and stickers sporting the Royal D logo. (If all Royal D items aren’t showing up for you in the Royal D category, check the D Rocket category. Everything should be in the correct location in a day or two).

You may notice that there are fewer options on the product page than for the other items, i.e. only one mug and sticker, and no dark tee option. They are available, though! When you select one of the existing products, you can change the style of the selection to one of several options. Beware! This may also change the price.

Remember, a small percentage of every item you order from the DLang Swag Emporium goes into the D Language Foundation’s General Fund. Plus, if you click through the link above or on the blog’s sidebar, we’ll get an additional referral fee on top of the item royalty. It’s an easy way to both get some D swag and contribute a few bucks to the Foundation.

Expanded Platform Progress

You maybe aware that some work has been ongoing in getting D onto more platforms. Adam Ruppe was working on contract to get LDC’s Android support to the finish line. He wrapped things up a few weeks back and has been paid out of the Foundation’s HR Fund.

Sebastiaan Koppe has been working on contract to get DRuntime ported to WebAssembly. Progress is ongoing and we currently expect it to be mostly wrapped up by the end of March. Like Adam, he’ll be out of the HR Fund when the contract is complete.

Work is also underway to bring LDC to iOS and iPadOS. We had been hoping to get someone to work on contract for this, but there are few people we know who are familiar enough with the platform to get it done and we were unable to find anyone then with the time to work on it. So we put up a bounty for it and kept our fingers crossed.

Recently, you may have seen forum posts from Jacob Carlborg indicating he’s been working on it in his spare time. Some preliminary support was merged in the LDC 1.20.0 release. Although he isn’t working under contract, he is working toward the bounty. That means anyone who wants to support him can contribute by increasing the bounty. Two contributors have already done so. The base amount of $3000 will be taken from the HR Fund when the work is complete.

And speaking of bounties, there are several others waiting for someone to claim them!

The HR Fund

With one payout from the fund and two coming up, we need to replenish it so we can always have cash earmarked for more contract work and bounties. You can make one-time or recurring donations of any amount directly and receive the same rewards available on our Open Collective page, or you can use a different link to make a $60 donation and get a DConf 2019 t-shirt in return. We’ve still got a few shirts available, so help us get rid of them and boost the HR Fund at the same time!

Documentation Event

Behind-the-scenes discussions about ideas to improve the D ecosystem in one way or another are frequently cycling through the inboxes of the people who can make them happen. Most never see the light of day, but there is one that has great potential. If it all comes together, I’ll be able to announce it in the coming weeks. We need your help to make that happen.

We need some specifics regarding areas where the documentation for D and items in the the D ecosystem is lacking. For example, people often complain about inconsistencies in the D spec, and missing info or examples in the DUB and vibe.d docs.

I’ve started a thread in the D forums where you can post your gripes about incomplete/missing/lackluster documentation. Remember, we need you to be specific. Just saying “the DUB docs are incomplete” doesn’t help. What specifically is missing? Or what specifically is wrong? The more information you can provide the better. And the more examples we can collect the better. The goal is to be able to define specific documentation tasks that anyone with the requisite knowledge can complete.

If we can get enough examples with enough detail, then I should be able to announce a new event sponsored by one of our generous benefactors. And I really want to be able to announce it!

DConf 2020

We really want to see a flood of talk submissions this year. If you’ve never been to DConf, or never presented at any conference, don’t let that stop you! Send us your submission and you may end up with a free trip to the conference.

Also, if you pay for an early-bird registration now (a 15% discount over the regular registration rate) and your talk is selected later, we’ll reimburse your registration fee. So if you’re planning to attend the conference even if your talk isn’t selected, it’s a good idea to register now and avoid the risk of missing the early-bird deadline.

We’re also offering once again the Open Source and Academic Discount; if you are a major open source contributor, a student, or an academic, we’ll give you a 50% discount on the regular registration rate. If you think you qualify, please don’t hesitate to take advantage of it by contacting social@dlang.org (or you can contact me directly at aldacron@gmail.com) for details on how to take advantage.

Finally, we never want to leave anyone out of DConf because they can’t afford to pay. This has been a policy of Walter’s from the beginning. If you are in or around London June 17 – 20 and would like to attend DConf but are unable to afford the registration and/or don’t qualify for the special discount, please email one of the addresses above and we’ll work something out.

DConf 2020: Submission Deadline, Early-Bird Registration, and Invited Keynote

In early January, I announced that Symmetry Investments is bringing DConf back to London for our 2020 edition. At the same time, I said we’d start taking submissions from anyone who wanted to send them in. In the interim, we’ve fixed our deadlines and prepared to start accepting reservations. There was only one thing remaining before I was ready for the formal call for submissions and opening of early-bird registrations: confirming our invited keynote speaker. Now that he has confirmed, it’s all official!

Invited Keynote

We’re excited to welcome Roberto Ierusalimschy to DConf 2020! You may know him from his work as the leading architect of the Lua programming language. He’s the author of Programming in Lua and an Associate Professor of Computer Science at PUC-Rio (the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro).

We don’t know yet what his talk will about, but it can be about any topic he wants. We’ll have more information on that for you when we publish the schedule of all selected talks after April 19.

Call for Submissions

We are accepting submissions for DConf 2020 until April 12. Authors will be notified of their final status by April 19.

We’re eager to see some new faces on the stage this year. If you’ve never presented at a DConf before, please don’t hesitate to send us one or more submissions. One person has already sent in seven!

Unless you’re Roberto Ierusalimschy, we prefer topics that are directly or indirectly related to D. We aren’t intransigent, though, so we’re willing to consider other topics. If someone sends us a proposal that isn’t about D but piques our collective interest, we’ll certainly give it serious consideration.

Having a talk selected is a great way to get to DConf if you’re on a budget. You’ll pay no registration fee, plus we’ll reimburse your transportation and lodging costs (within reason—five-star hotels and business- or first-class plane tickets aren’t on the menu). That’s a pretty good deal.

You can find instructions for writing and submitting your submissions on the DConf 2020 homepage.

Early-Bird Registration

Early-bird registration is available at $340, which is 15% off the regular $400 rate. Because we’re being sponsored by Symmetry in London once more, we once again must include a 20% VAT. So the total early-bird rate is $408 (similarly, the regular rate with VAT will be $480). We’re required by UK law to show you the basic rate and VAT in GBP based on the current HMRC exchange rate. That changes every month, so you can see the latest GPB rates in the registration section of the DConf 2020 homepage.

There, you’ll find options for Flipcause and PayPal. From our perspective, we prefer you use our Flipcause form. That gives you the option to cover the credit card processing fee for us so that 100% of your payment can be put toward DConf expenses. If you choose to uncheck that option, that’s fine, too! It will still save us from paying other fees. Every penny we can put toward the expenses helps.

If you do choose to go through PayPal, you have an option for USD and one for GBP. Some registrants told me last year that they get a GBP option even when clicking the USD button. And of course, some register with GBP-based credit cards. However, the GBP button on the DConf 2020 homepage is a fixed amount based on the current HMRC exchange rate. It changes, but only once a month. It may turn out to be cheaper for you than the rate you get from PayPal or your credit card provider. Of course, it could turn out to be more expensive, so if you’re looking to save a few pounds, you may want to investigate the different exchange rates if they apply to your situation.

And Now For Something Completely Different

DConf isn’t the only event Symmetry Investments is sponsoring these days. We recently wrapped up the 2019 edition of the Symmetry Autumn of Code.

This year, we started with five participants working on five interesting projects. Each participant was to complete a total of four milestones over four months with guidance from a mentor. At the successful completion of the first three milestones, each participant would receive $1000. At the end of the fourth and final milestone, one participant would be selected to receive one more $1000 payment and an all-expense paid trip to DConf.

As the event played out, we lost one of the participants at the end of Milestone 2. Two more were unable to fully commit to the Milestone 4 deadline (though they promised to continue working on their projects after SAOC). That left two participants for the SAOC review committee to select from. It was a very difficult decision, as both participants did excellent work and received glowing evaluations from their mentors.

Now I can announce that the SAOC 2019 finalist was Roberto Rosmaninho!

Roberto, with his mentor Nicholas Wilson, worked on adding support for Multi-Level Intermediate Representation (MLIR) to LDC, the LLVM-based D compiler. He is currently working on putting together pull requests for LDC and intends to work on optimizations going forward. He has also confirmed that he will take advantage of his reward so that we will have at least two Robertos at DConf this year.

As we did last year with Francesco Gallà, the SAOC 2018 finalist, we’ve asked Roberto to submit a talk this year. He promised to do so. We can’t promise his talk will be selected (though the odds are high out of the gate), but he still gets a free trip if it isn’t! Besides, we’re looking forward to meeting him.

On behalf of the D Language Foundation and Symmetry Investments, I want to thank everyone who participated in SAOC 2019. Keep an eye on this blog for news about future events.

Now go prep your DConf 2020 submissions!