Debarshi's den

Thanking every contributor

with 5 comments

I am of the opinion that every contributor to a free software project should be thanked. No matter how prolific or sporadic. There are many ways to do it — having a section in the release notes is one common example, the AUTHORS file is another, or if it is a program with a graphical user interface of its own then the about dialog is a very good option. In fact, the about dialog is the best option because it is more persistent than the release notes (ie. does not change from one release to another), and is shinier than a plain AUTHORS file. Not to mention the fact that it is much more visible.

However, it is a pain. While there are scripts lying around to generate the credits for the release notes, I have not seen the same for the about dialog. No doubt it is outdated in every application, which is a shame.

We can do better. For Photos, I decided to generate the list from Git. First I generate an AUTHORS file, and then use it to create a pair of C header and source files which contain the array of strings that can be fed to gtk_about_dialog_set_authors. From now on every new contributor will see her name show up in the about dialog immediately after making her first commit.

It would be nice if this caught on and other application maintainers decided to do something similar.


Written by Debarshi Ray

16 August, 2012 at 22:43

5 Responses

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  1. Good idea!
    But you will duplicate the name of the translator in the “Authors” and “Translators” sections. Or Am I missing something?

    Javier Jardón (@jjardon)

    17 August, 2012 at 14:01

    • That is taken care of by using “git log src”. Currently it ignores build system fixes to and the top level, but those can be added to the arguments, if needed.

      Debarshi Ray

      17 August, 2012 at 19:41

  2. How about designers?


    17 August, 2012 at 20:30

    • Good question!

      If you look at that patch you will notice that I generate a C array of strings from the ARTISTS file too. However, the ARTISTS is not autogenerated from Git because that would not cover those who actually designed the UI/UX of the application, as compared to those who created the icons. So it is maintained manually, but the artists or designers don’t usually change so rapidly, so I guess it is reasonably ok.

      I left this out of the main blog because I thought I was beginning to ramble.

      Debarshi Ray

      17 August, 2012 at 23:44

  3. Hi,
    here is a variant that auto-updates the AUTHORS file:
    and a simplified way to include the AUTHORS list in the dialog sources:

    Stefan Sauer

    29 December, 2014 at 20:02

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