In praise of git and its hub: Bug fixing made easy.

I got an email from Craig Wright earlier today about Linux SPITBOL:

Dave, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I think I have found a minor bug (probably mostly cosmetic) in the version of Spitbol for Linux that you recently posted.

If you look at lines 7938/7947 of v38.min, you will find two minor errors:

7938 *
7939 * LISTING HEADER MESSAGE
7940 *
7941 HEADR DAC B$SCL
7942 DAC 25
7943 DTC /Macro SPITBOL Version 3.7/
7944 *
7945 HEADV DAC B$SCL FOR EXIT() VERSION NO. CHECK
7946 DAC 4
7947 DTC /3.8.1/

I think that line 7943 should be 3.8.1 and not 3.7 (perhaps 3.8 would be okay)

I think that line 7946 should be DAC 5 instead of DAC 4

I am sending you my comments by private email instead of posting them on the blog.

Java programmer, Spitbol lover since college at Ohio State, and woodturner (hobby only)
–Craig

He not only found the bug, he read the Minimal source, probably the first person to do so — except for old-time SPITBOL implementers like myself — in over a decade, and my new friend Craig even gave the correct fix!

This, by the way, is one of the reasons I *really* love open-source.

I put Craig’s advice into practice. I made his suggested edits, checked that SPITBOL still compiled, used his email as the basic text of the git commit message, pushed up the change to github, and then sent Craig a reply to his email.

All this took about five minutes.

The really nice thing is that github even makes the commit available as a separate URL. For example, see github commit 24e17d5bc730db168a6fe799012d3ece7d24041.

Not only do you see the commit LOG, you can also see the source changes that resulted from it.

This is *so* much better than how I did this over ten years ago in the Jikes days, when I had to extract text from email messages,fix the code, reply to the submitter, build a new release, run tests, create a tarball, update the web site, and so forth.

Today you just fix it, test it, and push it.

Your work is then automatically published in a form open to all, comments and source included, in a visual form very pleasing to the eye.

This is the kind of thing developers just love, and so it’s no surprise that the VC folks are starting to throw money at Github, because the VC’s know that *all* savvy open-source developers, and their code, will eventually be found at github.

The key point to me, as a developer, is not that github made my job easier. It is that by making it easier, and by displaying the work so well, github made it more likely that I would give credit where credit was due, and that is something we value dearly.

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