IATI Code

What is IATI Code?

IATI Code is defined as code that the IATI Technical Team look after directly.

This may be custom code that has been written specifically to perform tasks for IATI, or it could be ‘off the shelf’ code that we need to maintain and update in order for it run smoothly. Some of it will be standalone applications, some of it could be customisations to other people’s projects/code.

Some code directly powers projects/web applications. Other code may be command line tools that, for example, process IATI data locally, or that are ‘recipes’ for API’s such as for communicating with the CKAN API.

There may also be code that the IATI team does not own, but makes a commitment to contributing to. We should also bear this in mind when talking about IATI code.

It is important for IATI to work out which code it is responsible for resourcing.

So which code are we talking about?

Generally IATI Code can be found here: https://github.com/IATI

There may be rare instances of code that have yet to make it into the GitHub organisation account, but it is our desire and intention for all IATI code to be there.

Code Checklist

We have agreed a set of ‘coding principles’, which provide a framework that allows us to check that our code is being well managed. As such we are able to audit each project that we maintain against our IATI Code Checklist.

Managing Code

Since we are clear about which code is ours to nurture, and with a framework in place against which we test the health of our code, we want to make sure our code is:

  • transferable - i.e. it could easily be handed over, or new staff could quickly understand it.
  • sustainable - i.e. properly resourced, future proofed, planned
  • well managed - i.e. our code is working for us

The following lays out some detail about how the IATI Technical Team has chosen to work in order to achieve this.

GitHub

GitHub provides a place to ‘host’ code within a well known structure, with access to key tools for managing that code:

  • issues
  • milestones
  • version control

etc - most of the things an open source code project needs (See Communicating below)

External Testing Services

We use the following external services to test our code in various ways:

  • Travis - runs unit tests every time a commit is made
  • Coveralls - checks the coverage of those unit tests
  • Requires.io (Python specific) - tests to see whether the Python moudles listed in requirements.txt are up to date (see python_dependency_pinning for more)
  • Landscape (Python specific) - calculates the quality of the code using static analysis, and tracks this over time

A public link to the results of each of these service can be found at the top of the README of each covered project.

Domains

IATI Code often needs to be deployed on a web address. In the past IATI has suffered from having multiple domains and it has been hard for people to know where to find things.

Our current practices is to try to consolidate our applications, services, etc onto iatistandard.org where practically possible. Preferably we should be using subdomains.

Why subdomains?

When it comes to putting our work on the web we have a choice of using subdirectories, subdomains, or a new domain.

The problem with subdirectories (e.g. /validator, /query) won’t work well as different applications need different hosting requirements. We’re always going to need to ‘point’ at other servers. Subdirectories could proxy (but this is not good) or redirect (also not really very good) to other URLs.

The problem with domains is that applications and services can end up in many different places and therefore hard to find. New domains can be useful to distance applications from iatistandard if needed.

Licensing

IATI Code should be appropriately licensed.

Licences should be ‘open’ to allow re-use. The choice of licence is something to be discussed for each project.

Documentation licensing is also important.

Branding

IATI does not currently have a coherent policy on branding, but there are some established conventions that can be followed for code ‘owned’ by the Technical Team - e.g. there is a logo.

Communicating

The IATI Technical Team needs to talk about the development of IATI Code within the team, with other developers, bug reporters, and users of the software.

Internally we need to talk about our code, projects, tasks, bugs, etc - we may use third party services e.g. GitHub, or install third party tools that we manage in order to do this (e.g. Discourse).

Current communication options with other audiences are via:

  • the IATI Discussion Page, and
  • via GitHub (we use the ‘issues’ functionality to log feature requests, bugs and enhancements within each code repository).

Workplans

Each piece of code should have a workplan. This should be carried out via GitHub in the form of milestones and issues, wherever possible, keeping development, bugs etc in the public domain.