Notes on Maintaining FFmpeg Source Code
Like many open source projects FFmpeg code base is maintained by a group of volunteers. Given the size and diversity of the code contained in FFmpeg it is clear that it is not a fit for a single person to maintain all of the code.
Qualifying as a Maintainer
Original authors of a piece of code (can be anything from a function to an encoder to a build system feature) or contributors/reviewers that have shown a good understanding of the code are considered candidates for maintaining that code. Usually they will be asked by an FFmpeg developer on the ffmpeg-devel mailing list if they want to maintain it. But it is also possible to actively apply as a maintainer on the list.
There is also a different kind of maintenance that is dependent on the target platform (architecture/operating system/compiler). Obviously someone who wants to maintain a platform must have access to that platform.
Tasks of a Maintainer
Maintenance for software is a very different kind of maintenance then say for machines. So even though the term is probably a misnomer it is widely used amongst software developers. In FFmpeg maintainers should take care of the following tasks:
- reviewing patches on the ffmpeg-devel mailing list that touch their area of maintenance
- testing and integrating patches that pass review, into the maintainers git repository
- keeping their code in working condition as FFmpeg evolves and new versions of hardware, operating systems, libraries and compilers appear
- refactoring their code to enable further development or to reduce maintenance burden
The addition of new features or optimization of the code is not a maintenance task. It is perfectly fine for a maintainer to not do any active development (though most often maintainers are also active contributors).
It has proven to be quite handy for a maintainer to have a public Git clone of FFmpeg where she can publish experimental changes or accumulate patches for integration testing which will eventually get merged into the main line of development in the official FFmpeg Git repository.