The Wikimedia Foundation, the American non-profit organization that owns the internet domain names of many movement projects and hosts sites like Wikipedia, has decided to migrate their code repositories from Gerrit to Gitlab. Slashdot reader nfrankel shares the announcement: For the past two years, our developer satisfaction survey has shown that there is some level of dissatisfaction with Gerrit, our code review system. This dissatisfaction is particularly evident for our volunteer communities. The evident dissatisfaction with code review, coupled with an internal review of our CI tooling and practice makes this an opportune moment to revisit our code review choices. While Gerrit’s workflow is in many respects best-in-class, its interface suffers from usability deficits, and its workflow differs from mainstream industry practices. This creates barriers to entry for the community and slows onboarding for WMF technical staff. In addition, there are a growing number of individuals and teams (both staff and non-staff) who are opting to forgo the use of Gerrit and instead use a third-party hosted option such as GitHub. Reasons vary for the choice to use third-party hosting but, based on informal communication, there are 3 main groupings: lower friction to create new repositories; easier setup and self-service of Continuous Integration configuration; and more familiarity with pull-request style workflows.
All these explanations point to friction in our existing code-review system slowing development rather than fostering it. The choice to use third-party code-hosting hurts our collaboration (both internal and external), adds to the confusion of onboarding, and makes it more difficult to maintain code standards across repositories. At the same time, there is a requirement that all software which is deployed to Wikimedia production is hosted and deployed from Gerrit. If we fail to address the real usability problems that users have with Gerrit, people will continue to launch and build projects on whatever system it is they prefer — Wikimedia’s GitHub already contains 152 projects, the Research team has 127 projects.
This raises the question: if Gerrit has identifiable problems, why can’t we solve those problems in Gerrit? Gerrit is open source (Apache licensed) software; modifications are a simple matter of programming. […] Upstream has improved the UI in recent releases, and releases have become more frequent; however, upgrade path documentation is often lacking. The migration from Gerrit 2 to Gerrit 3, for example, required several upstream patchsets to avoid the recommended path of several days of downtime. This is the effort required to maintain the status quo. Even small improvements require effort and time as, often, our use-case is very different from the remainder of the Gerrit community.