I've already spent a bunch of time working on the packaging (as in what will end up in the .tar.gz distribution files) of atf even though it is still in very preliminary stages of development. This involved:
  • Preparing a clean and nice build framework, which due to the tools I'm using meant writing the configure.ac and Makefile.am files. This involved adding some useful comments and, despite I'm familiar with these tools, re-reading part of the GNU Automake and GNU Autoconf manuals; this last step is something that many, many developers bypass and therefore end up with really messy scripts as if they weren't important. (Read: if the package used some other tools, there'd be no reason to not write pretty and clean build files.)
  • Preparing the package's documentation, or at least placeholders for it: I'm referring to the typical AUTHORS, COPYING, NEWS, README and TODO documents that many developers seem to treat as garbage and fill them up at the last minute before flushing out a release, ending with badly formatted texts full of typos. Come on, that's the very first thing a user will see after unpacking a distribution file, so these ought to be pretty!
Having spent a lot of time packaging software for pkgsrc and dealing with source code from other projects, I have to say that I've found dozens of packages that do not have the minimum quality one can expect in the above points. I don't like to pinpoint, but I have to: this includes several GNOME packages and the libspe. This last one is fairly "interesting" because the user documentation for it is high-quality, but all the credibility slips away when you look at the source code packaging...

To all those authors:
“Programs should be written and polished until they acquire publication quality.” — Niklaus Wirth

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