RFC 83: guidelines for the use of GDAL project sponsorship


Even Rouault (with content from RFC 9)


even.rouault @ spatialys.com






Per RFC 80: NumFOCUS relationship and sponsorship program, the GDAL project benefits from a multi-year budget coming from sponsorship. This document formalizes guidelines for how that budget will be spent by the project and supersedes RFC 9: GDAL Paid Maintainer Guidelines

There are two different type of tasks that will be funded:

  • Day-to-day maintenance tasks. They will be filled by several co-maintainers.

  • Tasks to achieve a specific development

Day-to-day maintenance tasks


  • Bug tracker maintenance:

    • Validating completeness of bug reports to ensure reproducibility

    • Closing reports that don't respect the guidelines, or are invalid.

    • Tagging the issue with appropriate labels and milestones.

    • When a fix is relevant, addressing the issue with a pull request.

    • Adding / enhancing tests in the regression test suite should be done as much as practical

    • Tasks that are expected, or are found, to take more than a given time should be confirmed with the supervisor.

  • Continuous Integration maintenance and improvements: the project has several Continuous Integration configurations. Some of them break regularly due to external causes (network resources no longer available, change in dependencies, etc.). The co-maintainer will take the necessary actions to keep them in working state.

  • Review of code and documentation contributions. Such contributions are made currently through GitHub pull requests. The co-maintainer will review the contribution and guide the proponent through the steps to make it accepted: identifying issues reported by Continuous Integration, asking for new tests to be developed whenever possible, etc. When the contributor is not in capacity to polish his/her contribution, the co-maintainer may do it themself.

  • Ensuring that fixes that are appropriate for backporting in stable branche(s) are backported.

  • Monitoring of project communication channels (mailing list, IRC, Slack channels, etc.). The co-maintainer will in particular identify issues that are reported through those means and ensures that they are captured by a corresponding ticket. The co-maintainer may also occasionally answer questions on usage of the library and tools, but in-depth support of users is not in the scope of the covered tasks (users may use service providers for that purpose).

  • Proactive tracking of new versions of libraries that GDAL depends on, and address needed changes for compilation and proper runtime behavior

  • Monitor and address reports of static and dynamic analyzers. Currently: OSS-Fuzz, cppcheck, Clang Static Analyzer, Coverity Scan, gcc&clang memory/undefined behavior/etc. analyzers.

  • Documentation improvements

  • Activities related to software releases: writing the release notes, issuing release candidates, addressing feedback, finalizing releases

  • For experienced contributors, help less experienced contributors get on board and along with GDAL.

Projects that are concerned by such activities: GDAL itself of course, but also other, generally smaller, free and open source projects that have been strongly tied to it as being required or very common dependencies for GDAL, and don't benefit from similar maintenance funds (on the contrary, projects that use GDAL don't qualify for being funded by the GDAL sponsorship funds). The current list includes PROJ, libtiff, libgeotiff, shapelib, GEOS, OpenJPEG. If during the investigation of an issue, a co-maintainer finds an issue in another open source component and can come up with a patch, they are also welcome to do it.

A typical share of time could be 75% for GDAL and 25% for the other projects.

GDAL is a vast and complex project. It is not expected that each co-maintainer has expertise in all its aspects. Applicants will mention their domains of interest, which can evolve over time, and coordinate with other stakeholders in how tasks are assigned.


The co-maintainer is generally subject to the project PSC. However, for day to day decisions one PSC member might be designated as the supervisor for the co-maintainer (PSC members that are funded through this program will use existing decision making processes to prioritize their work). This supervisor will coordinate with the co-maintainer via email or IRC discussions.

The supervisor will try to keep the following in mind when prioritizing tasks:

  • Tickets that are regressions compared to a previous release are of higher priority than other tasks

  • Bug reports should be given higher priority than other tasks. (bug reports from sponsors will not qualify as such for higher priority treatment)

  • Areas of focus identified by the PSC should be given higher priority than other tasks.

  • Bugs or needs that affect many users should have higher priority.

  • The co-maintainer should be used to take care of work that no one else is willing and able to do (i.e. fill the holes, rather than displacing volunteers)

  • Try to avoid tying up the co-maintainer on one big task for many weeks unless directed by the PSC.

  • The co-maintainer should not be directed to do work for which someone else is getting paid.

Substantial new development projects will only be taken on by the co-maintainer with the direction of a PSC motion (or possibly an RFC designating the co-maintainer to work on a change).

Note that the co-maintainer and the co-maintainer supervisor are subject to the normal RFC process for any substantial change to GDAL.


The co-maintainer will produce a monthly report (typically in a shared spreadsheet) with the tasks they have tackled, typically pointing at tickets and pull requests, and the amount of hours spent during the reported period.

Who can apply ?

Applicants should be individuals, either self-employed or employed by a company agreeing to allocate some of their time to such activities, that have been a proven public track record of meeting the following qualities:

  • Knowledge of the programming languages required for the task: C/C++ for GDAL library and some knowledge of Python for the test suite, appropriate language for any of the SWIG bindings.

  • Knowledge of the geospatial field, ideally with one or several open source geospatial projects, and/or experience with file formats and low-level considerations.

  • Ability to interact with members of an open source community in accordance to the Code of Conduct.

  • Good knowledge of written English is necessary.

We cannot put formal criteria on that, but applicants should ideally aim for a multi-year involvement with the project, so that their onboarding time is amortized.

Each co-maintainer will be allocated a maximum number of hours per quarter (they will indicate their planned availability and the PSC will decide on the effective allocation), and will invoice on the time effectively spent within that allocation.

Applicants will provide their hourly rate, in US dollars, to the PSC (privately)

Tasks to achieve a specific development

The GDAL PSC will call for proposals (frequency to be adjusted, but could be per quarter year) of proponents that want to achieve a specific development. The PSC will indicate the total budget available and other conditions. The PSC may suggest a few ideas that it would want to receive proposals for.

Generally speaking, priority will be given to proposals that address housekeeping tasks, non-directly user oriented aspects of the project(s), rather than user-oriented features (new drivers, new utilities, etc. are more prone to be funded by interested parties), but the later ones can be proposed if they are deemed of sufficiently large interest.

A non-exhaustive list of topics that are meant to be addressed per this vehicle are:

  • Improving/rewriting a part of the code base

  • Changes that affect a large part of the code base

  • Speed optimizations

  • Adding / improving support for some platforms

  • Improvements in test suite / Continuous Integration

  • Improvements in build system

  • Improvements in documentation

  • Packaging efforts (provided that they use fully reproducible open source build recipes)

Applicants will provide the amount to be funded. Proposals may be put together by one or several individuals (in the later case, to be determined if we can let the team have a "invoicing point of contact" and let them arrange how to dispatch it amongst members, or if each team member should ask for its part of funding). An applicant may submit proposals for several subjects.

Applicants will submit the technical details of their proposal as an issue in the bug tracker where it can be collaboratively discussed with interested members of the community (or as an RFC for changes that would usually qualify for a RFC).

Criteria for applicants are the same as in the above section.

Decision process

The allocation of funds, through the selection of co-maintainers and grantees of specific developments, will be decided by the PSC.


The input provided by the Advisory Board regarding maintenance priorities will be taken into account by the PSC, on an equal footing as other input provided by the community, and PSC's own analysis of priorities.

PSC members that apply for funds, or that have a conflict of interest (e.g. working in the same company as an applicant), or any other situation of conflict or interest, may take part in discussions, but should abstain from voting on decisions related to fund allocation.


As this is a new way of operating for the project, it is expected that this RFC will evolve over time with the gained experience in the management of the sponsorship program.

Voting History


+1 from PSC members MateuszL, HowardB, FrankW, KurtS, SeanG, JukkaR, DanielM and EvenR