The Organization initiative focuses on reaching feature parity between SaaS and self-managed installations.

Consolidate groups and projects

One facet of the Organization initiative is to consolidate groups and projects, addressing the feature disparity between them. Some features, such as epics, are only available at the group level. Some features, such as issues, are only available at the project level. Other features, such as milestones, are available to both groups and projects.

We receive many requests to add features either to the group or project level. Moving features around to different levels is problematic on multiple levels:

  • It requires engineering time to move the features.
  • It requires UX overhead to maintain mental models of feature availability.
  • It creates redundant code.

When features are copied from one level (project, group, or instance) to another, the copies often have small, nuanced differences between them. These nuances cause extra engineering time when fixes are needed, because the fix must be copied to several locations. These nuances also create different user experiences when the feature is used in different places.

A solution for this problem is to consolidate groups and projects into a single entity, namespace. The work on this solution is split into several phases and is tracked in epic 6473.

Phase 1

  • Phase 1 epic.
  • Goals:
    1. Ensure every project receives a corresponding record in the namespaces table with type='Project'.
    2. For user namespaces, the type changes from NULL to User.

We should make sure that projects, and the project namespace, are equivalent:

  • Create project: use Rails callbacks to ensure a new project namespace is created for each project. Project namespace records should contain created_at and updated_at attributes equal to the project’s created_at/updated_at attributes.
  • Update project: use the after_save callback in Rails to ensure some attributes are kept in sync between project and project namespaces. Read project#after_save for more information.
  • Delete project: use FKs cascade delete or Rails callbacks to ensure when a Project or its ProjectNamespace is removed, its corresponding ProjectNamespace or Project is also removed.
  • Transfer project to a different group: make sure that when a project is transferred, its corresponding project namespace is transferred to the same group.
  • Transfer group: make sure when transferring a group that all of its sub-projects, either direct or through descendant groups, have their corresponding project namespaces transferred correctly as well.
  • Export or import project
    • Export project continues to export only the project, and not its project namespace, in this phase. The project namespace does not contain any specific information to export at this point. Eventually we want the project namespace to be exported as well.
    • Import project creates a new project, so the project namespace is created through Rails after_save callback on the project model.
  • Export or import group: when importing or exporting a Group, projects are not included in the operation. If that feature is changed to include Project when its group is imported or exported, the logic must include their corresponding project namespaces in the import or export.

After ensuring these points, run a database migration to create a ProjectNamespace record for every Project. Project namespace records created during the migration should have created_at and updated_at attributes set to the migration runtime. The project namespaces’ created_at and updated_at attributes would not match their corresponding project’s created_at and updated_at attributes. We want the different dates to help audit any of the created project namespaces, in case we need it. After this work completes, we must migrate data as described in Backfill ProjectNamespace for every Project.

Phase 2

  • Phase 2 epic.
  • Goal: Link ProjectNamespace to other entities on the database level.

In this phase:

  • Communicate the changes company-wide at the engineering level. We want to make engineers aware of the upcoming changes, even though teams are not expected to collaborate actively until phase 3.
  • Raise awareness to avoid regressions, and conflicting or duplicate work that can be dealt with before phase 3.

Phase 3

  • Phase 3 epic.
  • Goal: Achieve feature parity between the namespace types. Problems to solve as part of this phase:

  • Routes handling through ProjectNamespace rather than Project.
  • Memberships handling.
  • Policies handling.
  • Import and export.
  • Other interactions between project namespace and project models.

Phase 3 is when the active migration of features from Project to ProjectNamespace, or directly to Namespace, happens.

How to plan features that interact with Group and ProjectNamespace

As of now, every Project in the system has a record in the namespaces table. This makes it possible to use common interface to create features that are shared between Groups and Projects. Shared behavior can be added using a concerns mechanism. Because the Namespace model is responsible for UserNamespace methods as well, it is discouraged to use the Namespace model for shared behavior for Projects and Groups.

Resource-based features

To migrate resource-based features, existing functionality will need to be supported. This can be achieved in two Phases.

Phase 1 - Setup

  • Link into the namespaces table
    • Add a column to the table
    • For example, in issues a project id points to the projects table. We need to establish a link to the namespaces table.
    • Modify code so that any new record already has the correct data in it
    • Backfill

Phase 2 - Prerequisite work

  • Investigate the permission model as well as any performance concerns related to that.
    • Permissions need to be checked and kept in place.
  • Investigate what other models need to support namespaces for functionality dependent on features you migrate in Phase 1.
  • Adjust CRUD services and APIs (REST and GraphQL) to point to the new column you added in Phase 1.
  • Consider performance when fetching resources.

Introducing new functionality is very much dependent on every single team and feature.

Right now, cascading settings are available for NamespaceSettings. By creating ProjectNamespace, we can use this framework to make sure that some settings are applicable on the project level as well.

When working on settings, we need to make sure that:

  • They are not used in join queries or modify those queries.
  • Updating settings is taken into consideration.
  • If we want to move from project to project namespace, we follow a similar database process to the one described in Phase 1.