Posted to sakai-dev on 15 October 2013:
Drop linktool from the next major (i.e., trunk-based) release. Do so under the terms of lazy consensus and without a formal vote of the PMC. Fast track removal without the traditional deprecation period being imposed (e.g. 1 release). Decouple from trunk .externals and tweek the base pom <modules> section on Friday, 25 October 2013. The proposal is limited to trunk only. Linktool will remain a core tool for 2.9 but will revert to contrib status thereafter. It's code will remain in the core svn repo and will not be moved.
First introduced in Sakai 2.3.0, linktool provides a means for integrating external tools with Sakai. It's lightweight, relatively easy to use and has required little community support since it's inclusion in the core distribution in 2006 (all good) . At the same time, linktool is a custom solution that in my view has been rendered redundant by the evolution of Sakai's BasicLTI module, an implementation of the popular IMS Global Tools Interoperability Specification.
Arguably, linktool could have been deprecated as early as the summer of 2010 when Chuck Severance upgraded BasicLTI to include the basic outcome service specified in LTI 1.1 for Sakai 2.8.0 (April 2011). This was not done but as we prepare for the next trunk-based release (2014 tentative) I believe the time is ripe for removing this venerable tool from the build. If we can retire custom code in favor of code written to a widely-adopted specification, we should not hesitate to do so.
Given the existence of a ready substitute in the guise of BasicLTI, the plan is to simply decouple linktool from trunk .externals and tweek the base pom <modules> section without us imposing either the traditional deprecation period or requiring a formal vote of the PMC.
Removing linktool from the core distribution could prove inconvenient to deployers if linktool is widely used. Usage, however, is largely unknown. Currently, I know of at least one school that utilizes the tool: Rutgers, the originator of the tool. Others may utilize the tool as well. Unfortunately, the recent tool survey provides no information on linktool usage, an apparent oversight that nevertheless did not garner any comment from survey participants.
A material objection will block this proposal. Otherwise, I will implement the change in trunk on or after 25 October 2013.