This begs the question, why should he have to do all this hard work in the first place?
He doesn't do all hard work today, I'm one of those that sends him patches once in a while and I'm sure others help out too.
A very much respect Dave's work and very grateful about it, but it's not all good that he has the "central power". A key problem is that he has a very special coding style as seen in DCRaw, and I mean very
special, which means that the code is very hard to get into and maintain and expand except for Dave himself. He thinks himself the exact opposite that his coding style is ideal, and it probably is if you're some kind of programming genius, but most of us aren't.
Although I thoroughly document my patches document what I have figured out and what is still open issues, Dave removes all comments when he includes it in a release (because if you're a programming genius you don't need comments
So having it all concentrated in DCRaw is not an ideal situation for collaborative work.
To make it work as a broader collaborative open-source project I think the code should be restructured from scratch, and the code should be richly commented etc so it's clear what's supported and not, what is sure and what is guessed etc, and it should exist in the open at github or similar.
Maybe the libraw guys could step in at some point, I don't know. I think few can reverse-engineer camera formats as good as Dave can, and as long he is number one, DCRaw will be the reference.
When I reverse engineer a format it's with feelings of anger and frustration and my driving force is the obsession with "no f*****g manufacturer is going to lock in my
image data". I do hope that Dave is one that actually enjoys the challenge though, otherwise he has a living hell