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From "Conor MacNeill" <>
Subject Re: Whoa Bessie... Was -- Re: [Proposal] AntFarm
Date Mon, 18 Dec 2000 13:28:17 GMT
> Ok, so that makes how many?

Too many. I don't have enough time to evaluate all of the proposals. In addition, I think
the whole stack of revolutions seems to
have stifled development on the main branch. I've been away on a bug hunt and Stefan has been
chipping away but it seems that most
people are saying "No point doing that now, since everything is going to change in Ant 2.0,
anyway". We seem to have taken our
resources and divided them in four. I am not just talking about coding resources, I mean the
resources to carry on meaningful

When the whole question of a revolution was raised, I questioned whether it was needed. Like
Stefan, I guess I am an evolutionary,
preferring to see the ant code base being changed and not rewritten from scratch. I don't
rule out revolutionary changes, just that
they should be part of the main development.

> And it's here that I think I can best express what I feel about Ant. (and
> this is going to sound arrogant, but wthell..) I came up with Ant. I wrote
> the first few generations of it. And it was an incomplete shot of that code
> that really went out with Jakarta. And that's what's been here.

I think that must have been difficult to write :-) (This may sound cruel, but as you say,
what the hell). While you may have come up
with the original concept of ant, I think you also neglected it for a long time.  I followed
ant from the tomcat project with many
patches. There was much frustration at that time that patches were not being applied. Do you
remember a mail titled "Where have all
the commitrers gone?". It was indicative of that frustration. If you have a look at the number
of messages on ant-dev you will see
that interest really took off once ant started to get the attention it deserved. I think it
is fair to say that was somewhat due to
the work of Stefan and myself (my turn to sound arrogant, I guess, although Stefan deserves
the most credit).

In fact, one of the things I found difficult in contributing to the tomcat development was
that Costin seemed to be, effectively,
the owner of it at the time. He was routinely rewriting very large chunks of the codebase,
checking in very large numbers of files.

> Over the
> last year, Ant has been in relative chaos

I didn't see it that way. In fact, I thought we brought some order to the chaos. Getting release
1.1 out there by itself rather than
as an component of Tomcat was very important and really kicked along the acceptance of ant
as a separate entity. .nt 1.2 also seems
to have been pretty well received by users.

> -- every build has added features,
> but those features are not really in sync with Ant.

why? I don't think the central core of ant changed radically. It got better, for sure. Introspection
is much better now than before,
IMHO. There are more tasks and some of the core tasks have changed but that is OK too.

> Ant has gotten bigger
> and less focused.

The core is not much bigger and I don't know what you mean by less focussed. Where we have
lost focus is in the development and
evolution of ant because we now have a whole stack of competing proposals.

> And features have changed between releases. Sometimes
> being added, sometimes being removed.

Of course features have changed. The automatic find option is a minor issue. A bigger one
is the immutability of properties. We are
trying to find the right way to do that and it is only by pushing code out into the community
that we can really now if it works or

> Maybe it's because other people are
> trying to take it where they see it -- and its because I wasn't here to help
> out as much as I should have been. But I still feel a strong sense of
> ownership of Ant. And a strong desire to make it into what it should have
> been to begin with.

How would you say the current Ant is radically different from what you want it to be?
> Let me use a project a little further away from here -- JDOM. I can speak to
> this since I was a back room player there. Lots of people had the desire to
> make a simple Java based tree model that was better than DOM for
> applications that just wanted a tree of XML data. Lots of us even threatened
> to do it. However, Jason and Brett did it. And even if I contributed a hefty
> review that changed JDOM quite a bit before its release -- quite clearly
> it's theirs. I recently talked with Jason about this issue and he told me
> one of the reasons JDOM isn't here at Apache is because we don't have a
> clear answer for this sort of ownership. The kind of ownership that doesn't
> mean that the code is private (because JDOM is open source) -- but the kind
> of ownership that gives them control over its future.

Is that the model you really want?. I don't know JDOM at all, but I wonder what sort of community
will build up around it. To me
OpenSource is not just about having access to the source. It is about the community that builds
up around that source. In Apache
projects, you can achieve recognition for your contributions by being voted a committer. It
is an incentive to contribute.

> So it seems that we need to start paying attention a little bit with Apache
> to this thought of ownership within the community. Otherwise, we are just a
> bit too anarchistic to allow some of the benefits of Open Source development
> to fall on its developers and contributors. After all, we don't get paid in
> money -- we get paid in a very different kind of currency. If we don't
> protect that kind of currency, then there is something wrong.

Isn't that what the concept of a committer is all about. It is the recognition of your contributions
by peers. How do you want to go
further? Some  sort of perpetual ownership for the original contribution?

> Now, that's not to say that we should stifle innovation. Many of you on the
> ant-dev mailing list don't know this, but I've been pushing for a long time
> at the Apache members level to have policies and frameworks in place for
> encouraging Software Darwinism. I do think that people should be able to
> come up with ideas and compete. But what I hadn't considered with Rules for
> Revolutionaries and the incubator approach is the issue of people that have
> something, call it ownership, vested in a particular project with a name.
> And we need to address this.
> So what does this mean?
> I respect the other proposals for ways of having a different take on what a
> Java based build system should be.. Especially Mymidon where Peter is coming
> at the problem from a whole different angle. But, it's not Ant imho. It's
> quite a bit different.
> I'm quite happy with competing against Mymidon -- and for the two of us to
> steal as many ideas as we can from each other. But if Mymidon succeeds, I
> really think that it should be as Mymidon. Not Ant.

So who gets to define what is Ant? Is that you?

> Its a different beast..
> A different take on what it means to be a Java based build system. I want to
> help make sure that Peter has his rights to push Mymidon as far as he can.
> And if it succeeds, he should get the glory.
> To make a point -- look at how we refer to Tomcat 4.0 -- we call it
> "Catalina" in casual conversation even though it's Tomcat 4. Why do we do
> it?

I thought it was Tomcat = Catalina + Jasper

> Well, maybe it's because it's an acknowledgement that it's Craig's idea
> -- it's the product of his efforts. Maybe it should still be called
> Catalina. I dunno. But the fact that we continue to acknowledge his
> contribution this way is important to note.
> And if Mymidon became Ant 2.0 -- we'd probably still call it in casual
> conversation Mymidon. Is that totally fair to Peter? I'm not sure.
> Yes, I'm being selfish here. Full disclosure time -- I've been approached
> and am going to write a book for O'Reilly on Ant. I want that book to be
> about Ant the way I see it.

You have an interesting dilemma then.

> And I want to protect these benefits of coming
> up with Ant that I've got. And I don't see anything wrong with that.
> Otherwise, I should've just released Ant off of and set it up as
> Open Source there. But that would have been stupid since the last thing that
> we want to do at Apache is have our developers feel that they can't code
> here.
> So, what do you think? Am I being an arrogant pig? Or do these rights matter
> to Apache developers? If these rights don't matter, should I just ask for
> the copyright to AntEater back so that I can go fork the code and do it
> elsewhere as a castway from the ASF? (which, btw, would be pretty weird
> since I'm an officer of the Foundation).

Wierd indeed. I wonder if O'Reilly would want a book about AntEater? :-) I'm curious, will
your book describe tasks and concepts
contributed to ant by other people. That will put you in an interesting position :-)

It is hard to argue with the guy who created Ant but I feel strongly enought about these issues
to do it.


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