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From Peter Donald <>
Subject Re: Whoa Bessie... Was -- Re: [Proposal] AntFarm
Date Mon, 18 Dec 2000 11:31:41 GMT
At 11:39  17/12/00 -0800, James Duncan Davidson wrote:
>On 12/15/00 5:25 PM, "Peter Donald" <> wrote:
>> you may have noticed I just checked in a proposal AntFarm. It was developed
>> by Matt Foemmel <> and is a different approach to
>> both other proposals.
>Ok, so that makes how many?

keep reading I just checked another one in ;)

>I have to admit that I'm a bit disturbed by the number of proposals here.
>It's interesting to see that *so* many people have so many different takes
>on what Ant should be.

Agreed to a certain degree. I think both of our porposals suffered a little
from a lack of perception. Both were just next-generation ants with a
different architecture. They did not challenge any established ideas - they
merely crystalized them. 

Both the other proposals are from people outside of "ant-dev core" and thus
may have a different perspectives and may spot things that we miss. I am
especially interested in the "import" idea from AntFarm because it would
solve many of the issues that the ant-user list has complained about.

>But I'd like to rephrase that into "Lots of people have so many takes on
>what a Java based build system should be." With this many different tangents
>being taken, I'm pretty sure that we aren't talking about just Ant anymore.
>Especially not Ant as I originally intended it to be. But more of a series
>of attempts to solve a general problem. And that leaves me a lot less
>disturbed. In fact, I'm kinda happy about it. Except that it leaves the
>problem of everybody wanting to do the next version of Ant. :)

right. I am not sure it is so much the next version of Ant - but more
features of Ant. A lot of people have suggested ideas on ant-dev. While we
have tried to listen it has possibly been our fault that we discard an idea
because of the difficulty of integrating it into the current code base. I
think AntFarm/frAnTic are more a way to get use ant-devs to listen to
feature requests and evaluate it on merits ;) 

If the different proposals came from people who have long been contributors
to ant-dev then I think there would be cause for concern but maybe not now
- thou I am not sure. I guess it depends on what the other proposers think ;)

>One of the criticisms of the "Rules for Revolutionaries" document at the
>time was that it might lead to a large number of divergent code bases very
>quickly -- and it lead to the question of how that was going to be dealt
>with. At the time, we had the problem of *one* proposed new Tomcat
>implementation. And I answered that criticism with "Well, we'll handle the
>problem of having too many proposals when we hit it".
>I think we've hit it.

;) Right.

>One of the things that wasn't touched on in Rules for Revolutionaries,
>mainly because at the time we weren't staring at numbers of different ways
>of doing the same thing, is the concept of code ownership -- or even
>benevolent dictatorships -- or whatever you want to call the idea of a
>central "owner" of the code.

I am not really comfortable with the concept of "ownership" as such. I much
prefer ego-les/owner-less coding. If I had an option I would strip all
author tags from codebase - but I know that would never work in an
opensource project where your pay is seeeing your name in the credits ;) It
is good to recognize the relative importance of people within a project but
I am not sure you can formalize it and still keep the same atmosphere in
development. Ant is generally different from other projects in that the
committers essentially act as waygates to funnel code through rather than
prima architects. While there has been architectural changes the majority
are small incremental changes that will very very gradually be integrate
through rest of tasks. I suspect this will change with Ant when tasks can
more easily be hosted outside apache and the committers act more like
architects - but who knows ;)

>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. Over the
>last year, Ant has been in relative chaos -- every build has added features,
>but those features are not really in sync with Ant. Ant has gotten bigger
>and less focused. And features have changed between releases. Sometimes
>being added, sometimes being removed. 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.

I will comment on this a below.

>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.

Perhaps - thou I think that similar ownership can be aquired in Apache if
that is what you want. I am a little familiar with Cocoons developement.
While all the committers had equal rights under the system it was led for
all intents and purposes by Stefano. Stefano had the vision and effectively
the control over what came of different suggestions. This started to change
(last I noticed Giacomo was the psuedo-leader) but very little (if
anything) would get past that Stefano didn't approve of. I am not sure if
this is what you mean by ownership but there is one example ;)

>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.


>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.

Perhaps - but in the time you left ant it changed. I believe Mymidon is
faithful to how Ant is now - however you have indicated that ant now is not
what you want it to be.

>I'm quite happy with competing against Mymidon 

It may be just me but I would prefer cooperation and merging till we have
combined best bits of all proposals.

>-- 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. 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.

I would dislike it if anyone felt they couldn't hack mymidon as much as
they want. I don't like the idea of their being one person sticking out -
it is as much mine as it is the rest of ant-dev. While I may have been
original architect it was all in direct response to ant-dev/ant-user
requests. I would love it if someone/somepeople else took over and/or
wanted to hack at it ;)

>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? 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.

I agree it would be a good idea to differentiate by codename. (I assume
this means package change and project name enforced rather than general
term "ant"). But I am not sure I would like to see one proposal keep the
name Ant and another not. If AntEater were to keep being packaged at
org.apache.ant.* it would be near impossible for any other proposal to be
considered. While I respect your desire to protect/own the name Ant - I
don't think I would be comfortable with one proposal being auto-blessed as
ant and another not.

>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.

sure it is - I aren't no glory seeker ;) I just want a good architectured
build tool + a usable build tool.

>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. 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.

Nor I to a degree (see below).

>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

Funny you mention it. I have intended for a long time to make a proposal
for ant2 and had a number of different working versions for a while (mainly
as intellectual tests of various ideas). I was just waiting till I handed
in thesis to clean up code and make proposal. When you announced your
intention to make a proposal I had virtually decided not to propose it but
I asked Stefan his opinion and he said go for it so I did ;)

>So, what do you think? Am I being an arrogant pig? Or do these rights matter
>to Apache developers? 

Nope they are important. But I guess this is where the real issue lies. I
don't mean to offend you or anything but I never considered you "owner" of
Ant. Before getting irritated ;) I will qualify that with why it never
occured to me. I only jumped on ant-dev after it became a seperate project
- I have no idea what came before. 

When I first jumped on I never really took any notice of goings on and just
reported bugs/feature requests. However after the "great exodus" where all
the developers seemed to unsubscribe from ant-dev I started paying
attention. The few remaining committers were overworked and Sam Ruby would
nominate new committers almost on a weekly basis ;) (presumably to pick up
the banner). 

Out of this came Stefan and Connor who have both been putting in heaps of
time to Ant. Without the efforts of these two (Stefan in particular) Ant
would have severly floundered. During this time you have not played any
real role in ant development excepth popping in once for spec/core.html. 

I just think you should be careful about claiming ownership since you
abandoned ant dev a lot of other people have put a lot of time in
maintaining / developing / whatever. Your overtones of reverting all
changes that have occured during interim because they don't fit your vision
also doesn't show the respect that I think the other developers deserve.

I don't know how much development went on before ant became a seperate
project and I may be out of line but thats how I see it.

>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).

Well as no one has patched it majorly you still own images of source so it
wouldn't be necessary ;) Besides which I think it would be a huge shame to
see you leave. 


| "Faced with the choice between changing one's mind, |
| and proving that there is no need to do so - almost |
| everyone gets busy on the proof."                   |
|              - John Kenneth Galbraith               |

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