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From Peter Donald <>
Subject Re: Analyzing Bessie (Was: Whoa Bessie...)
Date Thu, 21 Dec 2000 00:11:31 GMT
At 07:44  19/12/00 -0800, Jason Hunter wrote:
>James originally created the Ant tool within Sun as a way to build
>Tomcat.  He needed a cross platform build mechanism for the server he
>was creating, and he recognized that Make sucks.  All of us knew this,
>but unlike most of us who created hacky Makefiles, he invented something
>innovative: Ant.  He named it Ant because it was a little thing that
>built big things.  :-)  Ant was his baby more than Tomcat really, and
>while he fought to open Tomcat he also had an eye to open Ant along with
>Ant in the open was justifiably recognized as a cool build tool, and we
>all scrambled to use it and some of us to improve upon it.  I personally
>have dropped Make for good!  :-)  Around this time James got drawn away
>on other things (finishing the Servlet API spec, cleaning up the XML
>JAXP spec) and couldn't help much with Ant.  So the community here built
>up around the tool and *rightly* feel like it's partly theirs now.
>(You can see the conflict coming, can't you...)
>James takes a new job within Sun that allows him to dedicate some real
>time to Ant.  He wants to jump back into his old position as "vision
>thought leader".  However, the community that has grown around Ant
>doesn't recognize him as such, because in the time since they joined he
>hasn't been very active.  So they want him to prove his worth again with
>the advice "start contributing, help with patches, start advising more
>on ant-user and try to be more constructive with your criticism."  He
>feels like George Washington returned from afar welcomed to the nation
>he helped found with not a "wecome back" but rather a "prove your
>patriotism again".  And of course, that hurts.
>(Yep, there's the conflict...)
>The good news is that progress is being again on debating the technical
>merits of each proposal.  That's what we're all best at.  :-)

>But there's one open issue.  What do we do with the name "Ant"?
>The "Rules for Revolutionaries" (created by James ironically) doesn't
>address this issue.  The thought was that there would be consensus on a
>path to take and that the name would follow that path.  Here's a
>situation where we have what may be fundamental disagreements about
>design, and there may have to be *named releases* before we get any
>consensus, if we ever do.  What I think has concerned James is that he
>wants some guarantee that if he believes his approach is technically
>superior to the competition, he's OK with the competition but doesn't
>want to lose the name "Ant" to what he would consider a "fork" from his
>original vision.

While I agree that it would be a nice thing he no longer owns the name Ant
- Apache does. If he wanted absolute control then he should have never left
or he should have hosted it in another place. I like the fact that
everything is run via meritocracy. If you want something changed then you
earn the brownie points and get it changed.

I have no doubt that if JDD had been here all along he would be head honcho
and have a large proportion of control - that has little to do with him
being original owner but more with him being the person who has put in most
time etc.

>In Apache, afterall, a name is very important.  The Apache name can only
>be used by derivative works with the express permission of the ASF.  If
>someone else thinks they can do better, the code is theirs *but not the


>This situation with internal forks is hard because who gets to have the
>fork with the original name?  I think in the situation where such a
>decision needs to be made it should be decided by the overseeing PMC. 
>Name choosing is one of the standard duties of a PMC (although usually
>only selecting initial names!).  Furthermore, I would hope that (as with
>child custody) they try to leave the name with the original creator
>wherever possible.  If not, it's a strong disincentive to host a project
>with Apache:  You could create a project and have its "brand" taken by a
>fork you disagree with.

You would have PMC deal with it - I disagree. I don't know how big the PMC
is or the people who are on it. I suspect we are unique in that we have 3
PMC members on ant-dev. In most cases I don't think the PMC has the
overview to do something like this. It should be decided by committers if
at all possible. If there is multiple polar splinter groups then it may be
appropriate to bring in PMC then. The PMC can then either act as
"negotiators" ;), +1 the splinter group who has highest density/quantity of
Apache-ish contributors or whatever else is decided to be appropriate.

Getting PMC is always going to be a negative of sorts - In best case it is
just going to get some contributors annoyed with PMC, in worst case the
code base will fork with all active contributors going to fork and
essentially Apaches project would become an empty cathedral.

>Apache is about collaboration, and we share our code internally as well
>as externally.  But we preserve the name as our brand.  If someone
>outside Apache forked Ant, they'd have to choose another name.  The
>question now is do we offer the same protection within Apache?

Maybe the questions should be - do we want to offer the same protection
within Apache? Personally I say no - meritocracy should rule in all cases
IMHO. I have been involved in a few czar led projects and have constantly
been frustrated by their lack of vision or their arrogance. Many would
block initiatives they didn't start ... only to reimplement the same thing
on their own a bit later (Many also will never credit the originator of
initial idea and claim they were originator etc). Luckily this doesn't
happen much at Apache. I have only seen it happen once in the time I have
been here as lurker/developer. (ironically it was on this list wrt Nico
Sesles .tsk loader ;]).



| "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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