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From Giacomo Pati <>
Subject Re: [IT] C2 Complexity Syndrome
Date Fri, 27 Oct 2000 10:21:49 GMT

--- Niclas Hedhman <> wrote:
> [Irrational Thought]
> Watching the frenzy of the development of Cocoon is rather
> interesting.
> However, looking from a bit of a distance is perhaps a sobering
> exercise
> as well.
> WHat I find is that Cocoon is getting complexer and complexer by the
> hour, and soon it is reaching a stage where you won't understand, nor
> be
> able to use it effectively if you are not part of the development
> team.
> My fright is that Cocoon will be so powerful and hopelessly
> impossible
> to understand, that it will sink from its own weight.
> What problems do we have at hand?
> First of all, understanding it.
> The biggest problem for any new user must be to understand an iota of
> how things hangs together, and how do you structure a project, what
> does
> all the components mean and what is the actual functionality, what is
> the purpose of the sitemap and many other things regarding the
> overview.

I confess that a lack of guide lines and reference docs doesn't makes
it easy to use C2. I believe time will fill this hole soon. I
appologize not having finished my sitemap reference docs because of
lack of time and a heavy mailing list to watch and act on :). This is
no excuse, just a fact.

> Secondly, the difficulty to set it all up.
> There are step by step instructions that are pretty good, but if you
> deviate from it just a little bit, it is bound to become a nightmare.

Not really, there are still bugs in different parts of C2 which seems
to mess up when you leave the path of the examples. Consider C2 is
still alpha because of this (and other issues).

> This is to a large extent not directly the fault of Cocoon, but the
> fact
> that Cocoon is a too powerful servlet, part of a bigger framework.
> I believe these issues are being resolved in Tomcat.


> Thirdly, configuration.
> Most users don't want to hack around in the sitemap. 

Honestly, then they better switch to Apache and mod_xslt. The sitemap
is essential to build up your site. Do you prefer to hack around in
every single xml document you have to put in references to the
stylesheets you want to apply to them as with the Cocoon 1 Reactor
Pattern? Please make us know if you have better ideas to separate this

> They will not
> write
> their own selectors, transformers and so on. 
> They want a set of
> pre-defined working templates. 

They don't have to if the set of components you, I and others are
willing to contribute to this project. 

> They want XSP to work out of the box,
> without any manual hacking in the sitemap. Don't expect the average
> site
> manager to be a fluent Java programmer, he/she is not. 

C2 was designed with exactly that in mind. The site manager should only
manage the sitemap. The Cocoon docs state that Cocoon is focussed on
medium to high complex sites. The pyramid model of contracts separates
the tasks different parties have to fullfill to make a Cocoon sites
rock without having all knowledge concentrated on one single person.
Hacking around in the sitemap has nothing to do with being a Java
programmer (and per definition shouldn't be). The sitemap was created
to overcome some weak points of the reactor pattern. 

> At best,
> he/she
> has the resources in-house, more likely is that they must be
> purchased
> from the outside, hence customized generators and transformers are
> not
> part of a commoner's day.

This is true for C1 as well. You ever had the need for a customized
producer? Do you think C2 doesn't cover all functionallity C1 offers?

> Fourthly, source code.
> Source code is getting fairly complex, especially compared to the C1.

I can't speak for that because I have no idea of the code in C1.

> I see a danger in this. I don't know how many has tried to figure out
> how the sitemap generation/compilation is done. I hope quite a few,
> since OSS projects are always faced with the fact that any single
> individual might disappear by a day's notice.

This is a concern I'm really aware of. I'll do my best to make it as
simple and documented as possible. This is why I'm waiting for the
Simple Logicsheet Language (SiLLy) to be finished and rewriting the
sitemap logicsheet with SiLLy to make it simple more transparent to

> Fifthly, feature bloat.
> Just because it can be done, doesn't mean it has to be implemented.

There is a difference between "can be done" and "needs to exist". If
you can start up a discussion about which features in C2 are created
only because "they can be done" please speak up. This is very welcome.

> The
> charm with C1 was it's simple approach to every day life.
> I guess I am part of the feature bloat, just as most enthusiasts are,
> and Stefano has tried to dodge the requests rather well, to a point
> where we are today.
> I just want to Raise a Condition, that I believe exists, and is the
> greatest threat to Cocoon's long-term survival. As soon as C2
> stablizes
> a little bit more, most of the effort must be put into
> "friendliness",
> perhaps in form of presets, wizards, tools, or whatever. I believe a
> higher-level of Configuration layer is needed, that can better be
> communicating with configuration tools and such.

I personally think the configuration layer is high enought to build a
tool upon it to configure C2. I've started to build at least a simple
viewer for the sitemap to show this can happen if someone contributes
the time to do so. I would really appreciate you guys step up and
contribute instead of complaining (sorry, this is complaining too). The
few "real commiters" for C2 can't do all the stuff you (I'm not being
personal to you Niclas) claim should be there and as a community we
need more people to work on different parts of the system. The pressure
for tools has raised with C2 and I think this is good. 

I was really amazed about the effort Sebastien and Davanum had brought
into the community switching C2 to Xalan 2 and I am very proud being
part of it. My next upcomming is to build a todo list which we hadn't
had the time to discuss at the ApacheCon hackathon. Stay tuned for it
soon and join in brining you cencerns into it and lets work on it to
get C2 rock so we can finally made it beta.


PS: This is no personal offense to anybody. I just want to discuss and
to show you my points but I might be blinded by C2 and I appreciate if
you can enlight me to make me see important things I'm not able to get
right now :-)

PWR GmbH, Organisation & Entwicklung      Tel:   +41 (0)1 856 2202
Giacomo Pati, CTO/CEO                     Fax:   +41 (0)1 856 2201
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