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From Stefano Mazzocchi <stef...@apache.org>
Subject [RT] Enhancing Cocoon Visibility
Date Tue, 15 Jan 2002 18:44:40 GMT
People,

Apache communities pay people back with non-conservative resources.

Fun is an example of a non-conservative resource: If I'm having that
much fun and I share it with you, *both* have the same fun (and our
cooperation is very likely to enhance both's).

On the other hand, money is a conservative resource: if I have a
thousands Euros and I share it with you, both have *half*, because money
is a conserative resource: the sum must remain the same.

Communities 'payed' with non-conserative resources (fun, respect, peace
of mind, love, friendship, etc..) scale much more than those 'payed'
with conserative resources (money, benefits, land, freedom, etc...)
because one big costrain is removed from the equation.

Anyway, the very fundamental laws of the universe we happen to be born
in seem to be based on the concept of conservation.

[note: there are higher-order physical and economical effects that I'm
*not* taking into account in this *extremly* simple model of mine, but
I'm fully aware of these facts and I'm removing them for sake of
simplicity and readability also because this is not the right place to
talk about those things in great detail]

The "holy grail" of open source is to have a secure way to turn these
'non-conservative' resources into 'conservative' ones.

Is this possible?

Yes, and we have a clear example: broadcasting. The very concept of
broadcasting is that the cost of reaching people doesn't grow linearly
with the amount of people reached. In this realm, it's partially not
conservative.

It has been shown (here in Italy we know this very well since our prime
minister Berlusconi is the italian who most managed to earn most from
this equation) that a non-conserative resource (visibility) can be
translated into conservative ones (money, then power).

                                  - o -

I believe the ASF managed to find a way to do this 'alchemy':

 1) users get software as a non-conservative resource, but are forced to
respect and protect the 'visibility' of the software since the license
forces them to make the original contribution 'visible' and the brands
are protected.

 2) developers get visibility and knowledge as a non-conservative
resource (and a other's software, comments, bugfixes and suggestions)

The key here is that visibility is a non-conservative resouce, but it's
a 'scarce' one. I mean: it's not easy to earn visibility and to protect
it.

For this reason, a 'scarce non-conservative resource' (visibility,
knowledge) can be tranlated into a 'scarce conservative resource'
(money, power).

Thus, we must make all possible effort to avoid loosing visibility.

                                   - o -

Cocoon2 was designed so that it was not possible to understand if a site
was powered by Cocoon or not.

While this is a great technological and architectural advancement, it
has a major drawback: visibility is lost.

If we look at other major ASF projects, many of them have a simple way
to make themselves visible:

 1) Apache HTTPD uses the 'server' HTTP headers.

 2) it also allows modules to add their presence into the server header.

(PHP, mod_perl and mod_dav use this feature to make themselves known)

we don't have access to that string (unless we tie Cocoon directly into
the Apache API via JNI, but I don't think we want to go this way), nor
there is any standard way to obtain some servlet information from the
servlet container.

what to do?

I see a number of solutions (you have more, make yourself heard):

 1) adding an implicit 'cocoon-status' resource (for example
/about-cocoon)

 2) adding a implicit 'about' resource view (for example
?cocoon-view='about')

 3) adding cocoon-specific HTTP header to the response (for example
x-cocoon: 2.0.12)

Of course, we must prevent people from having the chance to disable this
so we must make sure things have a very low impact on resource.

What do you think?

-- 
Stefano Mazzocchi      One must still have chaos in oneself to be
                          able to give birth to a dancing star.
<stefano@apache.org>                             Friedrich Nietzsche
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