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From "William A. Rowe, Jr." <>
Subject Re: the wheel of httpd-dev life is surely slowing down, solutions please
Date Fri, 14 Nov 2003 02:20:34 GMT
At 12:47 PM 11/13/2003, wrote:

>If you look at what has REALLY happened in the past
>3 years ( yes... going back that far since it's now 4 or
>5 years since 2.0 became a real blib on the radar ) there's
>no question that there was this intense period of 
>development and 'new' things were happening at
>a fast rate. 

Without a doubt this period of development was abnormally "intense"
for any five year old open source project.  Good point.

>As more and more developers got interested
>in getting 2.0 cranked out the (limited) resources all
>got eaten up in the 2.0 development cycle and 1.3
>development virtually shut down. It was even 'officially'
>shut down long before 2.0 was ready ( 1.3 officially went
>into maintenance mode only ).

That's an interesting point.  Most of my early (independent) contributions,
about 600 dev hours worth, were entirely focused on making 1.3 work
under Win32.  And you are dead on, some of my work was accepted,
and on other points, I was asked "hold on, that's a goal in 2.0".  There
was a little difference though, there really was very little 2.0 anything
at that time for me to point my efforts at.

>So now you had lots of legacy developers ( albeit... lots
>of weekend-warriors, too, but WW's are the heartbeat
>of Open Source ) who knew 1.3 very well but were now
>totally put out to pasture. 

Nay, they were gone long before I started using/working with/hacking
Apache in 2000.  Even mod_ssl and OpenSSL were put to bed.  The
old guard had moved on, and few folks paid much attention to the bug
queue.  Those that did were overwhelmed by some requests that just
wouldn't fit well into the architecture of 1.3.  Not to mention that 1.3's 
core was a twisted mess of platform quirks.  It still is, that's why it's
orphaned.  Hard on old timers, sure, but for newcomers the difference
between reading 1.3 and 2.0 is night and day.

Yes filters are difficult to grok, but the rest of the entire server is much
more simple to follow.

Perhaps some will be motivated to make filters, the most difficult 2.0
feature, a little easier to use or understand.  Justin already made some
progress on this front, and it continues to evolve.

>The 'other' not-so-dedicated-but-certainly-interested 
>developers felt 'shut out' of the 2.0 development cycle
>because it was obvious a lot of it was taking place
>'off line' and nothing was being documented so they
>couldn't really get a good handle on what was going
>on in order to make a contribution.

Hehe, of all of your silly perceptions in this note, I'm picking up on
this one for the benefit of newer list readers.  In the bad old days of the 
2.0 dev cycle, very little ever happened that wasn't tracked on the
mailing list.  Today, there is parallel activity on channels like #apr
(of, and your comment reinforces the point that not all
of that activity can be healthy for the wider community.  Unless it is
digested and explained to the readership of dev@ and in the maillist
archives for posterity and future explanation.

>At one point one of the Covalent guys ( I believe it
>was that Randy Bloom fellow? ) was pretty much the
>ONLY person who had any idea how the new 'filtering'
>was even SUPPOSED to work. It was quite some time
>before he even finished thinking it through and it went
>through (too?) many re-works to even keep a good
>grasp on it.

Hehe, this ties into my point in the prior paragraph.  EVERYTHING on the
filters was nailed down on the list.  What happened?

Two camps had two different end goals.  They did not see eye to eye
on the design.  When it got to the point that there was no resolution 
to be found, I suggested that a face to face of everyone interested would
be terrific.  Note I was an independent, not paid for webserver apps but 
actually a database systems dude who liked playing with the web.  And
I was tired of waiting for the discussion to end (and sorta confused as were
most observers.)  About 20+ folks, five different firms, some independents,
some by phone, sat down to watch Ryan and Greg duke out the design
one bullet point at a time.  It was amazing, wish that someone had 
a brought a camcorder :-)

And what resulted was a design that satisfied *everyones* requirements.
Details and skeletons were posted to the list in realtime by some observers.

What do you call this?  An impromptu mini-hackathon.  And it worked
to move forward on a very difficult-to-follow concept.

>My only real point here ( and the way all this relates to the
>current thread ) is that maybe it's time to acknowledge that
>what is happening now is what will always happen to a major
>development project if you let too many of your eggs go into
>the same 'corporate' basket.

I'm gonna just close with this observation - Apache was always driven
by two forces, academic and business.  By ISPs who needed a stable
platform.  By independent coders who earned a living doing systems.
By companies who needed a stable and trusted base platform.

And Guess What?  There is nothing new under the sun.  The same sorts
of users today are those sorts we had five years ago.  Same sorts of
developers, same sorts of contributors. And businesses continue to drive
alot of the key development.  It's that way in nearly every platform.

But ya know who ships the most commercial Apache 2.0 distributions?
OS Vendors.  The Red Hats, HPs, and IBMs.  One in every box.  You might
ask, "why weren't they driving the Apache 2.0 effort?"

The answer was (and still is) "They did".  Was a community that included
academics, corporate and independent developers.  And a heck of a nice
group of users/writers which is why the docs project, while things were
slowing down o the dev side, was just picking up steam.

The funniest bit about your rant was it's irony.  Ryan started Apache 2.0
long before he was at Covalent.  He came to Covalent from IBM.  Apache
diehards seek out Apache-related paychecks, little surprise there.

We value individual contributions here, not corporate affiliation.  Nobody
has ever gotten a 'pass' into the Apache HTTP Server for their employment
or their employers efforts.  The fact that folks, such as Brad and Madhu,
are committers and PMC members is a result of their personal dedication 
to the project and that the project is proud to count them as members,
regardless of current employment status.

I'm proud that I've been a contributor before Covalent, and will remain even
if I find other opportunities at some point.  I hacked up Apache/Win32 just
because *I* wanted to run it on a windows box.  The project(s) turned out
to be fun, so it was a win-win.


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