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From "Andrew C. Oliver" <acoli...@apache.org>
Subject answer to Howard or State of the POI (WAS: Re: Jakarta-POI 1.10.0-dev released)
Date Wed, 05 Mar 2003 01:32:26 GMT
This is going to be another one of my long answers to a short question...

I don't really attempt to measure this.  It would be trivial to measure 
the number of downloads from the access logs; however, I prefer to 
mesure it subjectively. 

Note that its documented on the Jakarta site that Opensource is not 
about units shipped.  I'd look up the page but I'm sure that if I don't 
someone will do it for me so why bother.

== Start with Community aspects ==

We have an active and vibrant community which has improved the lives of 
most of the project's members.  Especially career-wise and financially.  
We all work pretty well together and POI is devoid of the antipathy that 
pervades other projects.  We make decisions by concensus, but do not 
seek the granularity of decision-making on other projects or projectless 
mailing lists (in my view peanut galleries).  All members feel free to 
express dissent, but there isn't a great deal.  Not saying its perfect, 
but that its not held up.

We do have a bandwidth problem.  Most members have real jobs and don't 
get as much time to contribute as we'd like.  There is also a 
significant barrier to enter the community.  Its like actually hard and 
stuff.  There are other projects with steep learning curves but 
generally they are knowlege of a relatively well known technology.  
Cocoon for instance just requires you to learn all about XML and Avalon, 
and I do mean ALL about XML.  However, POI requires you to understand 
hexidecimal math and know how to use diff and investigate hex dumps.  
This has frustrated some potentially contributing users, but in truth 
we're not really so interested in helping folks who don't wish to help 
themselves or POI (remember the bandwidth problem) or at least not for 
free (too much like work).   This keeps our community small, but also 
serves as a natural QA control of sorts (snobby I know but it does).  
However there are enough folks who wander in and say "Reading Hex dumps 
is for me!  Thats FUN!"  so we grow...just slower than other projects. 

Our attrition or partial attrition mostly happens due to the projects 
tendency to cause excessive employment to its most active contributers.  
I'm happy to say we've never lost anyone due to other factors so far. 

== Next with my personal measures ==

First, POI attacts mail from some of the largest banks in the word, 
financial institutions, governments, millitary institutions, nuclear 
power plants, etc.  There is even a large Apache backer flirting with 
the idea of using it (while its irrelevant to me whether they do or not, 
it is relevant that they are considering it).

Next, I measure the success of it by two other things:  Microsoft's 
flirting with open file formats (I'm sure it will be "open" in that 
Microsoft sort of way) and the final crux will be the day this 
http://www.tidestone.com/index.jsp goes out of business.  The first clue 
to eventual success is that Tidestone has re-emerged as a seperate 
business entity instead of just a redirect to a page on Actuate's site.  
The second is that they have lowered the price from 15k per processor to 
5,000k per server (I'm sure there is a big astericks) 
http://www.tidestone.com/pricing/index.jsp.  This is after an extensive 
advertising campaign including full page adds in Dr. Dobbs.  This is 
despite some functionality that we do not yet have.

My final measure is how much money I'm making and how many other POI 
developers I'm able to cut in on it.  Thus far (this year) I'm able to 
derive 35% of my income from opensource efforts (a percentage which is 
up about 800% from last year).  I suppose all of those are directly or 
indirectly related to POI.  I'll undoubtably be flamed for this unique 
viewpoint, but its a measure which I find important.  I've managed to 
pass on some of this work to two other POI committers thus far.  (no one 
bother writing me offering to do this work, I only pass this work on to 
contributers to the project)

So to me how many people are using POI and not contributing to the 
project in any way is totally irrelevant.  I measure it in actual 
benefit to myself and the other contributers.  To me any other mesure is 
trivial.

I know thats not what you want, but I hope it helps.

-Andy

Howard M. Lewis Ship wrote:

>Woops --- that was supposed to be private.  But advice is still welcome.
>
>--
>Howard M. Lewis Ship
>Creator, Tapestry: Java Web Components
>http://jakarta.apache.org/proposals/tapestry
>
>
>
>  
>
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: Howard M. Lewis Ship [mailto:hlship@attbi.com] 
>>Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2003 6:42 PM
>>To: 'Jakarta General List'
>>Subject: RE: Jakarta-POI 1.10.0-dev released
>>
>>
>>I'm looking for a bit of advice.
>>
>>People keep asking me "how many people are using Tapestry" 
>>... and I honestly have no idea.  Insufficient feedback.  
>>
>>Do you have a way of determining the user base of POI?  Any 
>>guidelines based on downloads?
>>
>>--
>>Howard M. Lewis Ship
>>Creator, Tapestry: Java Web Components 
>>http://jakarta.apache.org/proposals/tapestry
>>
>>
>>
>>
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>>
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