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From Dan Creswell <...@dcrdev.demon.co.uk>
Subject Drowning in the River
Date Tue, 06 Feb 2007 08:04:46 GMT
Hi all,

I've personally been increasingly uncomfortable with the nature of the
discussion on river-dev (and Jini-Users to a lesser extent), trouble is
I've not been able to understand why......until now, here's my beef:

The river-dev list is full of minutae - discussion of coding standards,
issues on nitty gritty bits of behaviour around locking or
preferred-lists or when we might get the code drop or testing or
checkins.  But, I don't care about any of this stuff, why?  Because it's

It has no importance whatsoever in the big picture which comes down to:


And that question leads to a bunch of others for me:

(1)	Who's the audience for River?

(2)	What are we going to deliver to that audience?

(3)	Why would that audience care about what we're delivering?

(4)	What should River be about?

Until we get that straight anything we do is random, potentially useless
or pointless.  I'm not going to try and answer those questions
individually but I will put forth some thoughts:

Surely we want whatever we produce to be used in real-world projects.
Yes, we want to encourage pet/private projects because that fosters
innovation but these are insufficient to justify River's existence.
It's all about adoption, which means existing users are important but
not as important as new ones, right now.

If River is to get adoption, it will be because the world is (of it's
own accord or because of something we did) aligned better with what
we're doing.  What kind of world would that be?  SOA?  EDA?  Utility
computing?  All of these? Something else?

We need to get in touch with the real-world (I fear I sound like
Morpheus).  We need to be a lean mean opinion-soliciting machine.

Everybody is entitled to their opinion and some will undoubtedly be more
expert than mine but I'm only so interested in those personal opinions.
 See, I'm much more interested in real-world opinion from existing and
potential users.  And I'm not interested in just blindly
addressing/dealing with those opinions because they might be wrong.
Equally an apparently "wrong" opinion shouldn't be ignored out of hand
as it can be an indicator of a need for education or some other
constructive action.  So when you present an opinion, consider are you
representing your own needs or those of others?  Which is more
beneficial long term for adoption and progress?

I for one firmly believe the Starter Kit is anything but a Starter Kit.
 It's a big bundle of everything which is a convenient way to seed the
beginnings of a project (HotJava anyone?) but terrible beyond that.
There's a lot of value in the contents but the way in which we deliver
it fails to release the value effectively.  I think we've all spent far
too much time trying to manage the shortcomings of this packaging
approach, installers, reworking of documentation, wikis etc.  All of
these things are treating the symptoms, not the root cause which is the
starter kit is a bad model for delivery.

We seriously need to drop some of the perfectionist attitude.  The
ultimate judge of what is perfect is our user base and something that is
supposedly perfect on paper can every quickly be ripped apart in
practice.  So rather than endlessly debating to reach the perfect
solution, let's focus a little more on getting stuff out there for
people to try.  We can do that via nightly builds, prototype API
releases etc separate from whatever our official tested builds are.

Okay I've said enough, I'll finish with a plea:

Let's stop focusing on nitty gritty detail detached from the outside
world so's we can figure out where in the world we are and where we want
to go.  One way to do that might be to go back and re-examine the list
of things Jim Hurley posted a few days ago.......


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