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From "Kimbro Staken" <ksta...@dbxmlgroup.com>
Subject Re: Mixing Two Terminologies
Date Sat, 03 Mar 2001 11:08:00 GMT
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Leung" <twleung@sauria.com>
To: <general@xml.apache.org>
Sent: Saturday, March 03, 2001 12:34 AM
Subject: Re: Mixing Two Terminologies

> First of all,
> Thank you both, Arved and Kimbro, for participating in this discussion
> and tolerating me when I get too excited...

Heh, heh, I knew it would stir things up as soon as I brought up the big M
word. :-)

> To me part of the right kind of community is one where developers care
> about requirements and crossing the T's and dotting the I's.   And I'd say
> lets try to get that to happen from the bottom up in the sub-projects,
> before
> legislating it from on high via the PMC.

So now the question you have to answer is how do you go about doing this? I
think it's pretty unavoidable that somebody has to provide the leadership to
get things rolling. You can hope that enough people from the sub-projects
will pick it up on their own and get things rolling or you can give things a
periodic push from a higher level. The key here is that your PMC is not
there to make rules, if they start saying things like "all sub-projects MUST
do X, Y and Z" then everyone will give them the finger and go work on some
other project or even worse fork the existing projects into a new
organization. Their role should really just be to gently nudge things along
to keep the organization on track to fulfill what ever stategic goals are

> To me, Open Source is much more about the process of software development.
> The license is important, yes, but the community process is why this is
> different
> from doing this inside a single corporation.   And that's what I want to
> protect.

I agree completely, I firmly believe in the Open Source development model.
If I didn't I wouldn't be taking the very significant time required to
participate in this discussion. What I also believe though is that there is
still significant room for improvement at the project management level and
doing that will even further broaden the acceptance of Open Source software
in the marketplace. That is my goal by bringing up the business parallels.
I'm simply trying to get people to see that by looking at things from a
slightly different perspective that you can leverage the significant body of
knowledge about how business works to further the acceptance of Open Source.
I also believe that you can leverage this knowledge to your benefit without
significantly compromising the core tenents that make Open Source so
appealing and work so well.

Let me give you a hypothetical example of what I'm talking about. Pretend
you're a developer with some mid-size company who was just given the task of
building an XML application by your boss. You read an article in your
favorite Java magazine that said to build XML applications you need a
parser. The article also said that xml.apache.org is the place to go for
some great XML tools. So you fire up your browser and head on over to the
site to download a parser. When you get there you're taken aback a bit by
the long list of tools with funny names but it isn't too big of a deal. So
you start looking down the list and see xerces is an XML parser but there is
no link to find more info on xerces so you keep reading the list. When you
get to the bottom of the list you find crimson, hmm funny that is also an
XML parser. Still no link though so you fumble around a bit more and
discover the link for crimson on the toolbar and go to the project page.
When you get there you read a bit about the various specs it supports and
then get to the roadmap section which mentions that crimson is going to be
part of Xerces 2. So now you're thinking, hmm guess I should look at xerces
so you find your way to the project page for xerces. Again you start
reading, uh oh now it says that the xerces API is not stable yet. Hmm so
what do I do, crimson said it wasn't ready because it is going to become
xerces 2 and xerces 1 says that it isn't stable either. Ugh, I'm just
confused I guess I'll just go see what Microsoft has to offer since the boss
said VB was ok to use too.

Now this scenario is of course highly contrived, but I want to use it to
illustrate my point about thinking like a business. If you look at this as a
software developer you might say "the web site lists what projects are
available, the specs for those projects and the accurate status of the
project. All information is available and accurate and any user should be
able to figure out what they need from the information presented". Now if
you're thinking more like a business you will see that in this scenario you
just lost a "customer" because of bad "marketing" that confused that
"customer". Yes the person had all the raw information available to them but
the presentation assumed a much higher level of skill then the average
person will possess. As a software developer you see no problem and there is
therefore no reason to fix anything. But, if you are thinking like a
business you are asking questions like "When a user comes to the site are
they guided properly to the information they need?" and "When they find the
information they need is it presented at a proper level so that they will be
able to understand it without significant study and analysis?" and "After
visiting the site was the user satisfied enough to recommend the site and
the product to someone else?". Sounds like marketing type questions right?
And indeed they are, but what is really required to change a negative answer
into a positive one? In the scenario of the website the effort required to
fix the problem is insignificant compared to the effort required to build
something like xerces. And by solving the problem you really haven't done
anything that affects the core Open Source principles of the organization.
If fixing a simple problem like this gains you 20 new xerces users a month
isn't it worth thinking like a business from time to time?

Kimbro Staken
Chief Technology Officer
The dbXML Group L.L.C.

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