[IronPython] Thoughts on IronPython

Thane thane at magna-capital.com
Tue Mar 29 03:31:07 CEST 2005

Dear Jim (and anyone else interested in the future of IronPython),

I've attached below emails that seem to echo a lot of the sentiment coming
from the Open Source/Free Software community regarding IronPython.  The
essence of these messages is generally:
	"You must do this, this, and this (insert list of demands/requests
here), or I'm not going to contribute to your project because of (insert
list of objections here).  And if you don't get my help, IronPython will die
a miserable death.  Oh yes, and Microsoft is evil (insert list of sins)."

Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but sometimes we need to be

First, no one can create software for free.  Period.  Somebody, somewhere,
must pay for the resources and time required to create it.  In this sense,
there is no such thing as "Free Software".  You might get it for free, but
only at someone else's expense.  I point this out because you created a
wonderful piece of software and most generously gave it away.  In so doing,
you spawned a group of passionate enthusiasts who now feel as if they are
co-owners of your creation, and are genuinely interested in seeing it grow
and thrive.  While it is wonderful that you now have a "community", it is
important that note that this community does not own IronPython, and is not
essential for either its success or demise.  Only you are.

Second, you made a decision to sell your software to the Microsoft
Corporation (perhaps not in the literal sense, but at least figuratively as
they have hired you for your time and programming talents).  While this was
not the only avenue for furthering your work on IronPython, it is certainly
a viable choice with many obvious advantages.  The point is that you made a
choice, and as part of the passionate IronPython community I can respect
that choice.  IronPython was your property and you had every right to do
with it as you saw fit.

Third, your obligations with respect to IronPython are now to Microsoft, and
not to the passionate IronPython community I spoke of earlier.  This will
cause you grief in the short run (as evidenced below), but should not be
ignored entirely, as some of the suggestions are both insightful and useful,
and may ultimately benefit both IronPython and your new employer.

Fourth and finally, if you build it, they will come (apologies to K.
Costner).  With the successful development and growth of IronPython, all of
the grumblings about the current course of IronPython will come to nothing.
You have the talent, capability, and resources to create a truly first class
product.  I sincerely hope that you do.

All my best,

--Thane Plummer

P.S.  It's perfectly reasonable to expect people to pay for good software.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: users-ironpython.com-bounces at lists.ironpython.com [mailto:users-
> ironpython.com-bounces at lists.ironpython.com] On Behalf Of Andreas Kotes
> Sent: Monday, March 28, 2005 4:56 PM
> To: users-ironpython.com at lists.ironpython.com
> Subject: Re: [IronPython] Ironpython 0.7 released!
> Hello again,
> * Jonathan LaCour <jonathan-lists at cleverdevil.org> [20050329 00:39]:
> > So, to review my pie-in-the-sky wishes to guarantee IronPython success:
> >   1. Switch to a similar, but respected license.
> >       - Bonus points for picking the same license as mono.
> >   2. Ditch the gotdotnet forums.  Make the mailing list "the way".
> >   3. Don't require a passport to file bugs.
> >   4. Have a public SVN or CVS repository.
> >   5. Be open to accepting external patches.
> >   6. Have at least one other "committer" (to help lighten the load on
> you).
> >       - Bonus points if this person is outside Microsoft.
> >       - Extra bonus points if this person is a respected Mono hacker.
> >
> > Items 1, 3, and 5 are non-negotiable to me.  If you don't do these at
> least, I
> > guarantee that the project will stagnate, and something like Boo will
> become
> > more widely accepted (especially by Open Source types).
> >
> > Anyway. I don't want to criticize you too much, as I think IronPython is
> a great
> > piece of work.  I would just hate to see such a great opportunity be
> missed!
> I could not agree more. Anything less will make IronPython 'nice', but
> nothing more - at least not until Microsoft pushes it heavily, then it
> will be another nice, forced, and despised steal by Microsoft.
> sorry for being this candid, but I think this needs to be clear.
> Regards,
>    Count
> --
> Andreas Kotes - PGP 0x8F94C228 - The views expressed herein are (only)
> mine!
> All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability.
> The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.
> -- Bruce Lee (1940-1973, martial artist, actor, director, author)
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