[Mailman-Developers] PHP Wrappers?

Kevin McCann kmccann at cruciverb.com
Thu Nov 17 20:49:38 CET 2005

Brad Knowles wrote:

>     If you look at the Mailman FAQ Wizard entries related to this 
> subject (and the threads that they link to), most of the useful 
> information regarding integration with CMSes, web board discussion 
> systems, etc... has come from Tobias Eigen at Kabissa and various 
> things that he's said on the mailman-users mailing list.

Yes, I'm familiar with Kabissa. And Tobias and I have had a few back and 
forth messages. I had wanted to follow up with him on a few things a 
while back but life got in the way. (Hi, Tobias... hope all is well!)

>     If you had information that was useful in these areas and you were 
> willing to share it with us, I guarantee that this would go into the 
> FAQ and would benefit the larger community.

Well, yes, I think I do have things to share. I have been running MLM's 
for 12 years and I had significant involvement in the development of 
Dgroups (created the message interface (including QP and base64 
decoding), events calendar module, list creation/deletion/renaming 
routines, and a few other tidbits. Lessons were certainly learned in 
developing a front end to an MLM (in this case, Lyris) and if there is 
any way I can share some of those things as a positive contribution to 
MM activities, that would be great.

>>                                We wanted other international development
>>  organizations, especially in developing countries, to be able to have a
>>  dgroups for themselves. Essentially decentralize the service and build
>>  capacity in the south. But commercial software was not practical, 
>> and we
>>  really had moved toward open source policies by this point, anyway.
>     The folks at Kabissa have taught me that commercial stuff can be 
> practical, if it is the best way to achieve the desired goals.  They 
> have commercial hosting.  They have commercial support for their 
> platform.  They have some commercial software that they have used as 
> part of their system.
>     It's not forbidden to spend money.  They try to avoid commercial 
> stuff and use open source where possible, but sometimes the only 
> viable solution is commercial -- and that's okay.  What's important is 
> to minimize the overall total cost of development and support of the 
> system, and sometimes to keep TCO down it's better to spend a bit more 
> money up-front.

I hear what you're saying, and in fact my inital response, when asked 
about an OS version of Dgroups, was "the time is not right." I came to 
that conculsion after having a look at the OS MLM landscape. I said from 
the get-go that developing an OS version of Dgroups without the 
existence of a DB-based MLM was pure folly. But politics came into play. 
The powers that be said "OS version: Make it happen"

Personally, I could totally deal with using some commercial components. 
But, as much as I like Lyris as a product, the fees they charge are 
exhorbitant and beyond the means of many organizations. And, again, the 
goal was to be able to allow these smaller organizations to set 
something up themselves and run with it. It allows computer 
professionals in impoverished nations to develop skills and be 
self-supporting. A noble goal, in my opinion.

>     So now you're going back and trying to re-work things so as to do 
> everything with open source, and you're frustrated that it's not as 
> easy to do with open source as it was with commercial software. That's 
> easy to understand -- a lot of stuff can be frustrating with open 
> source if you're trying to compare it to commercial software.

For me, the most frustrating part is knowing that the time is not right 
for technical reasons but having to do it anyway because of political 
reasons (and, of course, the political reasons are borne from good 
intentions: helping the needy). To say that I have felt caught in the 
middle in all of this over the past few years would be an understatement.

>     You meant well, although you chose a method of expressing yourself 
> that I found objectionable.  I think we can get past this.

I think we can get past this, too. In the end we're on the same team, 
even if our goals are a bit different.

Admittedly, I responded as a frustrated person. See, I tried very hard 
to get MM3 funding to happen behind the scenes. I wrote concept papers, 
drew diagrams at staff meetings. I spent a lot of time and energy 
convincing colleagues that connecting MM2 to other components with 
Scotch Tape was pure folly and that MM3 investment was the way to go. I 
finally got buy-in, only to see the whole thing go up in smoke because 
of availability issues. Seeing the MM3 funding go down the toilet was a 
*huge* disappointment to me. And when I saw someone on the list suggest 
that the quick solution is to wait for MM3, well, I guess I let my 
frustration show.  :-(    I do apologize for that.

Nevertheless, I still want to help. Eventhough I'm no longer with my 
previous org. (or in international development at the moment), I still 
want to see solutions for the Dgroups and the Kabissas of the world who 
want to do good things for people who need a helping hand. So, when MM3 
gets moving, I'll be sure to listen in, try to learn what I can from the 
group, and offer anything that might be of value.

Sound fair? Are we good?

- Kevin

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