ProtoCiv: porting Freeciv to Python CANNED

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.net
Thu Jan 29 11:35:21 CET 2004


Chuck Spears <Chuck at spears.com> wrote in message news:<ojof1057b4o9kurh6a55f1rfan4d8v3l53 at 4ax.com>...

[Quoting someone else...]

> >The conclusion may seem obvious to _you_ but this is no guarantee that
> >everyone else also possesses this knowledge. OSS is being hailed as
> >the second coming,

...by generally clueless analysts and journalists whose day job seems
to focus exclusively on speculation and rumour forwarding, switching
over to hyping Microsoft and other vendors "du jour" when they feel
the need to encourage a "debate".

> If you can get by his trolling and unbearable arrogance,  there are
> some kernels of truth in there.  I come from a commercial background
> as well but instead of trying to exploit the OSS community, ive been
> lurking around looking for a project I feel I could contribute to. 

Yes, this is the key to the issue. If you regard open source software
as a huge pile of "free stuff" to plunder, then whilst you may get
some productivity benefits in the short term, the longer term will
most likely bring maintenance issues as the community continues on its
own course and you continue on yours. (If you actually have a course
of developing the code, that is, as opposed to just dropping the
plundered code into some directory and virtually forgetting that you
have it.)

>  Most geeks by their nature, are very independent and abhor order.

I'm not sure that I equate "open source developer" with "geek" in the
same way that this generalisation demands, but if you mean that most
open source developers who are working on projects in their own time
or under their own motivation won't take orders from newcomers, I
think it's quite obvious why that is.

> You have to have order to get anything done.

True, but numerous open source projects have "order" without
conventional forms of management. On the other hand, if you're saying
that a bunch of "elite" 13 year olds on IRC can't scale their project
beyond a slightly larger group of well-trained primates, then you're
making an obvious point.

>                                               Thats why most
> successful projects have one or at most a few people pulling the
> strings because if you don't, the project will flounder.   I've
> personally based a few of my projects on some OSS projects and they
> failed miserably.  Because of the bugs and the Authors unwilligness to
> address them or even accept them as bugs.  You can say "well why didnt
> you just fix it yourslef" but I just didnt have the time.

There are lots of reasons why developers can't or won't fix the bugs.
It's quite a common phenomenon in the commercial software world, too,
but the reasons are more likely to be political there. Meanwhile, you
don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to understand developer
motivations around such issues in open source projects; quite often,
developers don't have access to the same environment and can't
reproduce or diagnose the bugs that you're experiencing, for example.

> On the other side of the coin, i've used OSS projects like PHP and
> Postgres with great results.
> 
> The other problem with hobbyist geek programmers is they are just in
> it for the fun of it.

How many people with a hobby do it because they don't enjoy it?

>                        They get bored when the last 10% of the project
> which is mostly bug fixing and rengineering code coes about and
> generally abandon it.

Perhaps many projects need assistance from real-world users in order
to get that last 10% done. Consider cases like The Gimp where the
original developers basically dropped the code before the 1.0 release,
but where interested parties picked it up and finished the job. If
every project suffered from the same symptoms that you describe, there
wouldn't be such a thing as GNOME, Sun's Java Desktop System and so
on. Perhaps JDS would be based on KDE instead, however. ;-)

>                        I've poked into literally over one hundred
> sourceforge projects that started out as good ideas and had lots of
> activity.  i'd come back in 6 months and There would be almost no
> activity.  With a developer with a commericial background, he might be
> more willing to see the project through.

Yes, perhaps because he'd be paid to see it through.

> I too get annoyed when an OSS author pulls a massive library into his
> project just to get a few functions out of it he could have written
> himself.  It's really problematic as Brandon has said when you are
> using CygWin or Ming because a lot of these libraries dont work on it.

Just because one is developing with open source software doesn't mean
that one is suddenly exempt from normal software engineering
principles. Perhaps that was what the quoted contributor meant by
those "second coming" claims, but most people understand that the
universe doesn't change its rules on the basis of rumours derived from
misinterpretations of claims by Eric S. Raymond.

Paul



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