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If Everyone Cared

Posted by editor on January 9, 2009 at 6:05 AM PST


Is lecturing users really going to help grow OSS?

jruhnke vents in today's forums:

Why is there such a disparity in the JREs in use these days. I can't write a descent application these days without having to include a bunch 3rd party libraries to deal with basic platform deficiencies. Take for example (Java Comm.) there is no one library (framework) that works for Windows, Linux, Solaris, and MacOS. Even the 3rd libraries don't work properly all the time.

This prompted a reply from peter__lawrey:

Open source libraries rely on people identifying a need for something and then implementing it. Java runs on many platforms, but that doesn't mean it will have all the functionality you need on every platform. There is often some bit you will need to invest in to make it happen.
You could consider getting enterprise support and paying to get this functionality or writing an open source library yourself.

This is a pattern I'm sure you've seen before: someone asks on a forum for something, or complains that it doesn't seem to exist, and gets a reply that basically boils down to "you should write it yourself, and then contribute it to the community."

Does this strike anyone else as an anti-pattern? If the first person could easily write the thing they're asking for, or fund its development, they probably wouldn't be asking for it on a forum in the first place. And if someone is frustrated enough to go public complaining that the software out there doesn't do what they need, how effective is it to respond with a lecture about open source?

Seriously, whose needs are being met here? Not the person asking for the code they need. Instead, this rote OSS reply focuses on what the OSS community needs: more code. And if the person asking for a library is developing an end-user application, then even if you succeed in persuading them to go write the library themselves and then open-source it, a side-effect is that you've converted an application developer into a library developer. Doesn't it seem like there are more OSS libraries than applications, particularly in Java? Do you think that's an accident, or a natural result of what the community values and how it behaves?

One of the much-touted "seven habits of highly-effective people" is "win/win, or no deal". When we interact with others, inside and outside our community, we should probably think about whether or not we're offering them a "win".


Also in today's Forums, tjquinn asks you to
Please review and comment on the GlassFish v3 deployment one-pager. "The one-pager for GlassFish v3 deployment is now available for review and comment. The official review period is one week, so please post your comments and feedback as replies to this forum thread by 15 Jan 2009. We will try to consider feedback that arrives after that but we cannot guarantee we will be able to do so. You can find the one-pager here: http://wiki.glassfish.java.net/Wiki.jsp?page=gfv3-deployment-one-pager".

Glassfish mbean for controlling MDB, sppugazh writes, "Is there any mbean interface with the functionality like controlling the MDB. My requirement is like the MDB consumes a queue but at times i might need to stop the MDB. Is there any other provision in glassfish to achieve this functionality.I found one document related to oc4j which has a mbean to control the mbean."


In Java Today,
Substance project owner Kirill Grouchnikov is setting out his Substance goals for 2009. "A clear and well-defined set of goals is crucial for projects of all sizes, and Substance is no exception. The project goal has been refined and refocused to guide the project throughout the year 2009 and is: to provide a rock solid, fast and extensible library for creating visually appealing and consistent Swing applications"

In Repeating the JVM Language Summit Danny Coward recalls the first-ever event and points out how you can catch up. "Many of those who attended the first JVM Language Summit last September judged it to be a great success worth repeating. You can see video of the talks here, like Charlie Nutter's talk on the pain, in all the dirty details, of bringing Ruby to the Java platform. Or John Pampuch on the VM optimisations in HotSpot. Examples from Cliff Click on where languages from Scala to JavaScript can take advantage of optimisations in the JVM."

The jLab environment aims to provide a Matlab/Scilab like scientific computing platform that is supported by scripting engines implemented in the Java language. The GroovySci language, an adaptation of Groovy allows compiled mathematical scripting that compares to Matlab's performance and is significantly faster from other open-source similar environments (e.g. Scilab, Octave). The project recently announced a split into a "kernel" version with just the scripting engine and a simpler UI, leaving out the many specialized scientific libraries of the full version.


In today's Weblogs, Jean-Francois Arcand slims the protypical app server down to just a few dozen lines of code, in
Extending the Grizzly HTTP Runtime part V: Programatically configuring Servlet and GrizzlyAdapter.
"A lot of applications/framework out there just consist of a single Servlet that dispatch requests to its appropriate internal components (like Hudson). In such case, a full blown Servlet Container might not be needed....but a tiny 800k Grizzly might be!"

Fabrizio Giudici reflects on the status and momentum of blueMarine in Bye bye 2008 and here it comes 2009. "Happy new year to everybody. Continuing an initiative that I started one year ago, I'd like to draw a summary of my 2008 and express my intended plans for 2009, just in case this can be inspiring for other people..."

Arun Gupta has resumed his tips series with a vengeance, posting three tips in the last day or so. In
TOTD #61: How to locally manage/monitor your Rails/Merb applications on JRuby/GlassFish using JMX?, he writes, "GlassFish Gem can easily run both Rails and Merb application. Using JRuby, as opposed to MRI, allows you to use standard Java monitoring framework and tools. Java Management Extensions (JMX) is a standard management and monitoring solution for Java platform. This Tip Of The Day shows how to apply JMX techniques to monitor Rails/Merb applications."


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Is lecturing users really going to help grow OSS?

Comments

"Does this strike anyone else as an anti-pattern? If the first person could easily write the thing they're asking for, or fund its development, they probably wouldn't be asking for it on a forum in the first place. And if someone is frustrated enough to go public complaining that the software out there doesn't do what they need, how effective is it to respond with a lecture about open source?"

It is effective. Most people see open source as no more than a means to get freebies. So the person complaining in many cases is indeed venting his frustration that noone is doing his work for him. In case of reporting bugs in existing OSS applications you do have a point, but this example (and most of them) relate to people simply whining that there's no freebie available that does what they want.

Of course they may be technically incapable of creating it themselves, but that doesn't give anyone the right to demand others spend their time doing something without pay, which is essentially what often happens.

"Seriously, whose needs are being met here? Not the person asking for the code they need. Instead, this rote OSS reply focuses on what the OSS community needs: more code"

It addresses both parties' needs, if the person picks up the gauntlet and gets coding instead of waiting for someone to do it for him for free. But of course what the OSS community really needs is more people to do coding on things that aren't "sexy" or mainstream within the (quite narrow in my experience) worldview of your typical OSS project lead.

The rote response is (certainly in this case) a tit for tat. Someone asks the community to do his work for them, the community answers with "why don't you our work for us" (where that work of course really is the work of the person asking the original question, not the community though if the gauntlet is picked up it would end up being part of the community in the end, growing the community by people as well as code).

Thanks for sharing thoughts on the OSS related issues..