Archive for February, 2011

Where does the experience really starts?

Posted: 22 February, 2011 in Activiti
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Scott Francis often write interesting small blogs about things related to BPM. His latest blog (as of this time of writing), The Experience Starts in the First Minute, is about perceiving a BPMS in relation to it’s installation. I agree with him that getting things up and running without expensive consultants is a plus. But…as always the proof of the pudding is in the eating, or using it in case of Rick Hightower and Activiti.

Einstein already said it: “IT should be as simple as possible, but not simpler” (IT being my own addition ;-). Why do I get to this? Simply because I think there is a downside to making things too simple. I’ve seen it happening with jBPM and with Activiti now as well. Tom Baeyens has always advocated that BPMN has both a technical and business aspect to it, Activiti Cycle being the one of the results. But if the installer is that simple any ‘suit’ might think he can do it all by himself, without IT. Yeah… right, would be the same as me saying I do not need sales people to sell my ‘product’ (anyone ever tried cold acquisition?).  The fact that this is true can be seen by the level/quality of the questions in the forums. If things get simpler, you get way more noob questions… People that do not know how to use search(engines), understand reporting issues, understand that the demo setup is just that, a demo setup and nothing to be tweeked for production use. This does not happen on the mailinglist of BetterForm, a great XForms engine. The ‘demo setup is also not difficult there, but you quickly become aware that you need to use it in combination with IT (and this is not critique).

So my suggestion: Pose a question to the user when he (she?) executes ‘ant demo.setup’ asking him if he wears a suit. If he answers ‘yes’ , we should register his ip-address and only allow access to a ‘beginners’ forum for at least a year (yes even if he is from a high-profile consultancy firm ;-)) since experience comes with the years and not in the first minute.

The spirit of opensource

Posted: 22 February, 2011 in opensource

For over a year now, I’m an enthousiastic (personal) user of the the PrimeFaces JSF component set. They made a great choice to not develop the components themselves from full scratch but leverage existing frameworks like JQuery and YUI.

It is backed by Prime Technology, a fairly small company so PrimeFaces does not have the financial backing Like Activity has  (Alfresco) so they need to make money in different ways like consultancy, training, commercial support, commercial license or whatever a creative mind can come up with. Now everybody knows documentation and certainly good documentation, requires huge amounts of work. So to me it is no suprise that the high quality documentation of Primefaces is not going to be free anymore. Especially not since it will contain more information than the previous open documentation did and even more since it still is cheap especially for medium sized companies. So why this blog? PrimeTechnology announced the rules will change. A little that is, but it attracted a response by ‘A project lead’.

If anything is not in the spirit of opensource it is complaining like this. With me being part of the jBPM project for many years and spending many hours in the forum, I think I have a good foundation to comment why I think this is true.

The spirit of open source has nothing to do with free (as in beer) access to documentation. Having decent documentation for free is a gift, having good free documentation should be considered a blessing, not something you can ‘demand’. The spirit of opensource is about using and contributing back and in my opinion contributing back is more than using it, reporting issues and complaning they do not get fixed. That is called leaching. And complaining the businessmodel should be changed, is also a great pile of something that comes out of a cow’s behind (sorry, could not formulated it any more decent).

Has any of you ever looked at why Backbase did not succeed with a fully commercial version, or why openfaces came to existence (anybody remember QuipuKit?), or the rise (and fall?) of Apache ADF (once ‘contributed’ by Oracle and left to rust for the commercial version) or the ‘donation’ by Exadel of Richfaces to JBoss …  Besides the latter, they all have in one way or another a commercial aspect in their project… saying the change Prime Technology is making is that they support the ‘per seat license’ now should be followed then with an ‘a commercial license is unacceptable’, heck, why not even demand the support should be onsite, 24x7x52 (never understood why it was 365) and free. I just get the feeling nothing is good enough for this ‘project lead’ (hiding behind a alias hmmm…)

Even Alfresco had a dual licensed version in the earlier days until they reached a maturity point where I suspect some of there bigger paying customers have said they would not stop buying support if the change was made to what the license model is now.  Primefaces or rather Prime Technology is not there yet.

Companies that rely that havily on documentation that they need a new version every month because PrimeFaces changes that quick (read: improves/grows which is a plus imo) should look ‘inside’ at the quality of their development team. Oh right, better developers are more expensive… why did I forget that. If in the company I work for we start using PrimeFaces, I’ll try my utmost best to make sure we buy a 10 developer documentation each year (although we only have 5 developers). Oh and when PrimeFaces 3 comes out, I’ll buy that documentation personally.

Luckily there are other more constructive comments and I honestly do not think it will hurt the growing community and the ‘peer support’ as some other post mentiones.

Keep up the good work (although opening the project a little more would help, but that is probably a  matter of time)

(edit: some small but annoying typos fixed)