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)

  1. Great analysis of the situation, thanks for your valuable comments.

  2. Pitutos says:

    Totally agree!!!

  3. Alexandre Verri says:

    I totally agree with this. I believe that the main value of opensource is the contribution. If the contribution does not exists, the opensource dies.

    I bought my Primefaces ebook because I think it has a great value. Personaly, I think in the work that Cagatay had to create it.

    There are some people that always wants to everything to be free. These people are like leeches. If you have many leeches in you body, you die. Luckly, many opensource projects (and Primefaces is one of them) has a lot of people that believe in the spirit of opensource.

    The relationship between the project itself and the community members must be a kind o ‘symbiosis’.

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