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August 23, 2006 / Steven Pousty

Some clarification

I would have left some of these comments on Paul’s blog but folks can’t leave comments.

I agree about the funding stream being important and different between firefox and geotools. But I would also argue that Linux was in a situation like geotools or postgis a while ago but it has been through growing their user base that they were able to get firehoses turned their way. It is easier to get people to contribute when they see how something benefits them directly. IBM contributed developers to Linux because their customers wanted to use Linux. I could see more money flowing uDig’s way if people felt like it did some more of what they wanted and was easier to use.

I don’t want uDig or GRASS to be ArcGIS or even expect it to that. I gave very specific functionality that I wanted so I could get “my” work done better. As a matter of fact if you made uDig like ArcGIS it would make me sad. I just want you to make things somewhat comfortable to me. Make me kick butt in as short a time as possible.

Most of the projects you point out are developer products but uDIG, GRASS, OpenJump, and QGIS are all targeted as desktop applications. PostGIS is kinda positioned as a data store for these desktop applications.
Since I have a developer background and I have done work with Excel in Java using POI, I have been trying to find the time to work on uDIG or openJump. I do see how I could contribute to the project.

I guess we fundamentally disagree over this statement (and by linkage association, Sean as well):

Open source is not about users, it is about developers. It is only about users in so far as users become sufficiently engaged in the project that they either become developers themselves, or support developers through careful bug finding or documentation.

I know there is debate in the OS community about this viewpoint, whether it was Moz versus Firefox, Linux, Linux desktops, Database admin GUIs. I guess for me it starts with users and a couple of developers. There are plenty of cases where starting from either perspective has killed a project, so I am not saying either perspective is “right”.

The one caveat to your statement is you can’t claim it is a developer product and then complain that people don’t use it. Look at how far that got ESRI with Server. Not that Paul has done that but there are other mumblings and such that go around.

My previous post was trying to help give some feedback about how to generate a critical mass of users. I may/probably will use GRASS, PostGIS, QGIS, and OpenJump or uDIG on my own time or for experimental purposes. And there you have it…

One final update after talking to James – my title for the original post was chosen on purpose. I am stuck in the middle – I really want to go to the OS side of the GIS world but given what I and my group need to do day in and day out I can’t. James points out people get what they pay for – and I would argue in this case it is way more than what they pay for – but it still doesn’t get me all the way there. Ok this might be a bad analogy but it is like a British car without the transmission for a person here in the US who needs to drive around now. I would love to buy it and I could get past the steering wheel on the wrong side, but I really need that trasmission in the car when I buy it. After that point then there is plenty of room for discussion. I hope the analogy didn’t make the whole thing worse so please don’t get too hung up on it…



Leave a Comment
  1. Sean Gillies / Aug 23 2006 3:15 pm

    I like the analogy, but I’d say that you generally get the transmission with open source. It’s the seats and paint job that are missing.

  2. thesteve0 / Aug 23 2006 3:36 pm

    Much better – thanks for the cleaning up the analogy. So you might be able to take it further and say the OS is for the people who like to rebuild autos or build kits and most people need more pieces pre-assembled before they purchase. They don’t need all of it pre-assembled, though there are quite a bit who want that, but there is also a large group who will do some assembly.

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