Friday, April 17, 1998 at 11:06:46 AM Pacific

Responses to Casbah

This morning I posted a pointer to a claim made on the Casbah mailing list about my trustworthiness. I've been watching this list because I've been curious to see how an open source development process works. I've also been wondering if it's typical of that kind of development process. Also they say some very negative things about me, and for whatever perverse reason, I'm fascinated with this. Whatever.

Anyway, I got a couple emails from Scripting News readers relating to this stuff, and wanted to share them.

From Monty Hayter, MHayter@creo.com

Ten years is a long time on any one project (I know - finished 8 years on a project last fall)...but you can feel good knowing that it's been worth it - at least to those of us using or learning to use Frontier. :)

On Casbah, I just read the "Dave warning" post, and poked around the site a little. It appears that they're aiming to duplicate Frontier under Linux. I'm not sure how I feel about that...personally, I'd rather have a Linux implementation of Frontier, rather than something new, and I believe most Frontier users would agree. The merits of Tcl, Perl, Python, etc. notwithstanding, there's a heavy intellectual investment in UserTalk scripts. Plus, they appear to be very focused on producing a Linux product - which may be difficult or even impossible to port to Windows or MacOS.

I've even revised my thoughts on a Linux implementation of Frontier, after consideration. There's just too many tools available under Win/Mac that can't be had under Linux. Sure, the GIMP provides a free PhotoShop-equivalent, but what about mail? I like Eudora! What about a browser that does DHTML, or CSS better than Netscape's incomplete handling? No, much as I like and appreciate Linux and the free software available, it is not really a practical day-to-day environment for many of us - without a second (or third...) machine, there's just too much rebooting happening.

So, while there may be a Linux box off to the side that's providing the serving to the world at large, most content developers are and will use the Mac or Windows - and guess what? There's already a freely available, proven, content management system available...called Frontier. Unless I was obsessively compulsive about having the source code to every application I use, why would I use anything different, as long as UserLand supports any stadards that develop out of the current foofarah?

Paul Snively, chewy@mcione.com

From the link to the Casbah mailing list:

However, I'd recommend forming a group to discuss the details of such a thing -- AFAIK none exists. Even use Dave's work as a starting point and invite Userland to be on the group. I just don't trust Dave one IOTA when it comes to something he "controls" and being open to suggestions. Is he open to bug reports and patches? Yes. Is he open to "you know, you could do more with this if you..." No, unless you're employed by Dave.

Wow! Did I ever have a strong reaction to this! I'm very offended for you, I suppose because my experience as a non-employee of UserLand has completely contradicted this assertion.

Who the hell is Jim Hebert? Where's his web site? What product is he giving away that gives me anything resembling the leverage that Frontier does? I'm very angry that what I consider to be slanderous statements about someone I respect very highly are floating around the mailing list for some self-appointed guardians of "free software" or "open source" or whatever the PC term du jour is.

Given the nature of the list he's writing on, he'll claim that Frontier doesn't count because not *all* of the source code is available. To me, this is religious fundamentalism in the worst sense of the phrase, because in practice Frontier gives me all the source I realistically need for it to be right up there among the most powerful environments I've used--the others being, e.g. Squeak Smalltalk, which goes so far as being able to spit out the C source to its own bytecode interpreter, and the various dialects of Lisp that I love so much, because I can redefine anything, anytime, including runtime.

You've been a consistent advocate of XML based on its being a supremely flexible open standard, and you've written about your commitment to XML's invisibility precisely so that the on-the-wire format can (as it almost certainly will) change as various entities' approaches (UserLand's, DataChannel's, webMethods', the Perl community's, the Java community's, etc.) converge onto a de facto, if not W3C, standard. As a result, if I found that Frontier's XML-RPC protocol were incompatible with some other software I cared about, I could go into my root file, modify some scripts, and replace the on-the-wire protocol, or maybe extend it so that both were supported. After all, that's a big part of what makes Frontier great.

In the final analysis, I really just wanted to say that I disagree as strongly as possible with the warning, but I also wanted to be fairly specific about why. Please please please put this on the public mail pointer.

Thanks much, and I very much look forward to Frontier 5.0.2/Betty!

Jim Hebert

Jim Hebert, the guy who told the Linux business people not to trust me, gets the last word.


Dave Winer
April 17, 1998

This page was last built on 4/17/98; 3:11:05 PM by Dave Winer. dave@scripting.com