Should ideas be considered as sources?

Posted 9 Sep 2004 at 09:57 UTC by Malx Share This

While programming you should do lot's of decisions. The reason why you choose to implement something and something not is essential. Should it be considered as "sources" and also included with src distribution?

Lately there was lot's or rant about "developers can't freely modify sources in some software because they have no time to understand them". I will agree that comments should help. But still it is possible to include RFE discussion lists and textual design notes in archive. Same thing is for bugs and fixes.

The only line of code could containg lot's knowlege actually. But that would completely be lost if someone new to this project just will reimplement it "a better way". You are not able read all the aspects of code real world usage from the programm code.

Examples are from simple

char str[10]; // this is limited to 10 becouse of ....
char name[100]; // I do not know any name longer then 100 ;)
to complex:
// you could thing the good thing to implement this, but actually
// this will break those thing. And will lead to those misuse.
I just remembered the issue about "why ftp supporting code in older Netscape browser was so complex" :) The reason was it includes support for a long list of different incompatible ftp servers.

Another thing to consider is a database of possible usages. You know that software could be used in such a strange way the author will never think of :) Example is - you was able to use "locate db" to make an ftp search in addition to local fs search by submiting URLs list. But no more - that was improoved and you can't insert your own source data anymore. ;) Ok this in not actually too bad - one have a choice to stay with old sources, but that way you see how many things will break with new improovements. Something like "back dependencies".

I whould like to hear some comments to this :)

..., posted 9 Sep 2004 at 12:07 UTC by yeupou » (Master)

People that modify source code should request inclusion in the original software to upstream authors. Or, if not possible, they should ask the upstream authors to add a module system.

If you modify source code of a software and you want to benefit of further developments of this software, you have many options. You can't just hack your own copy and expect upstream authors to stop developing new features just in case it breaks your crap.

Beware..., posted 9 Sep 2004 at 17:55 UTC by gwolf » (Journeyer)

For the Free Software community, that will work just fine, and comprehensive, descriptive comments are always welcome. However, if you say that the idea is part of the source, then it should be copyrightable (as well as the code itself). Then, we have the equivalent of software patents, but enforced by the copyright law. And down that lane lies complete chaos.

FUD, posted 9 Sep 2004 at 20:00 UTC by mirwin » (Master)

<gwolf> A judge would laugh even Microsoft out of court if they claimed that because they included design decision information in project documentation they somehow had an enforceable claim. Most design informtion is demonstrably not new or unique and prior existing art invalidates patents or copyrights.

Speaking generally, the more complex open systems become the more critical it becomes to document the design decisions for others if the componet in question is too remain viable. At some point if good information is not available, pieces will become too difficult to modify and will either be frozen or replaced from scratch.

If the design changes contemplated are deemed by the maintaining developers as inappropriate or not best for the component's user base, or the maintainer's future plans for the component, then the designer is faced with either revising his/her design to use the existing component as is, committing to maintaining a unique local component which will not automagically improve with age as per the proven open/free paradigm, or writing their component from scratch.

In each of the three cases above good information regarding design decisions is valuable to the designer attempting to reuse the code in question.

Globus License, posted 10 Sep 2004 at 01:28 UTC by mirwin » (Master)

This license appears to cover all forms of documentation regarding design decisions and mthodologies. It appears that it (or a tailored version) would be extremely useful to an open community such as which deals with multiple types of data. Anyone have any insight, opinion or initial thoughts regarding the license or the global community?

opinion or initial thoughts regarding the license or the global community? , posted 10 Sep 2004 at 06:21 UTC by yeupou » (Master)

Do we need one more new license? Before thinking *waow there's a new license out there that can be applied to my work, I should try it*, it is sounds more logical to first think about the need of a new license.

answs, posted 10 Sep 2004 at 10:12 UTC by Malx » (Journeyer)

gwolf: IMHO most of ideas in opensource are already implemented :) But your point is interesting.

yeupou: Which one exist? GPL is for software only|: "to make sure the software is free for all its users". But you need some licensing to any other work such as documentation, design, database, images (and theirs sources), foto, video, audio (OpenMusic - OML). Are all of possible data types covered?

mirwin: thanks for comment! Regarding global license - It is hard to make the only one for all types of data because of different meaning of "derived work" and "usage".

yeupou: regarding ftp searching with locate - I need not modify sources. The project was modular - I have used only some of modules. But now it became solid and I can't reuse part of it anymore. Still this is not the case. Even pre-notification of possible breakage of some dependent projects would be great. You need not keep compatibility with all of them, but at leas you could warn them before you release new version.

And for all: There is simple example. If you use UML diagram for your project and then generate sources based on it should you think of this diagram as a "source" ?
Is it enough to provide a link to this info? (that is a case for RFC described designs).

GPL is for software only, posted 10 Sep 2004 at 18:54 UTC by yeupou » (Master)

There are plenty of licenses for others kinds of work, like Creative Commons stuff etc.

License appears business friendly, it governs existing tools, not vaporware., posted 10 Sep 2004 at 23:29 UTC by mirwin » (Master)

So the real question is how is it usefully applied in mixing and matching components of grid product. It is not going to goaway. The consortium community looks extremely well funded via DARPA, NASA, and other elements of U.S. DOD. I assume that similar levels of funding is coming from Europe and possibly elsewhere. Sometime in the last few years the open paradigm really blossomed and somehow I missed it with all the browsing and google activities. We win. They have acknowledged that the open paradigm works and modified it to suit the needs of business, academia, and government science, engineering, and commercial economic activity.

If I understood the license correctly it pretty well guarantees the globus tookit for grid development and the components and data licensed under it are available for commercial use royalty free. I think it allows the use of the components in a business product where other components are proprietary property of the business and closed source. I am currently leading a team which is setting up a business that I intend to be completely open and transparent and deliver maximum value back to the commons as fairly possible while distributing economic benefits fairly to all stakeholders in the community. It will come as no surprise to many that I plan to use advogato (or perhaps as a starting point for building community, tracking community perception of contribution of merit, and rewarding the same via an option scheme that I think is workable, I am still tweaking the approach but it will be developed openly and in gory detail on the community site as a perequisite to completing the initial organization and stock offering.

However, I have cash investors and it is possible that the board or common stock vote might direct me that we will preserve our alternatives until it is sufficiently clear that the business model and corporate government that the community develops and that the active cash investors ratify is more profitably an open/free vs. partially propriety model. Fortunately I have amassed plenty of arguments and examples from cruising and participating in the open paradigm here and elsewhere so I am confident that I can carry the day. It may take a while to build a solid consensus however as many of the inital investors I am approaching are unfamiliar with the open paradigm.

So a partial answer is that my corporation does not need another license but since the Globus Development Tookit looks extremely promising for grid application development unless we find a better approach we will be faced with verifying the various licenced open/free components and projects we participate in hard handled correctly in conjunction with this brand new license. Other businesses attempting to embrace the open/free paradigm by getting their toes wet vs. jumping in the deep end may very well need this license. Certainly the domain scientists, computer scientists and software engineers who seem to be the community have embraced it whole heartedly. There is an incredible amount of promising work already available to support design and development efforts even if a project chooses a different license. Royalty free! To me that means that if a patent owning organization agreed to the community license and has submitted the code, concepts and agorythms which are packaged and delivered are part of the toolkit they are committed to not hassling us regarding our commercial royalty free use of the their patent. Meanwhile open source licenses do not really address this.

On the mailing list archives for Mnet there was a reference that seemed to imply they could not use a key algorythm that is available from Ocean Store project (BSD license because it is patented. Obviously our development community lawyers will have some work to do before we can complete our initial design phase survey and select an initial approach to merging and packaging the components necessary to our product.

I welcome any further opinions or insights of the pros and cons of using mixing and matching components separated by APIs and lcensed under (so far) the BSD, GPL, and now the GDK comumunity while developing grid components for community (stakeholder) economic gain. I do not think the existing open/free licenses are going away either, it is a question of defining the methods and constraints involved in mixing and matching them usefully to grow economies and commons worldwide in all fields of human endeaver.

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!

Share this page