Back in January at Lotusphere there was
a huge cheer when, during the opening general session, it was announced
that IBM would be providing some resources to and partnering with OpenNTF.
It is something that many in the notes community, especially those who
have active projects on OpenNTF have been vocal about in the past and the
announcement looked like IBM were going to listen to what the people wanted
and help out.
and OpenNTF redesign, however, makes me feel that OpenNTF has lost some
of it’s roots and is dangerously close to heading in the wrong direction
and alienating the very developers that made it successful.
I like the idea of the catalog of high
quality applications but right now it just contains IBM projects. There
are plenty of other OpenNTF projects that deserved to be in the catalog
from day one including, but not limited to, the OpenNTF Mail Experience,
!!HELP!!, Vacation Requests, OpenLog and even my own BlogSphere project.
Right now all I am seeing is self promotion of IBM projects. This is something
that needs to be rectified quickly before people visiting the site just
see if as a repository for IBM sanctioned templates.
And what exactly is OpenNTF all about,
well in my mind the main reason for OpenNTF are the different projects
but they seem to have taken a back seat to the catalog, yes there are plenty
of ‘half finished’ projects in there, they need to be weeded out but definitely
not forgotten about. Some of those projects contain some great code that
could help somebody out. The active projects need to be brought back out
to the homepage for the site, not just the list of catalog items. These
are the guts of OpenNTF and the projects are what made OpenNTF work. Hopefully
somebody somewhere is working on a redesign of this area and will incorporate
all the ideas that have been mentioned in the IdeaJam area.
My biggest issue however is the red
tape that has sprung up. If I want to ‘commit’ new code for something like
BlogSphere I’m first going to have to get written consent
from my employer. If anybody out there wants to contribute some code for
Blogsphere to me then I’m going to have to do my own due diligence to make
sure that your authorized by your employer to submit the code and that
you in fact own the code your submitting to me. I know this is all cover
your backside sort of stuff but this sort of change should have been discussed
with ALL the current project owners on OpenNTF.
And lets not forget the license, No
more using any license other the Apache Public License V2 except with express
permission of the new steering committee. Not not all open source licenses
are the same. Did you know that under the Apache V2 license anybody can
take your code from OpenNTF, make modifications and then patent their changes
and sell the modified code as part of their products as long as they include
the attributions and original license document, whereas GPL or LGPL states
that they can only distribute the modified work if the distribution is
also a GPL’d or LGPL’d. My take on this is that by forcing the Apache license
IBM can then selectively include certain templates from OpenNTF in the
next release of Notes/Domino if they meet certain standards. How would
you feel if a business partner redistributed the top 50 projects on OpenNTF
as ‘The New Nifty Fifty’ and made a profit on it. Is this something that
project managers would like to see happen? IS the restriction of the Open
Source license to APL V2 a good thing or a bad thing?
OpenNTF has been a great resource since
it’s conception, From it’s humble beginnings as NotesOSS with a single
project based on the mail template till today, OpenNTF has attracted some
brilliant ideas and developers but all this could easily be lost if the
new steering committee is not careful.
So I have one message to the members
of the new steering committee… Don’t forget who OpenNTF is for and what
it’s original purpose was. You are in a position of trust and you can either
steer the site back onto a path of collaborative development or you can
steer it over the edge of a cliff into obscurity and red tape. A group
of 10 people in a steering committee does not make a website, it’s the
users of the site that make the difference.
And to any commenter who wants to say
that if I don’t like the changes I could just pull my projects from the
site, I say this… Yes I could and who knows it might have to come to
that, but there is a committee of 10 people, many of whom will see this
blog entry and with luck many of them will read it, take the concerns on
board and rectify what they can and get things back on track before they
lose the heart of the developer community. I can only hope the steering
committee are in this for the right reason and not just so they can advertise
their corporate logos at the bottom on the OpenNTF website.