[GRASS5] Proprietory Frontend for Mac OS X (was: Grass Projection Parameters)

Jan-Oliver Wagner jan at intevation.de
Sun Feb 24 09:23:46 EST 2002

Dear all,

I am deeply convinced that Jeshuas plan of
a proprietary GUI frontend in the long run will bring
much more harm than help to the GRASS development.

We all have seen the fruitful development boost 
after GPLing the code and with that protecting the freedom.
Proprietary addons are naturally are beyond
the control of the developer team.

Consider this scenario: Jeshua markets his GUI frontend
successfully and sponsors development of GRASS.
At some point the developers think it is a good
idea to change the infrastructure in a way that would
make it incompatible with the proprietary GUI frontend.
With the financial dependency, would the developers
be entirely free in technological decision making?
With a free GUI frontend they could decide on their
own e.g. whether to adapt the frontend or whether to
adapt the backend.

Another Scenario: Another desktop GUI occurs on the market
that is similar to the MacOS X. The developers would
like to support it, but not so Jeshua. In this case the developers
have to entirely reimplement the stable, nice, well fine-tuned GUI
for their product.

Another Scenario: A company would like to sell GRASS installation
at big companies or authorities. The company is paid for service only
of course and contributes a percentage to the GRASS development
team. Now the client want to have the nice GUI of Jeshua. Sure,
the conpany (or Jeshua himself) can sell it to the client but with
all the drawbacks of proprietary software, e.g. what if Jeshua dies
in a car accident, he looses interest, or is bought by a large company
(e.g. to discontinue competitive products) due to a unresistable offer?
The service company can't perform changes
to the GUI as wished by the client any more (it was by then already a pain
always asking and arguing with Jeshua  - forced to accept any requested
price and conditions)!

Another scenario: After some time we have a number of proprietary 
frontends for different desktops. If they have contradictive demands
for the backend, which one to follow (first)? For the one who
pays more or for the better technical solution?

These scenarios are just sketched, there can be many different flavours
in them.

All in all, the development would loose the freedom for a number of decisions.
The degree of substracted freedom might be low, but personally I don't
want to give up any.

Of course, this does not mean that I want to forbid the development
of a proprietary frontend (I can't - Jeshua has all freedom to do so).
I just want to make all aware on disadvantages I see opposing the
(financial) advantages Jeshua promised.

Jeshua, I hope you make a hell lot of money with a GUI frontend,
but please with a Free Software one. It makes sense and will work!
According to your initial statement, Mac users will buy the nice
colored box from the shelf where you have placed Free Software and
printed manuals rather then downloading the stuff and printing the manuals
on their own. 

Jan-Oliver Wagner               http://intevation.de/~jan/

Intevation GmbH	              	     http://intevation.de/
FreeGIS	                               http://freegis.org/

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