[GRASS5] Some news: KerGIS

Paul Kelly paul-grass at stjohnspoint.co.uk
Mon Jan 26 11:52:45 EST 2004

Hello Thierry

On Sun, 25 Jan 2004, Thierry Laronde wrote:

> On Sat, Jan 24, 2004 at 06:00:06PM +0100, Bernhard Reiter wrote:
> >
> > You are taking an interesting more radical approach.
> > I'll maintain the notion that was not possible in 1999,
> > but the time might be right for it now.
> >
> Thanks. And for the curiosity about how KerGIS will work out, and what
> it will be, the short answer again is: it will be what people will
> make it.
> But this will not be made randomly: a consistent error is
> almost a truth, since if you have consistently made the very same error,
> a simple translation can make the whole becomes the truth. So, for
> people who are wondering, KerGIS will be on the cathedral side, and not
> on the bazaar one...

I was interested when you mentioned the cathedral and the bazaar, and it
prompted me to read a little bit (a few pages) of this paper:
While reading it and thinking how the bazaar approach resulted in quality
software in the case of Linux I thought about the similarities between
GRASS and Linux, which Bernhard has mentioned a few times, and why the
bazaar approach has not worked for GRASS and therefore you are trying the
cathedral approach.

It seems to me that the bazaar approach only works when you have good
quality control, and for a few years after the CERL support of GRASS ended
there was inadequate quality control or central authority and bugs got in.
And it is very hard to track them apart from some comments in the source
files, since this is before the introduction of the CVS server in 1999. Of
course many more bugs have been introduced since 1999 but they have been
much easier to track and revert with CVS in use.

But to counteract the bugs that were introduced when GRASS was 'drifting'
for a few years it would indeed seem that the only logical approach is to
start with the last CERL release, i.e. what you are doing. But once you
get it organised and tidied up and make a release, then providing you are
still interested in looking after it and providing quality control over
the improvements, the bazaar approach might once again become appropriate.

So I hope it works out well and I wish you the best of luck.

Incidentally, talking about when GRASS was drifting with no clear
technical leadership reminds me of a counter to one of Bernhard's pro-GPL
arguments for GRASS: that without the GPL, people would take all of GRASS
and make it into a proprietary product and not give anything back to the
GRASS community. I take it the example of this is Blackland GRASS; is this
correct? I would argue that because there was no clear technical
leadership or strong Open Source Free software GIS lobby at the time, that
it was not even an obvious course of action for people creating a
proprietary GRASS to give back some of their developments. (Of course I
do not know what was really going on then as I was not involved; I can
just get an idea by reading the old mailing list archives.)

I argue that with the more organised state that GRASS is in now, the pressure
on such a proprietary developer to give back developments to the GRASS
community would be much higher than it was when Blacklands GRASS was
developed. Partially I base this idea on discussions I have seen on the
GDAL list (GDAL has the BSD-style licence) where developers of proprietary
software are using GDAL and feel grateful for it and are putting pressure
on their bosses to release part of their product as Open Source.

Just thought I'd mention this as I haven't seen it discussed before. BTW
I'm not sure what the best licence for GRASS is and don't have a strong
opinion as long as it is some kind of open source that researchers can
play around with.


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