[GRASS5] Some news: KerGIS

Thierry Laronde tlaronde at polynum.com
Mon Jan 26 12:50:23 EST 2004

On Mon, Jan 26, 2004 at 04:11:44PM +0100, Bernhard Reiter wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 26, 2004 at 02:16:00PM +0100, Thierry Laronde wrote:
> > BTW, I will say it once and never repeat it after: I will certainly put
> > things and say things rather roughly when I analyze and criticize the
> > way things have happened. It is in no way a criticism on the individuals
> > it is just the constatation that with any project, despite the quality
> > of the persons, if the contributions are not planned and coordonnated,
> > the time spent is lost.
> Honest criticising will be no problem.
> But you have to be careful of tying this to the process 
> (and thus decisions of persons).

To explain more:

1) If GPL GRASS had not existed, resurrected by Markus Neteler almost
alone some years ago, Public Domain GRASS would have been lost, and I,
as others, would never have the opportunity to derive something from it;

2) If I have not seen something working by working with GPL GRASS, I
will have not attempted what I'm doing.

=> So the work done is not lost on this basis but must be capitalized to
learn how to make things work better.

The "errors" made on the process are the errors that, to some extents,
_we_ ---in the libre software world--- all have  made: to believe that
opening the sources will attract more developers and that people using
them will spontaneously try to contribute.

=> That's wrong. The english term "free" has the desastrous meaning
"gratis" when working on libre software have never been gratis for the
Now a libre software must work on the assumption that it will be not
given "gratis": the user that don't contribute code will contribute time
spent _for his own sake_ to learn how to use the software, and the only
users will have dedicated lists where they will be able to exchange and
help themselves [a reasonnably clear documentation shall be provided for
the beginners; it is in no way a design goal to have ununderstandable
documentation just to throw users away]. If they don't want to help 
themselves and to work a little for their own sake, they can:

	-stop using the software: it is in no way an obligation...
	-pay someone for doing what they do not want to do: laziness is a
	sin and the punition has to come...

Libre software is a school of energy, will and skills. Before libre
software, even if you had the will and the skills, if you do not have
the money you were blocked. Now, if you have the skills and the will
everything is at your reach. And if you have the will, you can gain 
the skills by learning, and participating to such a huge project as 
KerGIS/GRASS is highly beneficial [I have learned a lot simply by 
fixing the code].

The second error is trying to be "kind" with contributions, that is to
think that accepting badly thought pieces of code will allow to keep
wanabees contributors and that being too direct will disgust people at
first attempt. 

That's wrong. For the sake of everybody, the goal must be an improvement
of the quality of the code. A non optimal contribution is a lost, and a
non contribution is a status quo. In this case non contribution is
better since it is a gain compared to the loss.

The management has nothing to do with insults, sarcasms and so on (being
noted that it is sometimes difficult for non english native speakers to
translate accurately what they thought in the pseudo-english that we
use). I have heard remarks on my code sometimes, and I was not angry
against the one who criticized (if he were right) but against myself: I
was upset because of my "amour-propre". This has simply led me to show
that I could do better than that...

So, we have made errors. That's not unforgivable if we do not continue.
If we continue these will be faults.

> > In no way I will proclam that I'm omniscient and "error free". No: I 
> > make errors and will continue till the end. I'm simply trying to learn,
> > that is to make new ones.
> I'd be interested in how you judge the potential of the other 
> Free Software GIS approaches. 

By intuition and by experiment, I do not believe this is the correct
way. At least, this is a way I do not want to follow.

There are enough people who already make the very same things. Let the
evolving GRASS still be what it is: a topological GIS. Do not make the
same errors as other, make our own ;)

Thierry Laronde (Alceste) <tlaronde at polynum.org>
Key fingerprint = 0FF7 E906 FBAF FE95 FD89  250D 52B1 AE95 6006 F40C

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