[Incubator] New Application: GeoToolkit

Frank Warmerdam warmerdam at pobox.com
Mon May 25 10:49:26 EDT 2009

Adrian Custer wrote:
> My vision, then, of the governance model for Geotoolkit differs deeply from
> the way GeoTools ended up working by 2008. I most hope to avoid anyone 
> having
> to follow the fiat of some sub-committee of the project be they the
> self-appointed leaders or anyone else. However, this vision is merely my 
> own,
> one that I will not impose on anyone but one that I will have to argue
> passionately for when we take on these issues.


I understand a consensus based approach to decision making as a goal.
What isn't clear to me is how Geotoolkit intends to address failure to
reach consensus.  It is fundamental to me that OSGeo projects have a
formal mechanism to address failure to reach consensus on technical and
non-technical matters.  If Geotoolkit fundamentally disagrees with having
such a mechanism then I'm not sure it makes sense to try and fit it into
the OSGeo mold.

I understand there has also been a concept at times of GeoTools package
maintainers being sovereign in their own package.  Sort of a local dictator.
I am also concerned that this is contrary to the goals of OSGeo where
new folks can join the project and have a reasonable degree of comfort
that their voice will be heard.  I'm not sure if it was intended to utilize
this approach in Geotoolkit or not, but if so it would be a matter of
concern for me.

> I believe, on the basis of intuition alone, that the systems of distributed
> version control (DVCS) have fundamentally altered the world of software
> development and provide an enourmous democratizing potential for project
> governance. This is not just that being able to make micro commits to one's
> hard drive helps programmers work. It comes from placing everyone in the
> project on an absolutely equal footing and with the same burdens of
> responsibility to make ongoing collaboration possible. It also returns 
> to the
> fore the technical meritocracy that makes for the strongest projects since
> everyone needs to decide, freely and on their own volition, whose 
> changes they
> wish to integrate. No one yet know how this will play out. I am aware 
> that it
> may make reaching compromise more work but am also certain that it will 
> both
> make the need to agree on everything unnecessary and free parallel lines of
> development. Indeed, if GeoTools ever decides to rely on Martin's improved
> referencing code in Geotoolkit, they will be able to do so y maintaining 
> their
> own clone integrating any changes they wish to make locally and evolving 
> the
> code at the pace that they wish to follow---a great advantage for everyone.

I must confess that I'm not clear on the social implications of DVCS.
It does still seem important that an OSGeo project produce vetted
releases that are considered to be the product of the project as
a whole.  I'm not clear how that fits with a DVCS free-for-all.  But
I may be reading too much into this.

Overall my concerns with Geotoolkit are:

  1) Does it really have a sufficient community to flourish for some

  2) Is it really going to be able to operate in a community based
     manner or is it essentially a geomatys fork?

  3) Does it have technical strengths that make it appropriate for
     OSGeo to promote it?

  4) Is it going to be able to work within a governance model that is
     going fit with OSGeo's concept of prudent management?

My initial pre-disposition is to give things a bit of time to shake out
before seeking to bring the project into incubation.  This would give
time for us to see if Geotoolkit is attracting broad interest, and to
give the project some time to find it's governance/community operation
legs.  At that point it might be more clear if the fit is good.

Best regards,
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, warmerdam at pobox.com
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush    | Geospatial Programmer for Rent

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