[Incubator] New Application: GeoToolkit

Frank Warmerdam warmerdam at pobox.com
Tue May 26 11:30:02 EDT 2009

Adrian Custer wrote:
> On Mon, 2009-05-25 at 10:49 -0400, Frank Warmerdam wrote:
>> 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.  
> As it works on other projects, there is very little scope for blocking
> conflict; indeed, in ten years of working on Gnumeric I have yet to see
> a single instance of such an issue. On technical issues, one always asks
> the maintainer of each module for permission to make changes there. For
> release issues, the person doing the work is generally trusted to make
> it happen as best they can. For social issues, we work things out like
> gentleman. I suppose, if it ever came down to it jody, and gmorten,
> possibly with aguelzow would be the ones forced to make a call but that
> need simply has not arisen and the level of mutual respect in that
> community ensures it probably never will. One of the ideas of Mercurial
> is to reduce further any scope for conflict: no one needs permission for
> access to the VCS and anyone can maintain copies of the code modified in
> their particular way so no one's progress is blocked by others. The idea
> of timed releases takes that issue off the table as well---a feature
> either is on this release train or can make the next one.


I am aware of lots of projects that work by community consensus.
I am also aware of some projects that work this way, but have
found themselves unable to move forward on issues because of an
inability to reach consensus, and a lack of ways to move forward.
In many cases things stay quite gentlemanly, but stagnate.  In
some ways libtiff and libjpeg have both fallen into variations of this

> If you are persuaded that authoritarian control by a central committee
> the only form of governance which can create inclusive, productive
> software projects 

I do not believe that having something like a PSC is necessary to
create an inclusive productive software project.

 > and you are willing to impose this on all incoming
> projects as a condition of their acceptance for incubation, you should
> vote against us re-joining OSGeo.

I do thing having something like a PSC that is capable of making and
enforcing decisions on behalf of the project is a necessary part of
the OSGeo project model.  I am willing to contemplate other models, but
would require substantial convincing.

 >  I am unable to know or control how
> Geotoolkit governance will invent itself over the next six months and
> would not be interested to constrain its evolution over the next several
> years. 

Indeed, this re-enforces my opinion that we should take some time
before attempting to start incubation.

 > One of my joys of collaborative enterprise is discovering how to
> structure that collaboration with people I admire for effective,
> productive work---as part of such efforts, I am discovering a better me.

I can appreciate this!

> When OSGeo started, I had the impression that it was forming as an
> association of free software projects, each accepted on its own terms
> with its own licensing and copyright assignment systems. Indeed, I
> remember that diversity made writing a re-usable copyright assignment
> document quite difficult. Now you seem to have decided there shall be
> one homogeneous form of governance for all projects---by that I am
> surprised. At least your decision on Geotoolkit will clarify, for future
> projects, if this is your official policy.

OSGeo has attempted to find a compromise between having a single rigid
model of how projects should work, and being strictly a collection of
projects with no attempt to establish core principles.   That compromise
is a work-in-progress, but we have tried to establish some core
concepts that we expect of all projects.  One of those is a clear
governance model.

>> 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. 
> How does an authoritarian central committee empower new comers more than
> an assembly of authoritarian maintainers would? 

It ensures that a diversity of voices are heard rather than just one.

> The latter does have the distinct advantage of ensuring that the
> authority actually is authoritative---the maintainer at least knows how
> the code of their modules really works.

Well, assuming the maintainer strictly reviews and learns the ins
and outs of all contributions this would be true.  It would not
necessarily be true if the package maintainer accepts new contributions
from other trusted sources with only minimal review.

>> I must confess that I'm not clear on the social implications of DVCS.
> Yes, I am discovering that none of you have yet struggled to understand
> the workflow, organizational, or social issues around this new
> technology. That is surprising since every large scale free software
> project of which I am aware is adopting one of these systems---I would
> have expected your natural curiosity to lead you to think about this new
> wave and its consequences.

I, for one, am interested in learning more.

>>   1) Does it really have a sufficient community to flourish for some
>>      time?
> Only time can tell us what time will bring, no?

Well, there could be signs now.  The question isn't absolute.  But I
do have the impression it would be easier to judge this in six months.

>>   2) Is it really going to be able to operate in a community based
>>      manner or is it essentially a geomatys fork?
> Both? It starts as a Geomatys/Lsis/... fork and will undoubtedly grow
> into a community run project. You should probably, as part of your work
> as a member of the incubation committee, peruse the Geotools mailing
> list archives. Go back a couple of years and read Martin's emails and
> judge for yourself whether you think his language is one of community
> building or one of a tyrant.

I hesitate to make such a judgement based just on my opinion of one
or two contributors though that would of course be a factor.

>>   3) Does it have technical strengths that make it appropriate for
>>      OSGeo to promote it?
> I am sorry Frank but I cannot find any way to read this question from
> you without it striking me as rude. First of all, it is your job to
> decide on the worth of applicant projects, that is, after all, why you
> are on this committee and this is exactly the work you are expected to
> do when evaluating new projects. You are expected to go look at the
> public face of the project, possibly peruse the online code
> documentation, perhaps download the bundle and run the command-line
> client and, thereby, to make up your mind. Secondly, what exactly I am
> supposed to answer here? Could I possibly answer that this project, on
> which I have spent several years already and plan to spend a significant
> amount of the next few years of my life, is fundamentally uninteresting?
> So please, either take the time to do your work or don't, but you really
> should not start out by asking me to do that work for you.

I'm sorry my question has come across as rude.  I will say, that the
members of the incubation community have limited time available to do
a deep review of projects.  So, if you are interested in bringing your
project forward it is helpful if you can summarize what you believe
to be the particular technical strengths of your project, as you do
effectively below...

> Martin put the geo in geotools2 when he merged his geo-referencing code
> into the project and over the past decade he has modernized and improved
> those module. Similarly, he has developed a highly sophisticated
> infrastructure for handling grid coverages, from multi-spectral remotely
> sensed imagery to outputs from general circulation models ('climate
> models'). Johann has resurrected the old renderer design of Martin's and
> now has a most advanced renderer capable of handling sophisticated
> styles based on the OGC symbology encoding specification and beyond.
> Axel and his lab at the LSIS are adapting their 3D algorithms for ISO
> geometry. Geotoolkit powers an SOS, a transactional CSW, a WMS and a
> WCS. Geotoolkit also provides the library for some mapping JSF clients
> we are building. Yes, the library may perhaps have a few 'technical
> strenghts'. Frankly, I am confused that you are asking.

I was aware that the georeferencing package (to me, I understand this
primarily as coordinate system transformations) is top notch.  Some of
the other capabilities I was not too aware of.

>>   4) Is it going to be able to work within a governance model that is
>>      going fit with OSGeo's concept of prudent management?
> I have addressed this above.
> The issue before you comes down to one of trust. No form of governance
> will save a project from leaders who want to act as tyrants; indeed, my
> experience suggests that attitude is much more important than structure.
> So either you figure our who we are, how we work, and what we are doing,
> and on that basis decide you trust us and that you want to bring us back
> into OSGeo or you decide you don't have that trust and reject us.
> Whatever you decide is great. We have set out on a road that has taken
> us over ten years already and may take another ten to finish. We were, a
> short six months ago, working amongst you so we thought we would
> continue to work that way. If that strikes you as morally problematic,
> then let us know that and we will play elsewhere.
> Now I have now written entirely too much on this subject and hope to be
> able to sign off. If you have directed questions which I can be expected
> to answer succinctly, I will be glad to answer them; otherwise, I hope I
> can stick to writing the GeoAPI 3.0 Specification for the upcoming OGC
> meeting.

I have tried to address some points that seemed directly like questions.
I think you have communicated your points effectively and I'm not
particularly asking you to respond or say more though if you are interested
in the possibility of incubation I'd appreciate your staying on the list
and monitoring the discussions.

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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