[Incubator] New Application: GeoToolkit

Christopher Schmidt crschmidt at metacarta.com
Tue May 26 14:26:35 EDT 2009

On Tue, May 26, 2009 at 07:47:13PM +0200, Martin Desruisseaux wrote:
> However this raise an other concern that OSGeo may need to adress. Given 
> that it is so easy to clone a DVCS, put a few (trivial or not) changes in 
> it and release that, how a compagny (like Geomatys) which put a huge amount 
> of energy in the development of that toolkit can be credited for their 
> work? 

I'm not sure how this is OSGeo's job to address? So long as the
licensing terms are met, this is very much the point of Open Source.
See: Linksys routers (sub-par example due to GPL issues, but ignoring
those for the point of the discussion), Red Hat (which is thought of in
many circles to mean "Linux", with no possible alternatives), etc. These
companies do relatively little unique development -- compared to the
open source work they build on -- but combine marketing and packaging to
sell a better product. 

It is not in the interest of any foundation to prevent that kind of
thing from happening -- the Apache Foundation hasn't gone to Red Hat and
insisted that it call its web-server products "Red Hat and Apache Linux
Web Server".

Perhaps "OSGeo may need to address" means something other than I think
it does here.

I'll also note that this concern isn't unique to DVCS. OpenLayers has
been forked by the Ordnance Survey, with no effort (That I'm aware of)
to merge. The product (Open Space) is released with relatively little
mention of the fact that OpenLayers is included outside of forums and so
on, and is maintained by a completely seperate group of people. Though
Im not aware of the Ordnance Survey charging for this service, this type
of thing would be exactly what I would expect based on the license that
OpenLayers has chosen -- so long as the copyright holder is acknowledged
in the code or docs, there's no need to be more up front about it. 

> The thing that can scare Geomatys to the point of staying out of 
> OSGeo would be that someone else takes Geotoolkit code and push their 
> modified flavor of it as if they were the main author (they don't need to 
> said that explicitly - I have meet last automn developers of the gvSig 
> project who were convinced that the GeoTools referencing module has been 
> wrote by an other compagny), getting contract at the expense of Geomatys.

Again, how does OSGeo play or not play a role here? That can happen
without a project being an OSGeo project, and the choice of tools and
governance model seems to encourage it to some extent. With dictatorial
style source code control and community governance, you are seeking to
excercise strict control over the codebase. This is reasonable, but is
likely to encourage companies who wish to invest to seek other avenues
for their investment -- whether that's forking or not.  

I don't have a desire to participate in topics of governance strongly
here, but I want to understand why you think that this particular
problem is 'worse' within OSGeo than it would be in any other way. In my
opinion, having a PSC for OpenLayers has prevented possible forking
eneterprises because participants have a multilateral body to appeal to,
rather than a dictatorship run by MetaCarta or its employees.

If you're really worried about someone forking your code and being more
successful with it than you are, then it might be that you're doing
something wrong -- but I don't see how being an OSGeo project would
affect it in either direction. 

Best Regards,
Christopher Schmidt

More information about the Incubator mailing list