[Mapserver-dev] Rewrites Considered Harmful

Frank Warmerdam warmerdam at pobox.com
Thu Jan 15 16:52:33 EST 2004


I'm sure lots of you keep an eye on Slashdot and have seen this, or have
read discussions of the idea from other sources, but I thought it might be
worth forwarding anyways.  The artile is "Rewrites Considered Harmful?".
The basic thesis is that we should carefully consider before embarking on
wholesale rewrites of software products.  "Next Generation" software
rewrites often cause far more pain then the gain they supposedly bring.


I have personally seen this in a number of instances, including some
rewrites I was responsible for myself.

I bring this up here, because there is occationally suggestions made that
MapServer needs a complete rewrite.  There might well be some substantial
benefits to such a thing.  Lord knows parts of mapserver are pretty frightening.
But at the end of the day, I imagine we would find a rewrite would introduce
huge compatibility, bug and performance issues.  Furthermore, with an open
source project like mapserver, there is a very real danger we would just run
out of steam to complete the overhaul before it was really completed properly.

On a smaller scale, I also take the point that changes between versions that
break compatibililty have a higher cost than some might imagine.  Certainly
I think that is true of mapserver, and backward incompatible changes to the
mapfile, or the various mapscript incarnations.  I was pleased to see that
proposals for the new "time indexes" did seem to try and account for a
backward compatibility mechanism.

Anyways, food for thought.

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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