Forum OpenACS Q&A: Any comment from the community?

Posted by Kenneth Wyrick on
Well, I just read what you wrote and I know that the dotlrn package is dominating most of the openacs development. That's good for me since e-learning is my field of interest.

I've also had to weather much of the LAMP criticism I hosted the in my office for over 2 years and finally kinda gave up because it was turning out to be a widget fest where most of the people didn't have a interest in enterprise level development.

I will remember what you have suggested and check it out in the various circles that I run in. I'm very curious to know what's doing with naviserver since I worked with them before AOL purchased the browser and as far as I can tell, did nothing with the publishing parts which were quite useful to me. I would like to see oacs do a good job of pre-press since the market is wide open with quark, InDesign and Scribus being the consumer apps that most people use.

I did see where the was some talk about using the TEX engine, which would work very well for me since I have a good friend who is a tex expert but It seems to have died some few years ago.

3: LaTeX? (response to 2)
Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
Kenneth, what died exactly, you mean the June 2004 and March 2006 experiment with and talk about adding LaTex support to OpenACS? (Because I suspect that TeX itself, and its derivatives, will outlive most of us...) How would you want to use such LaTex support, if it existed in OpenACS?

Some of the discussion from the periodic rehashing on documentation formats, e.g. from Oct. 2005, might also be somewhat relevant, as they tend to also bring up LaTex and related or competing tools.

Posted by Robert Taylor on
Your article is stupid.

It's stupid because it lists symptoms and doesn't address the core issue. This makes it also a bit dissapointing because you have been around since the beginning and are still adressing the wrong points.

THE CORE ISSUE IS DEFINE AS FOLLOWS: the key developers are billed out at 100%.

Thats it. No more no less. Core devs are busy paying the bills and working on complicated OPENACS based projects, and can only spare a few hours here beyond that. If you waste a single sentence beyond this, you are simply listing symptoms of that core issue. This is nothing unique to openacs, all projects suffer from this, just look at Vista and the royal disaster that has turned out to be from a company that CAN afford full time devs. I can pick appart any of your PHP based examples in a nanosecond if you like based on the same grounds we are critiquing oacs.

Yes I am giving you a bit of a hard time, mostly because your article does nothing to help the situation.


Please allow me to take the opportunity to engage you and see if we can work together on some of these issues. Here is my plan for contributing to the project and I am slowly achieving it:

1. I started out on the Documentation project with Torben, however it turned out that the doc project is so big that two people aren't enough firstly, and secondly we need a project manager tool to co-ordinate the effort.

2. Therefore that project is still ongoing but stalled for the moment as I have doubled back to do the following:

a) I have hired a programmer to help me propose a redesign of the website using off the shelf oacs components. We have it done, I just need to finish up some graphics and we would like to present it to OCT for evaluation and critique. Then after a few rounds of making sure everyone is happy we hope to publish an updated website. In other words, instead of publicly listing ONLY NEGATIVES (all projects have a balance sheet of positives and negatives ... listing only negatives is a VERY VERY BIG NO NO from a marketing standpoint ... congratulations you just did it to your own favourite project), I put my wallet where my mouth is and hired someone to help. *HINT* *HINT*

b) the goal of the redesign is twofold: slightly updated look and also we want to show what a user can get out of the box with oacs WITHOUT any programming.

c) a tertiary goal of the website update is to allow us a place to mount calendar visibly so we can schedule group events.

d) another goal of the website is to allow us to mount project manager on the website visibly for those projects and users that want it. It should allow us to manage large projects more effectively. Primarily pm is meant to let me and torben co-ordinate the documenation project BECAUSE it requires a lot of people working on small chunks of data at a time. Two guys is not enough, we need 20 to 40 people picking up a couple of pages a piece and working on them and only pm can allow us to track that, any other approach is a disaster. However, pm can be used by other projects, some of which you have listed.

e) once we have shown what you can get from oacs with a default install we will try to convince OCT to invest time and resources to make sure with the install of one metapackage we can get nice published website out of the door for a user. This will be our first ease of use project to be done.

f) once we have that done I intend to, with the permission of OCT, to engage EVERYONE ... and i mean EVERYONE on the openacs registered list. I don't care if most of them are spam bots and addys that don't exist. I would like to engage whoever is awake in the community or still keeps an eye out there to help out with documentation. The documenation project needs 20 to 40 people to work on updates and re-organization under the leadership of one project manager (currently thats torben, but i'm co-ordinating with him).

g) the next goal ease of install. There are three projects right now under way for this:

FIRST: source install ... i have one master bash script that uses Maltes install scripts to download EVERYTHIGN from source and install it with one command. Malte has requested i forward that to him, he will package everything up into one giant tar that includes all the sources as a reference and that way we can even offer installs either from cvs or publish specific source reference releases.

SECOND: Debian packaging. There are several projects under way to package oacs and oacs apps for debian. This needs to be followed up on, however worst case scenario, we can always modify my and Maltes scripts to just spit out debs.

THIRD: I have a reference debian base vmware image sitting right here. I use it to test oacs source installs and use it to run my own oacs installs. Now because I am a novice I am not comforteable releaseing a preinstalled oacs debian vmware image but i can do it in about the time it takes to upload it to oacs. I would say this should come last after the scripts and debian packages tho.

h) once we have those pieces in place THEN and ONLY THEN we go out and start making some noise in the greater community. Until we can provide support services to the greater developer community (by this i mean for $$'s ... i know this is available its just not presented properly on the website) and meet some obligations on a time and delivery basis doing a rah rah sort of deal will only bite us in the ass BEACUSE ... well because your article is really WHY it will bite us in the ass. Developers tend to look at a project superficially and from their own 'I need it now' perspective - the bias tends to be that because there is a precieved notion that its hard to get into therefore it is. The exact opposite is true however we haveto polish off the speed bumps a bit first for easier entry.

So, thats what I'M doing to help.

How can we collaborate to continue pushing OPENACS forward? And yes I too am 100% billed out and have no time to spare ... heh! But your help would greatly be appreciated on ANY of the above.

Feel free to contact me via IRC on #freenode (nick: holycow), or via email.

- Rob

Posted by Jon Griffin on
I shouldn't respond but flaming me is a personal thing.

I am glad you think that OACS is the project of the century. If you check other things I have written, you will find other articles besides this about OACS.

You are right I have been around since the beginning, I have put my money where my mouth is. I have donated a crap load of things whether they were accepted or not.

To be honest with you I don't really give a crap about OACS anymore, it is basically dotlrn at this point. That is fine, just don't pretend it is something else.

xowiki is a great addition to the core and is still being fought by several members of the community who think that OACS is their project. What about this great new templating scheme that broke sites on 5.3 upgrades with no warning?> Oh wait it only works on dotlrn.

The bottom line is OACS is irrelevant in the real world. Barring a few universities, it is a non-issue. I tried to get dotlrn into UNLV, too buggy and too complicated.

The rest of the community is free to flame me, certain members will anyway, but it still won't change the situation.

I wrote that article to hopefully point out some LONG standing issues and directions. If you took it as something else, oh well, your problem.

Posted by Malte Sussdorff on
Let's just say Jon is right what needs to be done and I think it is good to have it written down. Will we have the time to do it? Well, I start to use XoTCL already quite a lot. I offered to write the code that lets you edit the templates and css files, yet was stopped by Don who wants to clean up the current issues with templating and CSS before going down that road.

Moving to naviserver is an option, but at the moment, who has the time to test it? Gustaf did this at some time so he would probably be able to give a good introduction what he found out.

As for moving stuff out of OpenACS, feel free to do it. I guess we have enough on our hands to get stuff into OpenACS to think about abstracting stuff and get it out :-).

No need to start a flame war. OpenACS is a niche product which allows us especially with the latest version of xotcl-core, to really go wild and quickly develop applications. But it is a niche product and if it werent for ]po[, aims, xo* we could just call it .LRN. And I would strongly ask the .LRN crew to think outside the box and make sure (before releasing) that things still work outside .LRN.

We did a mistake with the 5.3.1 release especially with regards to the large amount of changes that needed to be done there. Hopefully a lesson has been learned and we can clean up the situation by the 5.4 release.

Posted by Don Baccus on
Oh, Jon, you fucking ignorant piece of shit...
xowiki is a great addition to the core and is still being fought by several members of the community who think that OACS is their project.
Gustaf has long said he has no interest in supporting Oracle.

And his shit is BSD, rather than GPL.

Now, recently, Gustaf has been encouraged to support Oracle

(Jon: read ... MONEY)

So we may adopt it. Though the BSD issue is important.

If you care enough to trash us in public, why don't you drop into the openacs channel in IRC to trash us in a private scenario which is logged for the public?

What about this great new templating scheme that broke sites on 5.3 upgrades with no warning?> Oh wait it only works on dotlrn.

There was warning.

You are just too fucking stupid to realize thae if you want to be part of the community, you must be part of it.


.LRN leadership meeting, Tuesday, same hour.

Come bitch and tell us YOUR vision of where the toolkit should go, and tell us how much time you have to do it, or how much money you have to see various things implemented.

To come bitch afterwards, after IGNORING PLEAS TO TEST PRE-RElEASE VERIONS, well ...

You are acting like a parasite, not a contributor.

What are you, as parasite, contributing that contributors ($$$) should value?

You haven't contributed to the project in YEARS. You're saying ... "y'all are interfering with my ability to be a parasite!"


Posted by Jon Griffin on
Kiss my fucking ass too you arrogant piece of shit.

I realize you are the greatest fucking developer in the world. Even wrote some compilers.

I wasn't going to point out in public that you are the reason for many defections in the OACS community. Your fucked up, my way or the fucking highway attitude.

BTW, I have offered my input,more than once, it was roundly ignored. Like many others who left the community.

I offered money to redo ecommerce. No takers. So don't talk shit. The emphasis is on dotLRN, if that is where your future is have fun.

Yes I know, Gustaf has nowhere near the great programming skills of the great Don Baccus, and his "shit" is the only killer app OACS ever had, too bad.

Don't bother to reply, as I said, I am done with OACS. Have fun being the tyrant in your tiny world.

Posted by Don Baccus on
Well, I start to use XoTCL already quite a lot. I offered to write the code that lets you edit the templates and css files, yet was stopped by Don who wants to clean up the current issues with templating and CSS before going down that road.
You can't be "stopped by Don" because "Don" doesn't control the project.

We are both members of the OCT.

What you meant to say, but for some reason forgot to say, though I can't understand why (since you know the process, and how it works) ...

"My peers (one of whom is Don) did not adopt my changes"

Malte, I like you. We've drunk beer together. We've talked together about the project many times.

Don't misrepresent reality this way.

Of course, you may complain (rightly) that some core members think that my opinion carries more weight than yours, but that's very different than what you represent with your statement above.

Don't make me an enemy, Malte. That would be stupid.

Posted by Malte Sussdorff on
Don, I get around you and I have no problems with you as a human being, as I learned to relax a lot in the last couple of years and don't take things too seriously. But I have to agree with Jon's comment that you are a prime contributor to defections from OpenACS. Does it matter, I don't know. Does it matter to me, absolutely not. I can leave any time I want and nothing bad will happen to the community.

Now to the topic at hand: You are the prime guardian against whatever I come up with. You stop me before I TIP certain processes. You are the one who threatens to veto things, so please bear with me for saying that you stopped that process. And yes, your opinion carries more weight, but does it really matter to me?

I mean, why are you guys (and this includes some others like Tom Jackson and Frank Bergmann, to name the most serious culprits in my opinion) always trying to make a power game out of it. We are all in this because of a believe that the niche product OpenACS stands a chance to earn us money. The more energy is focused on bitching between core team members the weaker the toolkit will get.

Unless you haven't noticed, we should not be so arrogant to assume that we can loose people just because we do not like them. The code contribution is crucial and the number of people that really understand what is going on in OpenACS is decreasing steadily. And you have a tendency to pick "fights" and threaten to make someone your "enemy" with those people that actually do a lot to keep OpenACS afloat. I am just going to point out three of us that are still contributing.
- Frank, who is very successful and the prime contributor to OpenACS installations around the world (which we could easily verify i we only had some way of tracking that. But I could take the code from ]po[ for that, if there is interest).
- Gustaf, who has written some of the coolest applications in OpenACS and is a very valuable source in making at least my live much easier (to give a recent example: ]po[ did not have the function_args defined, which prevented xotcl from generating the class functions. Within four hours since my e-mail he wrote a script that took the PG catalog and created the SQL statements so I could us XoTCL xo::db::sql::im_project new instead of the PL/SQL. And that was on a Sunday.).
- Myself. Though you might argue about my value to the community, but I let people decide on that. What I can say though is that I am probably the only one who is working and has seen the code from the all the major OpenACS applications and products and worked with most of the OpenACS companies out there. So I get a pretty good overview where they are at, how they are struggling and why the contribution to OpenACS is, well, limited.

Therefore, could you please check your attitude before posting to the forums as the style is really offensive and when outsiders look at the founder of the project posting like you do they won't see OpenACS in the good light that it deserves. And sorry for being sometimes a little bit frustrated with you personally but you are the guardian against most of my ideas and I don't think it makes sense for me to put everything into a TIP. I love to have beer with and talk about the future of the project. And I don't mind having a strong and opposing opinion on some points. But I don't want to spend the energy on fighting and as it really isn't that important to me anymore I will just have it your way.

A guy once said why his marriage broke: "I was too tired for apologizing". And, to be honest, I am at that point, so I should probably stop caring that much where the community is going as a whole and just help with my knowledge those companies which use OpenACS to make an impact.

So, do I want you to be my enemy: No.
Does it matter if you decide to be it: Not really.

Posted by Jonathan Ellis on
[The core issue is]: the key developers are billed out at 100%.

Lots of other projects have this "problem." Odd how the successful ones turn this into an opportunity to improve the core product.

Oh, Jon, you fucking ignorant piece of shit

Speaking of core issues... :)

Posted by Gustaf Neumann on
This thread has left all technical grounds, but i will add a small comment against my own principles in order to reduce false information and rumors. Don said:
Gustaf has long said he has no interest in supporting Oracle.

And his shit is BSD, rather than GPL.

Now, recently, Gustaf has been encouraged to support Oracle

(Jon: read ... MONEY)

What i have said for a long time was that i did not have an installation to work on Oracle and that i am not happy about developments that increase the maintenaince costs of xotcl-core and xowiki on my side.

The platform situation has changed by the nice people from UNED who gave me access to their Oracle installation. On my side, I have developed an easy-to-maintain SQL layer. I did not receive *any* money for any of this work, i did this out of personal interest. Actually, nobody even encouraged me to provide oracle support (there was actually more discouragement). I have learned something during developing this layer, and i think the results are quite good.

Don, please don't talk about things that you don't know. And thanks for the clear words what you think about my contributions.

Posted by Gustaf Neumann on
Forgot another one:
Oh, Jon, you fucking ignorant piece of shit...
No, he is not. Not everybody has to be a programmer to contribute to a project. I do not agree with all points on on Jon's summary of deficiancies, but there is certain truth in his posting providing hooks for improvements. Who else does this? I know Jon as an interested and factual person from real-live and find these kind of contributions important.

About Jon's statement that OpenACS is "basically dotlrn". No wonder that he gets the impression when an "openacs release" is just the kernel and the first time, improved packages come out is essentially the dotrln release (i remember a statement of Ben Koot in the same regards). This is not your fault, Don, but we have currently nobody but the dotlrn team to care and maintain the most important openacs packages used in plain oacs installations (except the stuff starting with xo*).

Jon, it is in the interest of the dotrln consortium to get rid of the dotrln-specific modules and make dotlrn an ordinary openacs package. This is not an easy task and it will still take some time until we can show results in this regard. But there is will, which is a good start...

Posted by Tom Jackson on
I mean, why are you guys (and this includes some others like Tom Jackson and Frank Bergmann, to name the most serious culprits in my opinion) always trying to make a power game out of it. We are all in this because of a believe that the niche product OpenACS stands a chance to earn us money. The more energy is focused on bitching between core team members the weaker the toolkit will get.

Wow! How exactly do I make a power game out of anything? The only power here is committed code. If by a power game, you mean that I complain loudly when you and others force everyone else to follow your mostly ill-conceived code, okay. At some point everyone just gives up and says okay, just do it. Everytime I install a new OpenACS system, my original packages need to be modified, even though they only use the most basic conventions in OpenACS.

This is a great way to drive folks away, because if they ever decide to upgrade, they discover the pain involved and that gives them the opportunity to try something else.

But I guess simply informed comment from me, a user of OpenACS, is a power game. Why should users be able to comment? Should only developers who contribute code have a say? What if the developers are morons? Contributing moron code doesn't earn any points from the user perspective. Contributions which force users to do unnecessary work doesn't earn any points either.

If I was into a power game, I would be trying to commit all my code instead of talking about it as an example. But I agree with the community standards: pick one way of doing things and go with that. Remember that standard? Well it went out the window a long time ago, and Don has probably given up reminding everyone about it. Don actually has to be nice from time to time and work with people with different agendas. Usually I don't.

If I step over the line, someone lets me know, usually in terms like those above. Hey, usually they are right.

My working theory is that OpenACS core has issues, but it was put together pretty well. It works. Any change has the potential to make it not work. Developers who try to minimize this fact are dangerous. Developers who fail to consider the impact of their changes on current users are dangerous. Developers who think developers are more important than users are dangerous.

Power means you can force someone to do something they would rather not do. One way to do that here is to commit code which forces others to do work. Another way is to be able to prevent such changes. But, you can always make changes to your own copy, so this type of power doesn't prevent anyone from doing what they want.

Posted by Robert Taylor on
jon or to anyone in the community ... appologies for my flame.

i was feeling a little bit feisty and probably should have edited it.

alas forums doesn't have an 'edit' button yet :)

i have a mockup ready to show and invite anyone to comment. the website is part of the bigger picture i listed up there in my response and will have it viewable shortly.

Posted by Robert Taylor on
as a side note:

- i think flames are actually healthy :)

- they don't always result in a positive ending however it really does clear the throat and lets people come out from underneath the comfort blanket of 'lets all get along'.

- in Dons defense it think at least a FEW of you REALLY misunderstand him ... well just Jon really. If anyone in the community has left because of Don, thats a bit of a giggle actually :)

Jon, I appreciate your comments and your input. It was poorly framed, poorly thought out, and you didn't even take the courtesy to drop by OCT and speak your mind IN WHICH case I would of said hi and introduced my self.

However, as was noted, the list is valid, its known, it's being adressed.

While it might be a waste of your time please check out my redesign and forward your thoughts. Posting on the general forum shortly.

Gustaf, big kudos to you on the xotcl front, that is one fantastic piece of work!

Posted by Malte Sussdorff on
Just wanting to let you know that developer support on 5.4 has a new "uber" feature which is CSS editing. You see your current webpage, click on CSS and get all the currently used CSS files (yeah, webdeveloper can do that for you as well) on a new webpage. What webdeveloper cannot do for you is edit the file and *save it to disk*. Neither is it able to provide revisions for those CSS files that you edited or allow you to go back to a previous revision based on the description developer support stores in the content repository.

People might argue why this is not in package <insert package here>, especially as you might not want to give CSS designers developer support access, on the other hand this was the most convenient place to put it and whoever wants can take the code and stuff it somewhere else.

This has been a joint effort during the ]po[ developers conference between UNED and myself, so kudos for their hard work. Additionally this requires that you have working template::head::add_css commands and that none of your CSS files is loaded manually. Last but not least, make sure that you can access the CSS file from /resources/<insert package here>/....., as I need to somehow find the file on the harddisk :-).

Posted by Robert Taylor on
Malte, right on! Can't wait to see that.

As per comments, the website mockup is up, please check out this thread and comment ... Jon especially you!