> On Fri, Sep 30, 2005 at 08:27:45AM +0100, Peter B. West wrote:
> > Jeremias Maerki wrote:
> > >On 29.09.2005 11:58:57 Peter B. West wrote:
> > >
> > I can understand that some sponsors may be sensitive to divulging such
> > information, for at least two reasons. Firstly, the treat of being
> > inundated with begging letters, and secondly, the possibility that they
> > might be upsetting their own business partners.
> >
> > Before you took up the sponsorship offer, you mentioned to me that it
> > was on the cards, which I appreciated.  I assume you told others as
> > well. Targeted sponsorship is potentially extremely disruptive to a
> > group, and it seems to me that the process must be as open as possible.
> >  If it can't be as open as the code, it should be nearly so.
> Do you mean that such a sponsorship changes the relations within the
> group? It certainly does. I feel that Jeremias has done an admirable
> job in managing the relations within the group, and in balancing his
> full time input in FOP with the more limited input of other group
> members.
> Simon,

I've been stewing on this for quite a while, and as you, at least, seem to have missed the point, I'll vent.

Some background. I've been working on the implementation of this cow of a Recommendation since early in 2001, mainly on FOP. In that time, I have had not one red cent of financial support. I'm not the only one in that situation, just the one who has been doing it the longest. Others have had employer support to devote some (or all) of their time to FOP, and Jeremias has for some time been sponsored, whatever that means.

(The fact that some get paid to work on open source is not unusual, particularly at Apache. Have a look through the committers on say, Xerces or Xalan, and look for the ibm.com addresses. I could also mention Sun and BEA.)

The outside observer of the FOP code base and web site could be excused for thinking that I had never existed on this project. I wrote code for a year before I got committer status, incidentally at the same time as Jeremias and Joerg. The reason it took me so long was that I was not toeing the party line - FOP HEAD. My contributions could not be incrementally added to the existing line of development, so they didn't exist. The only way I got committer status eventually was through the intervention of Nicola Ken Barozzi, who was appalled that forked code was being hosted outside Apache.

That code was alt-design properties code. It seems to me that many of the ideas and implementation details of alt-design are now sitting in the FOP code base. This is true whether Finn ever looked at the alt-design properties code. It ain't over yet.[1]

Does any record of any of this remain on the web site? No. All trace of alt-design has been vigorously scrubbed from the site. A bit thank you to Glen and to Jeremias. Not only does this amount to the re-writing of FOP history, but it was detrimental to the development effort. A number of observations which have been made recently were discussed in detail in the alt-design documentation, notably in respect of space-resolution and footnotes.

Rewriting history is a pernicious activity at the best of times. What infuriates me about this exercise is not only its immediately detrimental effects on me, but what I perceive to be its motivation. As to the first, I cannot, for example, point anyone who is interested to the relevant parts of the web site and say, "That's what I was doing for the past few years."

This is important anyway, but in my case it is more important. I started work on FOP at the beginning of the tech wreck. That hit my home town particularly hard. In addition, my skills were stale. XSL-FO has been my school of Java. The bottom line was that I had almost no work in IT over that period. I lived off savings, I lived off unemployment benefits, I sold liquor at a bottle shop, I was supported by my wife. My efforts on this project, and now Folio, were, and are, critical to my prospects of employment.

Jeremias has known my situation for some time. Let me repeat that. When Jeremias went about the complete purging of all traces of my work from the site, he knew my professional situation.

You might say that it doesn't matter because I can simply put such things on the Folio site. But of course, the Folio site is not, for some time, at least, going to get the traffic, nor does it have the same "weight". Which brings me to the motivation. I don't doubt that Jeremias does not believe in my design ideas. That makes the behaviour even more bizarre. If the ideas are no good, let them stand naked to inspection. No-one will be interested. No, that's not enough. Someone *might* be interested, and Jeremias *might* lose a potential developer to Folio. That is, someone probably working for nothing, might not contribute to FOP. And that would not be in Jeremias' personal financial interest. That's the bottom line, as they say.

This is not "community" as in "The Community of Scholars". This is community as in drinking the blue Kool-aid.

All of this might seem peculiarly personal, and it *is* highly personal. There are also, however, principles involved. It is simply just (as in justice) that everyone know who is getting paid, as it happens. It is my own view that companies who wish to contribute to Open Source development need to get their head around the "Open". It is simply just that all efforts expended in the pursuit of the implementation be recognized. What type of open community is this to be? Can this community tolerate diversity? Can this community live with its own history?


[1] There was some discussion of integrating the alt-design code, as at the end of 2002, into FOP HEAD. I wasn't interested in that for two reasons.

Firstly, I had discovered in writing it that it wouldn't work. Properties need area context for resolution. It doesn't matter that it is only percentages that require this. Percentages can occur just about anywhere a length is required, and almost all of them need area context. This lesson is still being learned in the current properties code, if the recent changes instituted by Manuel are anything to go by. It's a complex area though, and I don't pretend to understand how comprehensive the current code's treatment is.

Secondly, stream parsing was not necessary and had to go. That wasn't going to work in terms of the existing structure of the code, or my plans for marker resolution and beyond. More on this later.

Peter B. West <http://cv.pbw.id.au/>
Folio <http://defoe.sourceforge.net/folio/>

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