This is going to be another one of my long answers to a short question...

I don't really attempt to measure this. It would be trivial to measure the number of downloads from the access logs; however, I prefer to mesure it subjectively.

Note that its documented on the Jakarta site that Opensource is not about units shipped. I'd look up the page but I'm sure that if I don't someone will do it for me so why bother.

== Start with Community aspects ==

We have an active and vibrant community which has improved the lives of most of the project's members. Especially career-wise and financially. We all work pretty well together and POI is devoid of the antipathy that pervades other projects. We make decisions by concensus, but do not seek the granularity of decision-making on other projects or projectless mailing lists (in my view peanut galleries). All members feel free to express dissent, but there isn't a great deal. Not saying its perfect, but that its not held up.

We do have a bandwidth problem. Most members have real jobs and don't get as much time to contribute as we'd like. There is also a significant barrier to enter the community. Its like actually hard and stuff. There are other projects with steep learning curves but generally they are knowlege of a relatively well known technology. Cocoon for instance just requires you to learn all about XML and Avalon, and I do mean ALL about XML. However, POI requires you to understand hexidecimal math and know how to use diff and investigate hex dumps. This has frustrated some potentially contributing users, but in truth we're not really so interested in helping folks who don't wish to help themselves or POI (remember the bandwidth problem) or at least not for free (too much like work). This keeps our community small, but also serves as a natural QA control of sorts (snobby I know but it does). However there are enough folks who wander in and say "Reading Hex dumps is for me! Thats FUN!" so we grow...just slower than other projects.

Our attrition or partial attrition mostly happens due to the projects tendency to cause excessive employment to its most active contributers. I'm happy to say we've never lost anyone due to other factors so far.

== Next with my personal measures ==

First, POI attacts mail from some of the largest banks in the word, financial institutions, governments, millitary institutions, nuclear power plants, etc. There is even a large Apache backer flirting with the idea of using it (while its irrelevant to me whether they do or not, it is relevant that they are considering it).

Next, I measure the success of it by two other things: Microsoft's flirting with open file formats (I'm sure it will be "open" in that Microsoft sort of way) and the final crux will be the day this goes out of business. The first clue to eventual success is that Tidestone has re-emerged as a seperate business entity instead of just a redirect to a page on Actuate's site. The second is that they have lowered the price from 15k per processor to 5,000k per server (I'm sure there is a big astericks) This is after an extensive advertising campaign including full page adds in Dr. Dobbs. This is despite some functionality that we do not yet have.

My final measure is how much money I'm making and how many other POI developers I'm able to cut in on it. Thus far (this year) I'm able to derive 35% of my income from opensource efforts (a percentage which is up about 800% from last year). I suppose all of those are directly or indirectly related to POI. I'll undoubtably be flamed for this unique viewpoint, but its a measure which I find important. I've managed to pass on some of this work to two other POI committers thus far. (no one bother writing me offering to do this work, I only pass this work on to contributers to the project)

So to me how many people are using POI and not contributing to the project in any way is totally irrelevant. I measure it in actual benefit to myself and the other contributers. To me any other mesure is trivial.

I know thats not what you want, but I hope it helps.


Howard M. Lewis Ship wrote:

Woops --- that was supposed to be private. But advice is still welcome.

Howard M. Lewis Ship
Creator, Tapestry: Java Web Components

-----Original Message-----
From: Howard M. Lewis Ship [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2003 6:42 PM
To: 'Jakarta General List'
Subject: RE: Jakarta-POI 1.10.0-dev released

I'm looking for a bit of advice.

People keep asking me "how many people are using Tapestry" ... and I honestly have no idea. Insufficient feedback.

Do you have a way of determining the user base of POI? Any guidelines based on downloads?

Howard M. Lewis Ship
Creator, Tapestry: Java Web Components

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