Application requirements

April 5, 2005

Reading through Daniel’s post about being beaten up about libxml2’s interface I have two responses.

my first response is sympathy – I’ve been there, I get beaten up all the time about yum not doing something as well as something else and why I even bother if I don’t provide X feature.

Yah, it sucks, but it’s not for that subset that you often do things.

My second response, though, is that this is how things work. Sometimes one library is better for the job than something else. It doesn’t necessarily mean that one is definitively better in all possible ways. Hell in this specific case it is cElementTree vs libxml2. No one is even remotely claiming cElementTree can do all the things libxml2 can. We’re just saying that for what we need cElementTree works a little bit better. The post was not terribly hurtful it just described the reasons for the decision to move to cElementTree.

To be clear, though, when someone is criticizing volunteer work it should
be in one of two modes:

  1. kindly, constructively, patches often accepted
  2. sympathetically ie: I know this isn’t what you’re looking to do, but it’s what I needed to do
    and this is why I did not do it the way you wanted.

I think a good deal more politeness would go a long way to easing these
sorts of problems.

Anyway, my point is that this has been what’s driven development. I know I’ve been spurred on in yum by items in smart and apt and urpmi and red-carpet that show up. I sometimes don’t agree with them, but they get me thinking about other ways of dealing with the problem. I will sometimes argue against adopting the other systems if I think the reason for adoption is wrong/bad, but I’ve tried (sometimes unsuccessfully) to not feel personally insulted b/c of a decision like this.

In general, I find maintenance of a widely-used open source program to be something that puts you out there and opens you up to critiques, flames and ridiculous praise, too. You have to ask yourself, why do you maintain it once it goes beyond ‘scratching your itch’. If you can’t find a good enough reason then sometimes it’s time to move on. I get infuriated at yum development on many occasions, still, but if it didn’t make me happy to see it being used so much I definitely would not still do this stuff.

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