[nSLUG] Open Source web authoring tools

Daniel Morrison draker at gmail.com
Thu Apr 26 23:36:37 ADT 2007

On 26/04/07, Oliver Doepner <odoepner at gmail.com> wrote:
> I think I am not interested in a debate about if and why "individualism
> sucks". I am sorry, but you sound to me like someone who didn't get his
> way and now turns that into a rant about undisciplined, selfish hackers
> who fail to work on CEO ready applications.

Whoah, I am sure that Donald did not mean that we should all become
synchronized automatons.  I also think that Donald's main point is being
misunderstood -- perhaps he came on a little too strong and got a bad

My understanding is this: firstly, if we agree that, in general, it is bad
when CEOs and CTOs choose proprietary solutions (e.g. Microsoft) over FOSS
solutions, then anything that scares CEOs and CTOs away from open source
is also bad.  Second, the suggestion is that "too much choice" in the open
source world scares CEOs and CTOs.  This is the bit where Donald wrote:

   It [...] harms the image of Linux in general that these hundreds of
   choices exist, as CTO types get the impression that the bar is too low
   for being able to create a Linux distribution, and that equates with
   questions on trust and reliability, stability of the project, etc.

Donald also wrote:

   If you share my interest in seeing open source succeed you
   will share my concerns that these corporate beasts find a way
   to accept open source with an alternate image.

Obviously many people don't care at all whether their (or any other) FOSS
"succeeds" in a corporate environment. Also I think it was agreed that not
all forks and separate projects were useless.  However if we can quote
from the original article:

   There's no way to stop people from starting new duplicative projects,
   nor should we want to, but please God, do we have to actively encourage

So, to sum up: Donald is basically saying that he agrees with the author
that it would be in the best interests of FOSS to NOT actively encourage
everyone and his dog to start a new HTTP server. Instead the encouragement
needs to be to contribute to existing projects.

This is important: it's the culture, attitude and trends that are being
discussed, not the act of actually forking a new project.  No one is
advocating a competency test before being allowed to start a new
sourceforge project.  It's the community's attitude towards starting new
projects that is being discussed.

Also, the way I read it, the Debian example was not criticizing (well, not
much) the Debian folk for not having the time to update a CD, but rather
suggesting that if more folk supported existing projects like Debian,
rather than starting their own projects, then Debian might have the
developer resources it needs to make these updates, and perhaps even
respond to suggestions with a smile instead of with somewhat frustrated
overworked volunteers. Of course this is hypothetical; we can't force
people to contribute to Debian.  However if the community overwhelmingly
indicated that more value (much more value) was attributed to small
contributions in existing projects than was attributed to starting new
projects, perhaps this would influence people to make these contributions.

I agree with Ian: if CEOs and CTOs can't be visionary enough to escape a
blinkered existence, then tough on them.  However I also think that
anything the FOSS world does which brings in a least a few of the
potentially interested or marginally clueful corporate types is a good

> BTW: Did you see the Open Source web authoring tools that I mentioned?
> You had mentioned the lack of a Dreamweaver replacement on Linux. Aptana
> looks quite promising as a web authoring tool.

In the context of this discussion, "promising" doesn't cut it.  The CEO
wants a tool that their staff can learn in a day, master in a week and use
to get the corporate site updated by last Tuesday.  And Donald wasn't
asking for pointers to web authoring tools (however, thanks for the
links).  He was giving an example of a class of software that is of
interest to corporate types and which do not have a strong showing in the
FOSS community (unlike web, DNS, and mail servers, or graphics apps (gimp)
or word processors and spreadsheets (openoffice, abiword, gnumeric,
koffice, etc...)

IMO, this is the niche in which a successful open source business can
operate.  You pick a set of tools, provide a service with them, and sell it.

- you make the choices
- you guarantee your solution will work
- you collect the money

The CEOs and CTOs will gladly trade money for the assurance that the
solution will work, without wasting hours of their staff's time only to
find out they picked the wrong solution.

The trick is convincing them that _your_ safe and supported solution will
be as good as the competition, e.g. Microsoft, because anything less is no
good, no matter how inexpensive it is.



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