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Question : Why not release those contribs ?

I'm generally curious, so this question is broad based and not meant for any one developer, sponsor, or contrib in particular. As a development sponsor myself, I wonder what are the factors that other folks might have as their reason for keeping their contribs private ?

If you (or your company) has invested enough time, energy & money into TWiki ... reaching the level of sophistication such that you have developed your own very sophisticated contribs, I'm curious : what are the reasons that prevent you from sharing those contribs with the TWikiCommunity ?

-- KeithHelfrich - 07 Aug 2007

I can relate my own experience.

It has to do with the "releaseability" of those extensions. For me, that mean three things:

  • The Extension is not very company specific (ie, can be useful to someone else).
  • The Extension is well documented.
  • The Extension will not break any existing installation.

I used to be the only one in the company working on TWiki (on unscheduled time, as it was not part of my job), so documentation is nearly non-existent. Besides that, lately I needed to implement things fast to be able to get a buyout from management (They were thinking about replacing TWiki with some other "bug tracking" system), so I commited several "sins" along the way (like our version of XpTrackerPlugin not being backward-compatible with previous versions, and without a migration script, "fixing" EditContrib in a way that works with MAIN but will break all exitsting installations, etc). Plus I have at least two TWikiApplications that need to be "bundled" for release. Thanks to my previous success, I was able to convince management to hire an intern to implement additional features, and to give me some "scheduled" TWiki-time.

That means that now I will clean up the mess, and release smile

-- RafaelAlvarez

Several reasons.
  1. Applicability. Most of the extensions I have not released are specific to a client's environment.
  2. License. I do not own the copyright to some of my work, which is assigned to the client as a matter of course. If they don't want me to release it, I can't.
  3. Time. It's a lot of work, which is why I wrote the BuildContrib in the first place.
  4. ROI. When I develop an extension, it's a lot of work, usually at high risk to myself as I rarely receive any return for my work. There is no marketplace for TWiki extensions, so the motivation to contribute back is extremely low.

-- CrawfordCurrie - 10 Aug 2007

ROI and marketplace is a good point. I can't see really how this can be realized since plugins/contribs are GPLed. I forsee however a marketplace for TWikiApplications.

-- PeterThoeny - 12 Aug 2007

The GPL does not prevent a marketplace for Plugins from existing, as evidenced by many OSS (such as Joomla and Drupal) which have commercial marketplaces.

If I choose not to distribute a plugin to you, that is my choice; the GPL does not force me to do so. I can charge you for the use of whatever distribution channel I choose to make available for the plugin. Once you have the plugin, the GPL guarantees your freedom to redistribute that code. You might choose to do so if, for example, you wanted to discourage the original author from contributing any more TWiki plugins, or providing any future support to you.

You can also create Contribs that do not use any part of the GPL'd TWiki software, and read and write the database directly. These scripts are free of GPL infection and can therefore be distributed commercially.

I have added this point to the discussion topics for the Rome meeting, as I personally believe that TWiki should have a marketplace.

-- CrawfordCurrie - 13 Aug 2007

This is an interesting topic. We started working with TWiki in 2005 and it has grown from an add on for our project teams and clients to something that seems to do a better job for all sorts of applications. Personally I think that seeing TWikiApplications become commercial applications will travel the road of so many social networking systems and silos created by these many systems only fragments the community. However, that is compared to the stagnation that Confluence, Incentive, WikiDoc, SamePage et al experienced by trying to support large enterprises without charging the big bucks. To top it off those in the commercial space end up being one of many technologies trying to deliver the same thing all the while Sharepoint and Notes get pushed by IT.

All I can say is TWiki works for us. Crawford, did you get my last email?

-- JohnDStrong - 19 Aug 2007

I've been mulling over another reason why developers would resist publishing their special contribs on TWikiDotOrg. And I believe it is best summarized by this quote from the ProposedAgendaForRomeSummit :

It worries me that apparently GPL'ed code is relicensed under a very restrictive and incompatible license by twiki.net. It is allright if this is done with 'their' code, but you can't just take someone elses GPLed code and slap another license on that. These worries must be adressed. I yet have to do my research on this, but this might seriously affect the willingness of people like me to invest into contributing code to twiki. A fork (which is apparently what we have here) is the worst thing that can happen to a project generally.

-- KoenMartens - 08 Aug 2007

While Koen shortly after changed his tune and became less worried, I'm still concerned. It seems the EULA that they're using is extremely aggressive, and could be a reason that truly prevents developers from publishing their contribs on TWikiDotOrg.

GettingPaidToDevelopTWiki has long been a topic of debate. But I would hate to see TWikiDotNet's new position be a reason why some special contribs never get published on twiki.org.

Since I can't write contribs myself, my personal belief is that any contrib that I pay someone else to write should be released back to the TWikiCommunity. That's because the community has given me so much already. I feel it is my duty to release anything that I pay for back into the public domain. But as CrawfordCurrie has said once before, doing so could be a great way to motivate your developer to never write anything else for you again!

I'm afraid that this EULA TWikiDotNet is using could be a real reason for other folks to avoid releasing their contribs. And that in turn, could create a negative cycle and a negative energy.

Peter, did I understand your comment from TWikiDotNet on 09 Aug 2007 correctly ? Is twiki.net truly claiming that their restrictive EULA covers all products that ship with the distribution, such as TWiki, Apache, Perl, CentOS and other ?

If that is true, then I can picture that some developers will not release their precious code to TWikiDotOrg for fear that TWikiDotNet will simply vacuum them up for a profit. This would be very bad for the TWikiCommunity indeed.

-- KeithHelfrich - 25 Aug 2007

PS - I apologize for pressing uncomfortable buttons, especially after so much great stuff can be seen coming out of the TWikiCommunitySummitRome2007 !! smile I love it !!

But still, I think that SunshineIsTheGreatDisinfectant and the TWikiCommunity should talk these things through, openly and in public. Especially since the TWikiCommunitySummitRome2007#TWIKI_NET_and_TWiki_org meeting minutes are still pending ...

-- KeithHelfrich - 25 Aug 2007


It is all a matter of misunderstanding. Peter has already clarified what you can also read yourself that the EULA only covers the code thet TWIKI.NET has written which at this point is an installer.

TWiki itself is GPL and remains GPL. And naturally all other open source stuff that you find in the TWIKI.NET distribution also have retain their normal licenses. TWIKI.NET has a proprietary installer and updater for their distrubution and I believe they have purchased some proprietary software for which they cannot open source.

Try and dig a little deeper into what the TWIKI.NET product is and you will find that it is not very different from RedHat and other businesses that have been able to both create value for paying customers and make a profit from this AND contribute back to the open source project.

The reason the TWiki.net minutes are pending is that Peter was the most active taking minutes. And while Peter talked noone else took minutes.

I have added some minutes now of the TWIKI.NET part based on my own notes.

-- KennethLavrsen - 25 Aug 2007

Thanks Kenneth for the clarifying notes!

-- PeterThoeny - 28 Aug 2007

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Topic revision: r10 - 2007-08-28 - PeterThoeny
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