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   Re: [xml-dev] What is XML's appropriate place in an office suite?

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In a message dated 19/04/2003 06:22:08 GMT Daylight Time, ari@cogsci.ed.ac.uk writes:

> What I guess you are saying is that Richard Stallman could (or has) put
> forward a counter argument to the point I made and that you find his counter
> argument compelling.
> Richard Stallman may be less than entirely objective about matters like this.

That's an interesting way to refute an argument. I suppose you *are*
entirely objective?


I see it more as a response to name-dropping rather than a refutation of an argument. If there had been an argument put forward I could have responded (or not) to it.

To almost echo a book title, to treat the mention of Richard Stallman as ex cathedra is bizarre. :)

At the risk of caricaturing, sometimes I get the impression that more than a few on this list take the George W. Bush approach to software development - "You are either for us or against us" or "You are either evil or good".

The assumption seems to be that open source is good and that proprietary is evil.

It seems to me ... you don't have to agree :) ... that there is no good/evil dichotomy. There are several business models, with different plus and negative points.

In the first few lines of the GNU manifesto Richard Stallman writes, "Contributions of ... money ... are greatly needed.". That is a business model. Unconventional perhaps, but still a business model.

JBoss.org have another variant. The software is "free" but, if the user needs it, the user pays the developers for consultancy work.

MySQL does something slightly different again.

IBM supports Eclipse which seems, to me at least, to be a teaser application to induce those developers who need full WebSphere studio to upgrade and pay money.

Adobe, Microsoft etc etc have yet other variants on the model.

Universities have yet another set of values which feed into this melting pot of different approaches and value systems.

It seems to me to be far too simplistic to have a good/evil dichotomy.

It seems to me that all software, whether "free" open source or money-up-front proprietary software has costs. Hopefully it also, if appropriately chosen, has benefits, however those may be appropriately measured in a particular situation. Costs may be measured in time, hard cash, delay etc etc.

In a specific context a business or an individual need to make choices. In the context of InfoPath/XForms which is partly how this discussion arose, a business which has a reasonable amount of cash but specific time pressures may choose the seeming convenience of InfoPath. A skilled XML developer who is cash-poor but has lots of time may choose an open source implementation of XForms.

XML has direct value to us XML geeks (it helps, directly or indirectly to put food on our table), it has indirect value to enterprises (bought at the price of paying for proprietary software or buying the skills to use open-source).

The value of a piece of software to a particular individual or company is a complex, multi-dimensional proposition in my view.

If you feel that Richard Stallman has a compelling argument to put forward that refutes what I have said then please focus on the substance. Name dropping, I would politely suggest, is inadequate.

Andrew Watt


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