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   RE: [x3d-public] RE: [xml-dev] Which Will Be Released First, the W3C's X

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Lattice can tell their own story.  I *believe* that will be 
a story of cooperation and interoperability perhaps based 
on CDF.  

The case of real contention in the 3D world is over 
VRML97.  It has become moribund but companies that don't want 
to move to X3D, usually objecting to XML, are extending it 
with proprietary works and calling that standard.Note that the 
players doing this are not consortium members.  This strategy 
plays the market and the customers for suckers.  

Standards are slow moving.  Specifications don't have to be. 
Conflating the two has been a source of slowness because 
different processes rule these distinctly different works. 
The W3DC has improved its speed for putting out specifications 
by using the inner ring/outer ring methodology I mentioned 
earlier, but the improvements have been of late, and not as 
noticeable in the beginning when the fight over the next 
generation design was fierce and awkward.  

Here are things that slow us down:

1.  The game:  companies and individuals sign up on the 
specification lists and after a honeymoon of 'cooperation' 
begin to argue endlessly without consensus.  A strong chair 
and a clear process are needed, and the fact that some parties 
will walk off in a huff claiming they have been hoodwinked 
in some way is why that process has to be clear.  It also 
has to be an acceptable outcome.

2.  Open lists without membership or participation agreements: 
Too many people come for the endorphin rush.  They want to be 
heard regardless of the impact.  They are inexperienced and 
ignore the process and the goals.  Without membership, they 
have little incentive to cooperate and without the participation 
agreement, are not bound to the process.  Believing they can 
run to slashdot to plead their case, they keep working against 
the process.  Being asked to leave the working group has to be 
an acceptable outcome.

3.  In medias rex: technologies worthy of standards are already 
robust.  Each company has its own version and that leads to the 
problems in item 1.  The technologies are similar on the surface 
but not in the details.  No one wants to start over.  They see 
the standard as a marketing ploy, not a means to help the market 
grow or protect the customers' ownership and control of their 
information.  After some period of negotiation, if the company 
cannot come to agreement, being asked to leave the working group 
has to be an acceptable outcome.

4.  Too many players in the game.   Markets with too many players 
eventually sort that out and players fade.  If they are resources 
for the spec creation, that's a bad thing.    Spec teams usually 
come down to a few major contributors and a chorus.  Where one fits 
into those categories has a lot to do with competence and willingness 
to compromise.

Open source is a way of enabling companies to converge on technical 
implementations or get started.  Full stop.   Open source can be 
used as a sample implementation to proof the specification or to 
help jump-start efforts.  As a reference implementation, they can 
kill off innovation and nail the specification to an early and 
possibly flawed implementation that becomes the de facto standard. 
On the other hand, if there is to be a reference implementation, 
open source is the way to go.   The strategy one chooses here depends 
on things like whether or not the specification or standard has 
an accompanying object model as for example, X3D does.  Even then, 
the larger problem of interoperation in an environment such as 
a browser and operating system where the implementation of the 
cross-object communications languages such as the scripting language 
has incompatibilities means the problems aren't completely solved.

I understand the philosophy of going with what is working now.  But 
it is a short term fix to a long term problem and it exacerbates the 
difficulty of getting a longer term solution.   Perhaps it is the 
case that longer term solutions aren't desirable and one punts back 
to relying on XML to ensure one has a 50/50 chance of getting the 
semantic information back out of the data when the inevitable 
migration occurs.  XML is at its best, a lifecycle option.  The 
rest comes down to platforms and market share.  Licensing is a 
normal business model.  Companies that can't afford to license 
may be playing over their heads, but open source is an excellent 
alternative where they contribute in-kind.  Free riders are the 
problem there, but part of that ecology.  It's like a kid catching 
measles:  not good but not avoidable without more expensive and 
thus unacceptable tactics.

Microsoft played the game better and faster.  That's all.  As 
in any king of the hill game, staying on the top is the real 
challenge.   The choice to be a good citizen and on the right 
side of history has costs.  Some pay willingly; others cite 
self-interest; some come back to the standard.  With the rare 
exception of HTML, very few technologies are standing still.

We create specifications to get new technology up to scale. 
We create standards to protect our customers from us.


From: Niclas Olofsson [mailto:nicke.olofsson@home.se]

Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
> Probably a good product, but a product that only interoperates 
> with itself is a pretty risky investment these days.

I have different opinion. Sort of. The example given was perhaps not the 
best one, since they do seem to interoperate with what is important in 
that area of business. Risky is the other way around, going with 
standards. Standards (like VRML) is slow moving creatures, and companies 
can't really afford to wait for stuff to happen in a standard. They do 
what seem fit at the time they need it. *Most of the time* I've been in 
projects looking at standards, the management (perhaps badly advised) 
have chosen to go with what we need instead. May that be implementing 
parts of a standard or not, but never to go for the complete standard. 
You must understand that I usually work in medium-sized startup 
companies. If it wasn't for opensource, standards wouldn't stand a 
chance in that environment. It's far to expensive and time consuming to 
stick with standards. The normal scenario would be to buy 3'rd party 
products, and unless you have a paying customer, that's not going to 
happen. This is product development companies, not consulting. The only 
thing that we have actually payed for, Ever, I think is our development 
environment and licences for MS Office.

The best a standards-based product selling company really can do, is to 
rely on "piracy" to sell their products. Far to many products today you 
can't even download and develop with, without paying development licence 
for it. Risky business for me is when you can't afford to have 
developers doing exactly that, because you have a product that you'd 
rather sell to one unhappy customer (that didn't get what he expected), 
instead of 100 happy ones that knew beforehand what they bought. Jasc 
did a great job on this (PaintShop). It was the first (really the first) 
software I downloaded out of internet. I could use it for free and 
learned it. Over the years I've bought at least 5 or 6 licences from 
them. Just because I could use it for free in the beginning. We all know 
how that works, don't we.

But OSS is the joker in the game. With open source software, standards 
stand a chance. And that's where it works. You trade into a standard 
that you get for free, until you know you have it working (and someone 
is paying for it), then you can go hunt for faster implementations. 
Better support. Nicer logotypes. Whatever you need. And only then you 
pay for it.

How to get X3D to fit into this is however darkness. It just doesn't 
seem to fit into the eco-system of software development... you know len, 
when you have a company like Lattice (which seem to be featured on the 
Web3D CD btw), it stands pretty strong againts X3D. Why interoperate 
based on a standard, when you have no competition? It's not like 
Microsoft lost the war, did they?

Very little about X3D ...



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