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Lattice can tell their own story. I *believe* that will be
a story of cooperation and interoperability perhaps based
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
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:email@example.com]
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 ...