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Re: [xml-dev] Memorable quotes from Balisage 2013

3. The value of open source has been oversold. Proprietary is about taking responsibility of the product (contrast with open source, where no one takes responsibility).

*Commercial* software is about taking responsibility for the product.  It doesn't have to be proprietary to be commercial: see Red Hat.

Furthermore, there are plenty of examples of non-commercial FLOSS software where someone has gone to great pains to take responsibility, e.g. Python, the Apache projects, any of the many FLOSS projects led by universities and governments, etc.

Frankly I found the original quote so ridiculous as to be not worth a response.  Luckily few people actually believe such FUD attacks against FLOSS these days.

I had quite a few conversations with people "in the corridors" about the experience of open source in the XML community.

A great deal of the software that became available and was widely used in the early days of XML is no longer being actively developed. That includes both open and non-open software, but the fact is that the products whose development has continued beyond the initial release or two are (in the main) those whose developers have found a way to make money out of them. There are plenty of products in widespread use where the users are getting great value out of the software, but where none of that value is feeding back into investment in further development. libxml/libxslt is perhaps the most obvious example. In my view, this demonstrates a profound weakness in the open source model.

Of course, without open source, XML would never have taken off. The low cost of adoption was a critical factor for success. So I'm certainly not suggesting open source is a total failure. Just that it's not a total success either.

With Saxon, the license revenue from the commercial product has proved sufficient to keep the open source product moving forward (and to fund the development of Saxon-CE). But even with Saxon-CE which is quite early in its life, it's difficult to justify spending further money on it with no sign of a revenue stream in sight.

Michael Kay

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