donderdag 20 mei 2010

Opinion: The Class of Projects

This blog is about projects that are not backed up by companies. We, Eclipse users, are very lucky that there are still companies and individuals that invest in time and money for projects like Equinox, ECF, Platform, JDT, CDT, etc..

I learned from Arnoud Engelfriet that there are three types of projects: Base, Commodity and Differentiator.

Base:
If we look at end users, nobody gives a damn about the base because it is just not visible. What does a user care if Eclipse runs on Equinox or on a homegrown executable or if it runs on Swing or on SWT? However, it is needless to say how important these projects are.

Commodity:
These are projects that are an expected part of the product but that are visible to the user. In case of a IDE, think of completion, refactoring, project management, team support, etcetera. The user cares about these things but they are a part of every Java IDE and if you don't have it, you are not in the game. However, it is needless to say how important these projects are.

Differentiator:
Now we come to the interesting business projects because this is stuff that no other IDE has. Think projects as Mylyn, Swordfish, Rienna, etcetera. Needless to say how important these projects are.

Differentiators form an interesting business area and you see that these projects are mostly backed up by companies who can and will help their committers and contributors with infrastructure.

If you are a project that is a Base or Commodity project and not backed up by a company then it can be hard to get funding. A recent example is the Eclipse telecommunication infrastructure.

I end up paying $40 every week for a teleconference call with our group because the foundation does not have a local dial-in for my country. Use Skype you say. Sure we will if it is possible but you know that Skype does not always operate as expected when teleconferencing with people around the world and we don't want to waste time with technical issues (thats the first time I ever said that).

The foundation has no money to pay for this infrastructure. I respect that but who will pay for it then?

In other words, it can be very hard for a Base or Commodity project to get proper funding.

And this is also something that the Foundation should be aware of. It is logical that the parents are very proud of the children who are popular but the other children need attention too.

Base and Commodity projects do not get enough attention. Not only in terms of funding, but also in terms of marketing power, love and mentions. When was the last time SWT was placed in the spotlight?

Therefore, I think bug 313479 starts a good discussion.

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