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Re: [Caml-list] Whither the Caml Consortium?
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Date: 2001-10-24 (13:17)
From: Markus Mottl <markus@o...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Whither the Caml Consortium?
Rolf Wester schrieb am Montag, den 22. Oktober 2001:
> I think the lack of willingness to support OCaml financially is
> correlated with the lack of perception of the extent to which OCaml
> makes software development easier and as a consequence cheaper.

That's not quite what I think, but it certainly also explains to some
extent why it is so difficult to gain more members for OCaml in general
and for the Consortium in particular.

> Those who use a programming language in their daily work are in many
> cases not those who decide on money.

Which is, I fear, most often a good idea... ;)

> And in order to convince someone to spend money for the development
> of a product like OCaml (not mainstream, almost no one knows it,
> there is not even an English text book, no commercial support) one
> must have very good arguments.

And it would be unwise to believe that it's only technical arguments
that are considered here. There simply must be economic incentives to
convince companies. To say it clearly: a manager who doesn't consider
the latter is a bad manager. We should really try to avoid our natural
mindset of enthusiastic technicians or scientists and put ourselves into
the role of a manager who is responsible for his investment decisions.

> I think what could be very helpful is a detailed list of OCaml's
> strength (and weeknesses if any) compared to languages like C++,
> Java and also compared to other ML-implementations, Lisp, Haskell,
> Clean etc.? This list should also include real world examples (not to
> complicated) to demonstrate OCaml's benefits.

This does not work. I am sure that most of us have already tried such
strategies, but they do not convince, because all competing languages
use buzzwords and lists of "advantages". If you want to convince people,
write a killer-app in their respective field of interest, otherwise they
won't even listen.

> Another point could be that people are more likely to spend money
> for getting a product or support than for supporting someone else to
> develop a programming language. So why not taking a fee for commercial
> use of OCaml or for support (Clean, Python, Lisp)?

Taking a look at companies that base their business on open source,
I wouldn't say that their strategy "sell services" was particularly
successful up to now. Mostly, because they overlooked that services have
a rather strong impact on costs and therefore on profit. Don't forget,
as soon as you demand fees for your products, you are liable for them
and no kind of licence will get you around this (at least not in the
countries I know).

Markus Mottl

Markus Mottl                                             markus@oefai.at
Austrian Research Institute
for Artificial Intelligence                  http://www.oefai.at/~markus
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