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[Caml-list] Completeness of "Unix" run-time library
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Date: 2004-03-18 (12:42)
From: Benjamin Geer <ben@s...>
Subject: Re: OCaml's Cathedral & Bazaar (was Re: [Caml-list] Completeness of "Unix" run-time library)
Diego Olivier Fernandez Pons wrote:
> Mieux vaut ne pas imposer de bibliotheque par defaut que d'en imposer
> une mauvaise, quitte a paraitre peu reactif. Or aucune des
> bibliotheques citees ne fait l'objet d'un consensus, meme partiel.

The problem is not simply that INRIA is too cautious, it's that there is 
no visible process for accepting enhancements to Caml or its libraries 
from outside INRIA.  INRIA very rarely responds at all, either 
positively or negatively, to proposed modifications from outsiders (the 
sole exception seems to be bug fixes).

Recently there has been a long discussion on this list about enhancing 
the Unix module, and no one from INRIA has said a word about it; this is 
very discouraging.  Has ocaml-lib.sourceforge.net been rejected?  Is 
INRIA silently working on its own library enhancements which will be 
incompatibly replace some of the enhancements developed by the 
community?  Is there a plan for the future development of Caml?  We are 
like the man in Kafka's novel _The Trial_, who stands for years at the 
door of the Law, and is never told whether he will be seen, or when, or 
if not, why not.

Compare this to what happens in successful, healthy open-source 
communities: GCC has a development plan 
(http://gcc.gnu.org/develop.html).  The core developers discuss all 
proposed enhancements on the mailing list.  The steering committee makes 
clear, timely decisions about which changes will be included in each 
release.  Thanks to this plan, a wide variety of companies and 
individuals contribute to GCC.

Python has excellent standard libraries not because there is always 100% 
consensus on what to put in them, but because there is a clear process 
for extending them (http://www.python.org/peps/).  The Python project 
leader responds quickly to proposals, participates in discussion, and 
makes clear, justified decisions.

I think Caml desperately needs an explicit development plan and a clear, 
efficient process for accepting enhancements from the community.  Until 
it has these, it will not be able to meet the needs of its users; many 
of its users will be increasingly frustrated, and will eventually 
abandon it.


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