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From Steven Noels <>
Subject Re: Proposal for Lenya
Date Thu, 20 Feb 2003 20:54:04 GMT
Stefano Mazzocchi wrote:
> Steven Noels wrote:

> I agree with your general assumption that a content management system is 
> pure marketing bullshit since there is no one size that fits all.

That's more or less what I'm saying, yes.

> In fact, in my personal view, Lenya is an effort to build a community 
> around the various problems of content management and that will probably 
> generate a "Content Management Framework" rather than a 
> ready-to-be-deployed solution.
> Things like workflows, repository integration, integration with 
> semi-structured editors will probably be components (cocoon blocks?)

My main concern is the fact that Lenya does not come only with a 
community, but also with a code base. That code base is in use already 
at a selected number of commercial installations (which is good, of 
course). I hope to be proven wrong, yet I fear the existing codebase is 
intimately linked with these installations - hence the number of 
publications in CVS. The main group of committers _might_ also depend 
(financially) on supporting these installations. OK, I'm FUDing here, 
but I have seen how some other candidate contributions were received 
lately, and I want to make sure we don't just do the 'huuray - a CMS 
project at Apache' thing.

Please understand me: if you and some Wyona guys and some other 
CMS-oriented folks would jump up and invite people to join a CMS 
project, I would have a vested interest in joining that community. Now 
if joining that community means supporting an existing, massive codebase 
instead of proper [RT]-ing with sufficient blank space to be filled in, 
I would feel less challenged. I'm not saying this will happen, and I 
find it great that Wyona people went the extra mile and open-sourced 
their stuff, but I'm not sure whether your grand vision of an ASF CMF 
will escape from this (codebase) donation.

Of course, I should shut up and get involved (I'll do that). Still, the 
idea behind Incubation Proposals is that people can react upon them. I'm 
only voicing my concerns, and I would love to be proven wrong.

>> * A sh*tload of (even Cocoon-based) (half-baked) CMS solutions exist 
>> already, which might or might not be willing to join ASF in the 
>> future. What will happen if Lenya (nice name BTW) comes and claims 
>> that area? 
> "claims that area"? how can it possibly happen? Apache is not something 
> that you go and homestead. Here we are talking about incubating a 
> community around problems that affict many people (and you as well).
> If you have a better proposal or codebase to start from, I'm happy to 
> hear about it.

Gee - I knew that one was coming ;-)

I have a customer asking me about a Cocoon-based CMS [it's a long-term 
project, so I don't need it right now, so please don't send me quotes 
for all your homebrewn CMS solutions, beloved colleagues ;-)]. I have a 
number of options:

  * try to find out if Lenya fits my requirements and use it

    - be happy with it as-is (just be a user)
    - find holes which I can help to plug
    - wreak havoc while trying to apply Lenya to a use-case it hasn't 
been designed for

  * pretend it doesn't exist and write my own one

    - closed source
    - open source
      - donation to ASF

So eventually, given some time, I might have a codebase, but it is still 
very uncertain.

Now at this time however, there _are_ already people with CMS codebases. 
These people might not be willing to work on Lenya, since they are bound 
to have a different vision and/or implementation, and working on Lenya 
might mean killing their own baby. I'm afraid (and I repeat: please show 
me where I'm wrong) that CMS is an area where it is very hard to come up 
with a decent, generic framework if you don't put many people together 
right from the start. Even then, there's only a slim chance.

>> Will it be the reference ASF CMS tool?
> There is no *reference* anything inside apache. It's software darwinism, 
> the community success decides what lives and what not. Tomcat might be 
> the 'official' servlet engine, yet Cocoon ships Jetty and everybody is 
> happier than ever.
> The system works, it's adaptive, impartial and meritocratic.

Sure, and I'm wondering out loud whether the move to Apache will be good 
for Lenya. They have a community, there's buzz, a diverse set of 
committers so-they-say, and soon they might find themselves in the midst 
of a much larger community. Does Wyona/Lenya needs the ASF brand to 
succeed? To attract new committers? Given OSCOM and quite some vocal 
people working on it, I'm pretty sure Lenya receives a fair bit of 
attention. But as you say, the system is there and it works. We are 
allowed to try and do some future-telling, aren't we?

>> Can CMS be considered an area where the ASF wants to operate in, like 
>> Zope (CMF) is...?
> The ASF is for the evolution of web technologies. Would you state that 
> making structured content production and management easier is a goal the 
> ASF shouldn't deal with?

Aren't we doing that yet? We have XML parsers, XSLT engines, WebDAV 
stacks, servlet containers, and much more (like mod_perl and AxKit, Matt 
;-). Assembling those into a product will not necessarily evolve web 
technology IMHO.

>> Or do we stick to supporting technology like servlet containers, http 
>> stacks, build tools ... I know there is no policy at ASF that states 
>> only one CMS project can exist under the ASF umbrella, but still there 
>> is only one JetSpeed, one Tomcat, one Cocoon, etc etc - I hope my 
>> point is clear.
> It's clear that you don't understand what we are trying to do.

I'm _trying_ to understand. Which is better than silently ignoring ;-)

> We don't want to *homestead* the CMS niche of the ASF (whatever that 
> means in OSS terms!), we want to build a community that will focus on 
> serious content management and, so far, there is no such community in 
> the ASF since Slide is repository-oriented (no publishing nor editing 
> layer) and Forrest is publishing-oriented (no repository nor editing 
> layer).

Sure thing. Since Lenya does publishing too, what is the future of 
Forrest in your scenario? This is not a pun nor a cynical remark: I'm 
honestly asking. It seems like you guys have spend some serious thoughts 
in preparing this proposal, and I would like to understand the rationale 
behind it.

> We believe that the best architecture for CMS is the one described by 
> Lenya where there is a clear separation between 'content editing', 
> 'content repository' and 'content publishing', all of them left as 
> 'framework' for developers to build customized CMS services upon.

I reckon that. I would like to see it better articulated in that way in 
the existing codebase, however.

> We have most of the technology we need, we just need a community with a 
> more detailed focus on these problems and so far the ASf doesn't have it.
>> * from what I read here [], there 
>> is extensive refactoring planned _before_ reaching 1.0, yet this is 
>> envisioned to be done as an incubating ASF (Cocoon sub-) project. I am 
>> wondering whether it wouldn't be better if this high-impact stuff is 
>> done before being moved to Apache (it also sounds a bit like the Lenya 
>> people take the move to ASF as a given, which might perhaps be a bit 
>> too premature).
> This is a good point.

Pfew! :-)

> At the same time, I'd love to see refactoring done *after* entering 
> apache because that would allow the community to steer the project 
> before it's carved in stone (as it happened for xindice and it's now 
> much harder to refactor)

I have been lurking on Xindice since it was moved to Apache, and the 
Xindice scenario is exactly what is inspiring me when reading this 
proposal. There are some similarities IMHO.

>> * reviewing the archived commit messages, I wonder whether the 
>> proposed list of initial committers reflects reality, or that the list 
>> has been expanded so that we won't have the suspicion it is mainly one 
>> company/group working on the codebase (as is the case with 
>> right now).
> Wow, that's very close to be insulting, Steven. Careful.

It wasn't meant that way. It's a rough and possibly faulthy analysis, 
while trying to verify what word-of-mouth told me. If I insulted anyone, 
I'm sorry. But I very much value that criteria for becoming an ASF 
project, so I think the question _should_ be asked.

> Anyway, I agree that the wyona community is not very diverse, yet, if 
> Wyona had a successful and diverse community, we wouldn't pass thru
> incubation.


> But I wouldn't say "expanded" since all the people listed *did* in fact, 
> work on the codebase and are interested in keep an eye on it (which is 
> as good as you can get these days), the incubation stage will decide 
> what happen.
>> * Xopus has recently had some troubles w.r.t. its licensing policy 
>> (open, not open, etc...) Are these things effectively solved right now? 
> q42 has troubles understanding the oss business model. we are helping 
> them privately. so far with very positive responses and some friction 
> points we are trying to solve.
>> What part of Xopus will be inside Lenya CVS?
> None. If we reach an agreement with q42, Xopus will be submitted as 
> another incubation proposal, apache licensed and they will be part of 
> the community.

Ah. Thanks for sharing! :-)

> In any case, lenya will keep the editing layer totally separated, yet 
> design the proper hooks for them.
>> As I said, these are 'just remarks'. The fact I'm posting them means I 
>> actually care about this proposal, in a positive sense.
> Hopefully my comments give you more insights.

Sure thing. Hope I didn't offended anyone. I'm here because I care.

Steven Noels                  
Outerthought - Open Source, Java & XML Competence Support Center
Read my weblog at  
stevenn at                stevenn at

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