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From "Martin Cooper" <>
Subject Re: Projects in trouble or otherwise needing help
Date Mon, 31 Dec 2007 22:20:52 GMT
(I just rediscovered this thread as part of a year-end mail cleanup...)

On Nov 14, 2007 4:32 PM, James Margaris <> wrote:

> I am one of the pimary committers on XAP. As far as the board report, I
> just plain missed it until it was too late.
> As far as the community building is concerned, yes the lists are basically
> dead. However work does continue on the project, for better or worse.

This is the part that both baffles me and concerns me. How is it that a
group of developers can continue to work on a project without any discussion
on what they're working on?

The only way I could see that happening is if the project is effectively
"done" and people are just fixing the odd bug that gets submitted, but my
impression, at least, is that XAP is not a project that is close to being
"done". Perhaps I'm wrong about this.

So where is the discussion on what happens next? The roadmap, on the web
site, stops at a year ago, and XAP 0.3.0 was released early in 2007. Is
there a plan to get from 0.3.0 to, say, a 1.0 release? Where can I read
about that?

One question that I would ask the XAP folks who work for Nexaweb (which is a
majority of them, I believe): Is there any discussion at all within Nexaweb
about XAP, its status, its future, and its development? Frankly, this has
always seemed to me the most likely reason for the lack of discussion on the
lists - the discussions are happening, but happening in person between
people who work for the same company.

Part of the reason I stopped using the lists is that substantive responses
> were rare. The only thing I ever got comments on were things like naming and
> copyright notices. Of course that is a chicken and egg problem to some
> degree, there is no community so nobody uses the lists to discuss so there
> is no community.
> It would help me if someone could help me understand how to make XAP more
> appealing and interesting to the Apache community. Is the problem that there
> are no good samples and demos? The website isn't good? Nobody understands
> what the point is?
> I like discussing technical issues with people but I don't like posting
> technical thoughts only to be met consistently by silence. At that point it
> becomes busywork, just going through the motions for the sake of
> appearances.

Let's flip that around. If you were looking at a project with a view to
getting involved in it, how likely would you be to post your thoughts and
ideas if not even the people already involved are discussing anything in the

I understand that it can be hard to bootstrap the discussion. But without a
track record of discussion on the lists, there's little reason for anyone
not already involved to even subscribe to those lists. People need to see
that *something* is happening on the project. The threads don't all need to
be deep technical discussions. For example, where's the thread on what
should go into the 0.4.0 release? How should the 1.0 release be defined?

Is everything - architecture, design, dev process, testing, documentation -
so well nailed down for this project that the people involved don't need to
talk about it? I've been involved with Struts, for example, for 7 years, and
we *still* have discussions about all of those!

Martin Cooper

The XAP project is not like projects like Kabuki that never did any
> development and never responded on the lists. There is active development
> and if someone ever posted to the lists I'm sure someone would respond.
> Right now posting on the lists feels like playing to an empty theater.
> James Margaris
> ________________________________
> From: Robert Burrell Donkin []
> Sent: Wed 11/14/2007 2:42 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: Projects in trouble or otherwise needing help
> (forgive the rambling reply)
> On Nov 12, 2007 4:47 PM, Noel J. Bergman <> wrote:
> >   XAP - mailing lists show almost no discussion, mostly JIRA issues and
> > commits
> XAP is an interesting case. in some ways, i think that XAP has always
> been short of just one independent developer showing up to scratch an
> itch. there was no end of endeavour in the early days from the team to
> try to fit in. the atmosphere has always been open, polite and
> encouraging to outsiders but the volumes of people turning up on list
> have just too far too low. i've tried to figure out some rational
> explanation for this but i don't have one.
> at apachecon EU, rob gave a very well attended session on XAP and many
> people had questions. but no one really showed up on list to follow up
> afterwards. not sure why.
> martin tried hard for quite a while to encourage the team to talk a
> lot more on the list without long term success. it's tough, though. i
> find it hard to explain why talking is vital for community building.
> most of the time, no one is listening but sometimes, just sometimes a
> few words flung out into the ether will connect with someone. one
> connection with someone who goes onto become a long term contributor
> then pays back the time spent on the rest. but if there really isn't
> anyone listening then the effort is really wasted. in many ways, the
> fault is mine. i probably should have found more time to actively
> promote community building and envanlegise (but JAMES took a lot more
> energy than i'd expected).
> i'm not an expert in this area but the design ideas seemed to me
> powerful and unusual enough to be worth allowing development to
> continue whilst there were developers willing to code. however, this
> unusual miss may be that this is a sign that the people that brought
> XAP to apache are finally starting to run out of patience. on the
> other hand, it's possible that someone will show up on list tomorrow
> and say - XAP's cool but here's a patch that'll make it even cooler.
> if that happens, then that may be all that's needed to kick start the
> project.
> - robert
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