Monday, January 3, 2011

Open Letter to WANDisco

Shortly before we all went away on our Christmas holiday, one of the companies that sponsors developers in the Subversion community, WANDisco, delivered a big fu#k you to the rest of the community in the form of a press release and blog post from their CEO Dave Richards.

I commend my fellow members of the Subversion PMC for being able to take a deep breath and wait a couple weeks to respond with a cool head. Had it been up to me alone, I am sure we would have said something that felt good at the time but that we regret later. You can read the official response here on the Apache Software Foundation blog:

Apache Subversion to WANdisco: +1 on the code contributions, -1 on the attitude

I was, and am, deeply offended by Dave Richards and WANDisco in general. Their business model seems to be to issue press releases rather than actually doing stuff. In my experience, companies that choose to issue press releases BEFORE they start working on something are usually to be ignored and I think that is the case here too. The difference is that WANDisco is attempting to portray themselves as leading the Subversion community and as such that they are speaking for the community. As the blog post from the Subversion PMC illustrates, they neither lead the community nor are the welcome to speak for it.

That said, I get it. No one knows or cares who WANDisco is and by issuing press releases and generating controversy a few more people will now have heard of you. Congratulations. Bully for you. However, in the process your actions are only damaging the product and community you claim to care so deeply about. This reveals your true motives.

If you are so desperate for attention that you feel the need to issue press releases we probably cannot stop you. If you absolutely have to to issue a press release to try to garner some attention, then why could you not simply issue something that says "Hey we think features X, Y and Z are important and we wanted to let you know that we intend to direct our resources to work on those features." I could live with that even though I would rather see you work on the features before you crow about it. As it stands, just as you did a year ago with the Obliterate feature, you are just setting your people up for failure. You have declared that you are going to implement new features that the Subversion committers that work for you already know cannot be solved in the near term. You have brought no new ideas to the table nor any idea how any of the known obstacles that have blocked these features will be overcome. To top it off you have attempted to slap a release date on it. Good luck with that.

I really hope that we implement some of the features in your list and it would be even better if we can get some of them done in 2011. Most of your list was already on the roadmap we published last year. Unfortunately, the way you are going about this is not going to help any of that happen and if we do have some success it will likely be in spite of your efforts not because of them.

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