August 16, 2002
Forrest rant: users come first

I spent most of today attempting to use Forrest in my own project, Anteater. It didn't go well. The Forrest site offers no introductory, "here's how you use Forrest in your own site" guide. It turns out this is no accident. The docs state:

Our first target is to create a consistent website, with a uniform, lightweight and easy to navigate layout and structure.

Now that's all very well and good, but how in hell do they think they're going to get contributors?

As I understand it, BSD-style OSS development is based on the principle of "enlightened self-interest". People don't primarily participate because they're chasing some ideological "free software" dream. They do it for mostly pragmatic reasons: they have an itch to scratch; they need whatever functionality the software provides. If they can help others by contributing back, great.

Now coming back to Forrest; your average potential contributor doesn't give a rat's ass about how the site looks. They care what their site looks like. The magic of OSS development is when effort expended towards selfish aims (improving ones own site) also results in improving other people's sites.

That is the golden principle which is so sorely missing in Forrest. Consequentially, the user community is composed of a few dedicated individuals who truly care about, and the project's goals are being met by the more lively, user-focused community formed around Apache Maven This is very sad.

Posted by jefft at August 16, 2002 06:16 PM

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