August 20, 2002
Forrest: Maven plugin

Forrest is an awful project. You start out dispassionately criticising it on a weblog, but people respond so reasonably and encouragingly on the list that you find yourself sucked into helping ;)

Some good discussion was had on forrest-dev following my rant. See threads here and here. It turns out that forrestbot can be used to build new projects. While this is more a side-effect than it's original intention, it's better than nothing. A page describing how to use forrestbot in a new project has been added.

I also wrote a script, acorn.xml, which can be used to bootstrap a project's use of Forrest.

Based on this, I'm now working on a Maven Forrest plugin. I've got a basic version working by simply wrapping acorn.xml. The hope is that it's possible to have one Ant script, used for invoking Forrest from the command-line, and then both Centipede and Maven can provide wrappers around this script.

I hope to have this working in the next few days, and then get back to Anteater.


Posted by jefft at 05:24 PM
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 06:16 PM
August 12, 2002
Cococon article Mentioned on the cocoon lists; an interview with Stefano:

Heh.. and I'm sharing blogspace with the guy who put the + in MVC+, and made Cocoon 2.1 truly innovative :)


Posted by jefft at 11:10 PM
August 08, 2002
A brief bio

Wahay! A blog of My Very Own, thanks to Ovidiu.. let me see.. how does one link.. Ovidiu's weblog.

Who am I anyway? I was born in South Africa 23 years ago, emigrated to Australia 5 years ago, did a comp sci degree at Sydney Uni, and am now working as a Java programmer. When not coding, I'm usually reading, mostly in the closely related subjects of science fiction, fantasy and theology. Favourite authors include Greg Egan (modern SF), Terry Pratchett, discworld, Dicworld author, and (though not recently) Douglas Hofstadter (Metamagical Themas; Godel, Escher, Bach), and C.S. Lewis, a brilliant theologian.

In computing, I seem to spend an awful lot of time reading Jakarta mailing lists, wherein lurk a whole bunch of interesting and clever people who spend their time writing open source Java code. Cool. I've gotten somewhat involved, and ended up a committer in the Avalon and Commons projects.

I have an unnatural fascination with XML, ever since my introduction to it in late 1999 when I worked on an XML database at University. I'd recommend subscribing to the XML-DEV mailing list, which is like listening in on a tea party from Alice in Wonderland, but very educational anyway. One of the more interesting projects involving XML is Apache Cocoon, on whose lists I've lurked for about 2 years. Cocoon has become rather top-heavy, and forXP'ers, it's no longer "the simplest thing that can possibly work", but it's fun nonetheless.

I'm currently working on the Anteater project, about which I'm also meant to be writing a chapter of a book entitled "Extreme XML: Cocoon, and somethingorother", along with Ivelin Ivanov, Ugo Cei and Nicola Ken Barozzi.

Which reminds me, I ought to get some real work done..


Posted by jefft at 12:37 PM