Some comments on joining Jakarta (or not)
A longtime FreeMarker user, Leos Literak, asked on our mailing list about the possibility of our joining Jakarta/ASF. I figured that by answering on this blog rather than on the list, I could kill two birds with one stone -- I could answer him and inaugurate this blog with something (hopefully amusing) for people to read.
I guess Leos knows that such a move is highly unlikely, if only on account of the less than cordial relations that some of us have with some of the Jakarta/ASF people. But that is only part of it, at least speaking for myself. Other FreeMarker developers may not share my views (or share them partially with some nuances.) But in any case, I am only speaking for myself.
Okay, I shall assume that the reader is familiar with the Arthurian legends (you know, Camelot, Excalibur, the Round Table) through one or more of its literary, or more likely, cinematographic adaptations. Let us say that I am a knight of that time period, known for certain knightly deeds. It is proposed that I should try to become admitted to the Round Table, to become one of the famed Knights of the Round Table.
I have to admit that the idea has certain appealing aspects. You see, there is a whole mystique around the Round Table. This is mainly because there is a whole legion of wandering troubadours who go about the land singing epic songs about their heroic exploits. This has a lot of advantages. It seems that if you are a Knight of the Round Table, you are given the choicest morsels at feasts. When you show up somewhere, they break out the best wines and spirits to celebrate that such a hero is gracing their presence. The fairest maidens of the land fall at your feet.
So it would seem to be an easy decision. However, there is a dark side to all of this. You see, suppose that you happen to know that the Round Table mystique is based on quite little. On the contrary, these Knights of the Round Table are, in reality, quite the motley crew. Some are not such bad fellows, but many others are thugs and cutthroats and others are cowardly bullies. To your mind, King Arthur himself is no more admirable than any other mafia boss trying to expand his territory. (As a side note, while I grant that I was not there, this version of things strikes me as being at least as likely to be true as the legends.)
Suppose that I don't accept Arthur as a legitimate king. (For example, I happen to know for a fact that when he pulled the sword out of the stone, it was a cheap sleight of hand trick.) However, to become a Knight of the Round Table, I must kneel before him and accept him as my sovereign. I will probably also have to retract any prior statements I made about the supposed exploits of the Knights of the Round Table. I would now have to toe the party line (sorry for the mixed metaphors...) regarding the heroic exploits of my colleagues of the Round Table. (Actually, for an example of this, see here.)
Well, in summary, like any decision it would have its pros and cons to weigh. The pros mainly involve all the troubadours wandering about singing your praises. (I guess the modern equivalent is all the computer magazines and the various people who write O'Reilly books about any load of horse manure that ASF tosses over the fence...) The cons involve compromising one's integrity by accepting illegitimate authority, and also having to be nice and behave respectfully to people you don't particularly like or respect.
I guess the reader has already inferred that, for me, given my characterological makeup, the cons outweigh the pros -- to an extent that it is basically unthinkable.
All of that said, I can respect that other people would see things differently. Certainly, many other open source projects are extremely eager to become ASF projects and I can respect their reasons. It may well be a weakness of overweened pride on my part that I am not willing to kowtow to authority that I perceive to be illegitimate. It certainly is not particularly pragmatic.