Wahhhh, don't let it die!! :'(
December 29, 2005 8:48 AM   Subscribe

How do I convince someone to fully "hand over" (to the public, not to me specificallY) a now dead, open source but not totally "open licensed" project. Furthermore, how do I find people who might want to work on its revival?

At my old job, we developed a programming language in-house. I grew to love it and I can't stand looking at PHP and the like. It's tag based, it's got some slick features, and its code can look very pretty (to web folk, anyway). The web development firm has given up on the language and bacome mostly a PHP shop at this point.

My old boss is kind of a possessive, hardnosed businessman type, so even though the project is pretty much dead at this point, I don't feel he'll just open the doors and say "ok, someone else can have this and manage it" for fear that some day it will wake up and be a cash cow or something and no longer be just his. I would probably have this same irrational paranoia, so I can't really fault him for this.

He wrote up his own legal terminology for a custom license "based on" the GPL, and included it in the code. It can be seen here.

1) How do I convince him to "hand it over", so to speak, to the public? Do I even need to do this to have someone else start developing it and releasing new versions?

2) What's a good place to find programmers who might be interested in continuing the development of a web scripting language? It seems difficult in this day and age since PHP exists already, and Ruby on Rails is The New Black (tm).

I really don't want to see this language die. It's coldfusion-esque in its syntax (a tag based scripting language), and has a lot of great features. The documentation on the site doesn't really do it justice, but it can be seen here... (this would have been a somewhat-self link 2 years ago, but shouldn't be one now, technically)

I have a specific idea of the one thing I'd like a programmer to add, but no motivation to add it myself because my C coding skills have fallen by the wayside since I've been more of a web developer for the last several years.

I'd also love to see this language take off, as it's free, easy as hell to learn (and easy for HTML-using graphic designers to design around - they can even understand the code!) and just a general pleasure to code in. If anyone is interested in code samples beyond what's documented on the site (i.e. something actually functional/useful), let me know and I can either post them here or email them.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.
posted by twiggy to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
A former co-worker of mine wrote this paper: "The Business of Open-Source Software." It's a few years old but has a lot of great info.
posted by camworld at 9:51 AM on December 29, 2005

The guy is posessive, so play on his ego. Do some research on Perl and Larry Wall, Richard Stallman, and other big ego open source people. Pitch opening the language up as your bosses opportunity to be a big man in the Open Source world. If he goes with the GPL, more people are likely to look at it. He can manage the introduction of new patches to the authorative code base, and retain his position as the creator of the language.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:00 AM on December 29, 2005

What is preventing the modifications you'd like to see? Is there something in the license terms that restricts these kinds of modifications? Or is it simply that there is no public code repository?

In other words, what are you trying to convince your old boss to do: change the license or post the source? Or both?
posted by jjg at 10:02 AM on December 29, 2005

Are there other people who have an affection for the language that also have the skills to maintain and extend the code base? Or, barring that, is there a large enough base of users that there is enough glory, and perhaps a bit of money, to entice someone with the skills?

Without that, it wouldn't seem to matter much whether or not you could get your former employer to release the source under a suitable license, nor would it seem that there was enough glory in it for your former employer to invest effort in something that he's already pulled the plug on.
posted by Good Brain at 10:45 AM on December 29, 2005

Good Brain: Sadly, nobody really knows about it because we didn't promote it very much. We mostly just used it internally.

jjg: Nothing is preventing the modifications at all. However, I'd really like to see the language take off and see what other people do with it. That itself is sort of stifled by the ownership issue.

The more I read the license, the more I think it's pretty damn open for anyone to do whatever they want, and redistribute however they want as long as they do not remove the comments/references to the company that wrote it.

I guess my bigger concerns are:

a) finding a programmer who would help with it

b) convincing the old boss to let someone "manage/own" big changes to the "official" version of the code. Though I suppose it could always be released as RACE-[someguysname] version, or something like that.
posted by twiggy at 11:34 AM on December 29, 2005

Though I suppose it could always be released as RACE-[someguysname] version, or something like that.

Cf. Minix and Linux? (And then RedHat Linux, Mandrake Linux, et. al.)

And I don't even know Latin!
posted by SuperNova at 9:09 PM on December 29, 2005

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