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NeoOffice - Alone Advancing The Mac Community
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Feb 6, 2005, 02:30 PM
The following was an exchange between me and NeoOffice co-developer Edward H. Peterlin:


Posted: Sun Feb 06, 2005 8:07 (on NeoOffice Forum http://trinity.neooffice.org/)

Post subject: Enlisting Able (but unwilling?) Help For NeoOffice Programming


I'm going to show how naive I am here since all my non-programmer expertise can offer NeoOffice is a couple of strapped bucks, but with all the half-idle Mac shareware and freeware writers there are out there, can't they be recruited to help Ed and Patrick out? Maybe a token gift like a Sun sweatshirt or baseball cap to entice them over? When I see Mac share/freeware authors valiantly spinning wheels on fine but on life-support efforts like iCab, these guys ought be lending that sweat and talent to a project that benefits the Mac masses, not merely a tiny niche.

At city and community colleges all over this nation there's new and seasoned talent just lolling around waiting to have their name emblazoned in the credits of a major software project (can you spell resume fodder?), and I can't imagine too many mega-projects with OpenOffice's stature outside writing Space Shuttle code. Can't this request be broadcasted on MacAddict and MacWorld and others Mac fan organs? (I'm REALLY disappointed by the tepid support the Mac mags have given NeoOffice. I guess they believe AppleWorks works well enough for Mac people - I mean REAL serious people use non-grade school grade MS Office, right?) Whatever happened to this famous Mac sense of maverick community and charity?

I just can't understand why Ed and Patrick seem to be the only ones toiling over code on a project that benefits the Mac universe far more than AppleWorks or iWorks or whatever lame suite effort Apple cranks out! When I glance reviews of people actually carping over NeoO's features and (beta!) maturity, I just have to shake my head in scorn and wonder if these malcontents ever heard the phrase of looking a gift horse in the mouth!

Okay, yanked off the soapbox...

James Greenidge


The One (Edward H. Peterlin, NeoOffice co-developer, NeoOffice.org)

Posted: Sun Feb 06, 2005 2:26
Post subject: Enlisting Able (but unwilling?) Help For NeoOffice Programming

If you can think of any good way to get programmers interested in helping the project out, by all means please do I tried for many years at conferences like WWDC even, but thus far not too many have jumped onboard to help.

For what it's worth, one of the major turnoffs for most Mac developers it seems is that we're not using standard Apple tools or technologies for the development. A lot of developers have come on through and stated they'd love to help if they could design things in Interface Builder, but then they find out we don't do that and leave. So I guess from a developer point of view it takes a lot of patience or it takes trying to find one of those Linux-convert style developers that are already familiar with the command line tools and don't mind working without the Apple GUI tools.

I'm not sure if that information can help you start to develop any ideas...but one of the fundamental problems in recruiting for Neo are the same as recruiting for OOo X11: so many people want to do "Aqua" design and redo the interface but very few want to do the much more difficult task of maintenance and infrastructure development that's required to get us there.

I'm sure some developers are also put off by the way we handle "introducing" them to the project and the code. In general, we don't have the human bandwidth to handhold a lot of people through the initial building and debugging process. This is pretty thick stuff, and historically the "throw them in and let them swim" approach has kind of helped do a self-screening to let only dedicated developers with good skills through...and who also don't mind a little frustration along the way.

Anyway, if you can get any additional ideas please let me know. WWDC has proven to be the most successful developer "mindshare" place I've gone to. While we may not always find more core developers, we definitely build mindshare and get other developers aware of an alternative office solution. We get a decent bit of database developers, solutions integrators, systems administrators, and the like interested in the product. That's always good.

Devin Lane
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Feb 6, 2005, 08:30 PM
An interesting way off trying to get more programmers to help you. Perhaps it's time to try a different strategy?

What kind of maintenance and infrastructure development are necessary before the gui can be fixed?
-- Devin Lane, Cocoa Programmer
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Feb 6, 2005, 11:15 PM
I believe, to some degree, with the post. Unix was almost killed by the fissures and fractures within the community that arose when companys began to develop their own, seperate Unix-based OS. Unix was revived thanks to the open software movement. (Read "The Art of Unix Programming" by Eric S. Raymond.) Why? Open software creates a nurturing environment for individuals. The forces of economics are not dominant; the forces of all contributing developers' intellectual and creativity dominate. Developers can learn from the source code of other programs. Within the Mac hobbyist world, we can greatly improve the health of the community by placing more emphasis on open software. True, we all would like to make some money, but by making software open, we are contributing to the community something more important than economical compensation: our intellectual and creative powers. If more Mac developers made their software open, our Mac development world would be far more enriched. Again, I'd recommend people to read "The Art of Unix Programming," as it contains a refreshing look at software, not specifically to the Unix tradition.
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Feb 7, 2005, 01:09 PM
If more Mac developers made their software open, our Mac development world would be far more enriched.
I just want to chime in - I read statements like that all of the time, but I've yet to read what that means. Enriched, how? We'd have better tools? We'd have more software?

The comment about not being able to use Interface Builder hits the nail on the head. Mac programmers want to make Mac apps - that's why they chose to develop for the Mac. They don't want to make UNIX apps. UNIX and open source is rich with functionality and titles, but very few, if any, sport the interface expected from Mac users.

Also, I've never read as to what is expected of a volunteer? Four hours/week? Six? Many work on their own stuff in sporadic intervals. They don't want deadlines imposed by others - they want it to be fun and work on it when they want.

But, if you really want to recruit - hit the Universities. Stress that novices are welcome too. Tell them what to expect. Look for Linux converts to MacOS X. I'm sure you can find some there. But as for experienced MacOS developers, it will be a challenge.
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