It’s amusing when people ask if something is technically possible, or “envision if you will” some concept, as though other people haven’t already envisioned or even coded a prototype or full solution. Let’s cut to the chase – envision if You will, paying for what you ask.
The most recent forum troll is for object-oriented BASIC, like it’s the first time this was ever conceived. There’s no need to simply envision the concepts. This is a standard feature in QM and Caché. Tools for this for other platforms have already been written over the years and then shelved. Ultimately it’s just complex string manipulation. OO for D3 was done over a decade ago by Mark Brown (former Pick Systems Manager of Continuing Engineer), and I suspect the same code could be ported to U2 and other platforms. Technically these things aren’t that much of a challenge, though of course the devil is in the details and doing it right does require dedicated effort and strong technical ability.
The problem that needs to be solved is not technical. There are no real technical issues with OO BASIC, web services, cross-DBMS exchanges, XML, mobile integration, GUI development, or many of the other things that people discuss in forums or which I’ve discussed at-length here in my blog.
The consistent pattern we see is that someone suggests that X should exist, but the underlying and unspoken condition (until sometime later) is that it should be free, and also open source. But in general, people don’t really give a hoot about “open source”, another topic recently discussed in the U2 forum. They just want “free” (as in beer) tools which someone else will support in their “free” time. “Open source” is just a convenient mechanism which guarantees that no software security mechanism is going to force payment. There are those in this MV DBMS community (yes, this comes up a lot from different people) who ask for software, as though we don’t know they’re going to lead to “open source”, and then they sing the praises of FOSS, as tough we don’t know they’re still just talking about “free”. Who is fooling who?
FOSS is a good model but it’s seriously abused, and that leads to abuse of the people who provide it. If it’s free then it’s worthless, or so goes the perception, and so is the time of the people who provide the code, documentation, patches, and forum time for Q&A. Similarly, Pick BASIC and the MV DBMS model are so easy to use that there is a widespread belief that related tools are simplistic and therefore have no real value. As a result, few people in this market will pay for tools. If there is perceived value, the concept seems to be a one-way street, where value comes to the consumer but nothing of value goes back to the developer. This is why so many “valuable” tools never move past the author’s desk – and then many sites leave this market thinking that tools available elsewhere don’t exist here.
I can understand that Pick developers like to fly under the radar at their company. They don’t want to make waves, asking for a budget from their management, because that will just draw attention. Attention is bad because people start asking questions about the technology – and why we’re using this solution instead of that one. So keeping in mind that the Pick platform is supposed to be low-cost (largely a myth these days given competitive DBMS pricing) and that it’s so cheap and easy to write BASIC code (sure, still generally true), Pick people tend to want to avoid spending any money if at all possible. The problem with this paradigm is that eventually management does start asking questions anyway, and when they find out the solutions easily available in the “mainstream” world are not available in the Pick world, Pick gets chucked anyway. In the effort to keep a low profile and keep their jobs, Pick people ultimately provoke the very situation they’re trying to avoid. If they had only positioned the MV DBMS as right on par with everything else, with the benefits and needs, the same add-on tools and related expenses, just vastly easier to develop and support, a lot of people might still be writing Pick BASIC today.
The real challenge is not in providing the technical solution of the week. It’s keeping developers alive so that they can continue to provide what other people want – the kind of tools that help them to do their jobs and position the MV DBMS as just another platform.
To solve that problem we need to correct widespread misunderstandings of the FOSS model, as well as reversing a generally accepted devaluation of programmers – a goal which one would think would be important in this community.
If you’re still interested in reading more of what I’ve written on this topic, I welcome you to read other articles related to this topic:
The price for “simple” – discusses how people seem to think less of software when it does more for us.