where to go from here...get the PSF proposal right!

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where to go from here...get the PSF proposal right!

Walter Chang-2
Thanks paul and ray for your comments!

Ray:
It takes an interesting combination of skill sets (javacc, lexer) to
be able to get going on jython development (if we want to understand
how to do the python grammar stuff)

I ask for a roadmap, becuase we were a bit half hearted in our jvm 1.5
integration.

I understand 2.2a works, but our production quality version 2.1 has
issues with it (I know samuel reluctantly compiled a 2.1 jdk1.5
jar....but didn't do anything to the source)

It's hard to get a "alpha" into a production environment at a
financial institution

Product managers at financial institutions don't necessary dislike
OSS, just ones that don't seem active.  This is food for thought...why
do people constantly ask if we're stalled???

We would like to see what the jython leads have to say before we
"jump" in to working on the code.

Paul:

I was hoping that Frank, Sean, Sameul, Oti and gang would have been
able to give some more concrete feed back....they are the leadership
of thiis project no?

If resources are required, I'll see what part my group can play in this....

However it is VERY hard to get a financial institution directly
involved with a OSS that they did not concieve of in the
beginning...I'm not saying that it's impossible though. Contributing
through a vendor for example is something we've done in the past...we
could see if we could get guys from bea or ibm involved.

Frankly I'm surprised why IBM and BEA haven't gotten involved
aready...(jython 2.1 is bundled with their app server product i
think...)

In any case, that's something to worry about after we sort out things
like deliverables, accountablility, metrics, expectation
management...etc...etc...

jython users have queued up an impressive list of requirements, that
should have a timeline, ownership,priority and a delivery date for
this stuff...

I would post on the DEV userlist but that seems to be a bit less
active, and I want to bring these issues to the attention of all
Jython users as well...if you guys feel that I shouldn't be posting
here I'll stop.

The fact remains that we have a PSF grant that we failed to
execute....so money is not the big issue yet (it's always an
issue...even for us :-)

If our original proposal was off, we should correct it and see about
getting a better quote for hours/dev time.

Then publish it and get going...we have a really good product that I
believe is way ahead of the game when compared to groovy, beanshell,
jruby...but for widespread adopment we have a long way to go...

P.S. is 50k even enough to get us to 2.4.2 ?  we should think hard and
long about what 2.4.X means before we say "yes"

Regards,
Walter








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Re: where to go from here...get the PSF proposal right!

Paul D. Fernhout
Walter Chang wrote:
 > [snip]

> The fact remains that we have a PSF grant that we failed to
> execute....so money is not the big issue yet (it's always an
> issue...even for us :-)
>
> If our original proposal was off, we should correct it and see about
> getting a better quote for hours/dev time.
>
> Then publish it and get going...we have a really good product that I
> believe is way ahead of the game when compared to groovy, beanshell,
> jruby...but for widespread adopment we have a long way to go...
>
> P.S. is 50k even enough to get us to 2.4.2 ?  we should think hard and
> long about what 2.4.X means before we say "yes"

You raise a lot of great issues.

I feel the original grant proposal was ambitious for the funds as far as
covering all of the development; at best that small amount of money is
just defraying part of the cost. In that sort of  situation, the risk is
higher things won't get done if other stuff comes up in the developer's
life. I would think the work outlined (plus the implicit work of testing,
communicating, etc.) was closer to a year full-time, and $10K or whatever
was just a small fraction of that. Now don't get me wrong; I think it was
a good grant to give, a good choice of person, and the PSF made an
excellent overall strategic choice (and I say that as one who had a
rejected grant proposal on a Delphi->Python conversion tool, the PSF
choice was better). So it was a good risk to take. It did not pay off
completely, but it certainly got progress in a strategic area more than
proportionate to the investment, so it was worth it for PSF grant dollars
as it did "move Jython forward".

But here is the bigger risk in any sort of small grant or paid work -- and
it is exactly what you are outlining -- there arises the expectation
someone is being paid to be responsible for the whole project. Now that is
fine if you have a situation like Guido or others for mainline Python --
full time jobs at research institute. But for small amounts of money,
unless the person is already the originator of the project and heavily
invested in it (e.g. Robin Dunn and wxPython), the level of ongoing
support you are going to get is more questionable in such situations.
Further, putting money on the table may have the psychological
disadvantage of discouraging other people for various reasons. So in this
sense, the Jython grant, like any small such grant, may have had some
negative community effects. This is less of a problem when supporting
standalone projects that are just hurdles to get over, as opposed to in
this case a large effort that needs continual involvement if it is to
track the mainline of Python. Overall, I still think it was a good grant,
and a good direction for PSF funds, I'm just pointing out how the
potential negatives link into the current situation so we can go forward
with it.

I think one of the other issues with the Jython project in particular is
that using Java as a free software platform is questionable in the minds
of a lot of open source / free software developers. Google on "The Java
Trap" for example.
   http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/java-trap.html
Obviously Java is now, after many years of development, finally a stable
enough platform for commercial use, but it remains a gray area as far as
having truly open source versions which are complete and easy to use (e.g.
GNU class path is incomplete, Sun's Java isn't trivial to install on
Debian or some other distributions because of licensing issues, etc.). So
Jython, being on Java, is just not going to attract the same level of free
dedication as Python on C/Unix. The same issue comes up in level of free
software support for MS Windows vs. GNU/Linux. Jython is in that sense a
more "commercial" oriented product than Python, because Java is a more
commercial platform because of Sun's strategy than C/wxWindows/etc. So
perhaps it is not unreasonable to think Jython's development and support
might have more issues to work out because of all that, and more
commercial support of it might be needed.

Here is a  a personal example of making such a choice from a free software
perspective. I have finally made a rudimentary Delphi->Python translator
to translate a few free Delphi projects we have (using ANTLR and a Delphi
grammar I cobbled together, and still requiring significant hand tweaking
afterwards related to GUI issues, etc., etc.), with some support for
generating a Jython GUI from Delphi GUI specifications. But, I am still
debating in my mind whether to use the code the translator outputs for
Jython by beginning the hand fix up the output, or to instead make some
minor alterations to the translator to instead output plain Python and
target wxWindows. Why? My wondering is on the ground that there might be
more developers willing to support a Python/wxWindows result and that it
would be easier for the average end user to install a Python version than
expecting them to have the right version of Java, the right set up with
their classpath, and so on. On the other hand, I can also ask, where will
the GNU classpath project be in a year or two, or will Sun finally truly
open up Java? If these were commercial projects I was translating at this
point, sticking with Jython would be an easy choice, but the free nature
of the projects makes it more questionable. Anyway, so while not exactly
the same as your situation, there is similar frustration there -- Jython
is really neat, but Java solutions don't have the same level of free
software / open source support that C or plain Python do. Still if you
*must* use Java (especially in an enterprise situation), then Jython
obviously is the best game in town, but then, you still have the
frustration about the level of free support for a project built
essentially on a commercial platform. In that sense though, you could
argue the cost of supporting Jython development as a business expense is
really built into the choice of Java as a platform more than it is built
into the choice of Jython (which is a no-brainer IMHO if your on a Java
platform. :-)

Also, it seems that enthusiastic cutting-edge Python development has been
moving to the PyPy model (writing Python in a subset of Python and then
translating it to C or whatever).
   http://codespeak.net/pypy/dist/pypy/doc/news.html
Squeak Smalltalk does something similar with great success.
   http://minnow.cc.gatech.edu/squeak/2267
So it would seem that the future of any Python system on another platform
might lie more in that area, than in just maintaining a separate codebase.
If I like Jython because it hides Java, it's sad to then have to to
wrestle with wading through endlessly verbose and repetitive and
inconsistently indented Java to improve Jython (not intended as a slight
on the Jython codebase, just a slight on Java :-). Not that one can't do
it -- it's just not that much fun. :-( A PyPy->Java solution might
eliminate most of that issue of having to write and maintain much Java.
Obviously there would remain some Java specific to the project, and there
would be new PyPy ones I'm sure, but a lot of maintenance headaches in
tracking CPython might just go away, and PyPy might also benefit from the
extra attention. On the other hand, supporting PyPy and translation
requires a different and more abstract mindset, which might reduce the
number of developers who could work on the codebase. (One could also use a
python grammar and something like ANTLR to generate either C or Java to
produce some commonality as another approach,
   http://www.cs.usfca.edu/~parrt/course/652/labs/python.html
but PyPy really has the momentum behind it).

On a practical basis, I think there are other Jython issues related to
ambition. Jython still targets lesser VMs for 2.2/2.3/2.4. Personally, I
think 1.4 is the least a future version of mainline Jython should target,
given limited community resources, and one could make a good argument for
just supporting Java 1.5 (i.e. if Jython is wedded to Java, just live with
Sun's issues). Obviously 2.1 could be maintained for lesser JVMs. A big
issue here is simply testing on multiple platforms and dealing with buggy
older JVMs, not taking advantage of language features.

So, is $50K enough to get to 2.4.2? I don't know. It's probably enough to
get a semi-volunteer in the US to spent a year full-time on Jython getting
it as far as possible. (I know I'd be tempted, but frankly there are
probably better choices from the people already maintaining Jython, plus
offshoring would probably get two or three developers for that. :-). What
that year of such effort would result in would be more questionable, but I
would think 2.4.2 (plus XML & threads etc.) would be a reasonable target,
perhaps even for just half that effort. But, as I pointed out, there is
this new tension with PyPy becoming of growing importance, and it might
even possibly make more sense and be less work overall to just augment
PyPy to spit out Java and do some glue work for that than to try to
maintain and upgrade a pure Java codebase. (Now that's the kind of thing
someone like myself would get really excited over. :-) I'm not saying that
PyPy approach does make short-term sense (because I haven't spent much
time with either PyPy or all the intricacies of the Jython codebase), and
it also would be more risky in some sense compared to patching an existing
codebase, just that it is an issue to explore, as it has the potential to
greatly reduce the maintenance overhead of Jython, as well as simply being
more fun (an important factor in open source / free software).

Anyway, that's just my two cents from the sidelines; I'm sure other people
would have better informed opinions on this.

--Paul Fernhout














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Re: where to go from here...get the PSF proposal right!

Andrew Jackson-2
In reply to this post by Walter Chang-2
Walter Chang wrote:

<snip>

>This is food for thought...why
>do people constantly ask if we're stalled???
>  
>

I'm pretty new to Jython and have only been using it briefly, but this
is one part of the discussion i can actually give feedback on because,
before i was subscribed to this list, i also thought Jython had
generally stalled.  Here are three big reasons that gave me that impression:

1) the sourceforge download shows the last release for last July.
2) the documentation is sparse in places where you'd expect full,
dev-friendly docs.  For example, many of the javadoc pages have no
information on major objects/calls -- and i'm just off the top of my
head thinking of some key objects that are central to Jython:
PythonInterpreter, InteractiveConsole, the static initialization methods.
3) The webpage seems to not have been touched -- not even a "the
activity is all on the mailing list" post -- since the last release.  
The last "Jython news" is dated 16 july, 2005, and there's a note on the
download page about nightly cvs source dated 2003!

Anyway, since i've subscribed to this list, it's been quite obvious that
the dev community here is quite active, but that's not shown in the
places you'd expect to see signs of activity.

Hope this helps, as i become more experienced with jython maybe i can
jump in and start answering questions & doing dev myself :)

Thanks,
Andrew Jackson
Bioacoustics Research Program,
Cornell Lab of Ornithology


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re: where to go from here...get the PSF proposal right!

Sean McGrath
In reply to this post by Walter Chang-2
[Walter Chang]

>I was hoping that Frank, Sean, Sameul, Oti and gang would have been
>able to give some more concrete feed back....they are the leadership
>of thiis project no?

My lack of contribution to the Jython effort compared to the endless hours (weeks!) it has saved me in my day-job is a constant source of embarrassment for me.

Somebody recently made the point that Jython gets a sort of commercial twang by virtue of its association with Java. I think this is true and can be leveraged. If we could just get a Sun or IBM or a BEA or a Nokia to donate - not cash - but developer time - to Jython I think that would be a great way forward.

We are a small company compared to the Sun's, IBM's, BEA's or Nokia's of this world but I would hope that we too would be able to contribute along these lines. To make such a contribution of paid-for developer time, I need to make a case and answer the inevitable question "who else is involved and helping out in this way?". I would love to answer with some well known company names.

I guess what I'm saying is that what Jython badly needs is one or two high-visibility donors of developer time. Donors sufficiently well-known to attract other donors of similar size and smaller.

My 2 Cents,
Sean




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Re: where to go from here...get the PSF proposal right!

Leo User
In reply to this post by Andrew Jackson-2
Has anyone ever thought about moving Jython to
java.net and advertising for workers?  Ive seen
projects over there do that.  Im not sure of the
success that tactic would have.  I think it would help
give jython some more visibility to the Java crowd.
Right now, Im not sure how folks find out about
Jython.

leouser

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Re: re: where to go from here...get the PSF proposal right!

fwierzbicki@gmail.com
In reply to this post by Sean McGrath
> Somebody recently made the point that Jython gets a sort of commercial twang by virtue of its association with Java. I think this is true and can be leveraged. If we could just get a Sun or IBM or a BEA or a Nokia to donate - not cash - but developer time - to Jython I think that would be a great way forward.

Although not as big as the others, RedHat (I believe) has already done
some work on the GCJ side to make the GCJ/Classpath stack more
friendly to Jython 2.1.  They might be willing to lend some developer
time to Jython itself, who knows?


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re: where to go from here...get the PSF proposal right!

Walter Chang-2
In reply to this post by Walter Chang-2
Hi Sean/Frank,

these are all excellent leads for vendor sponsership funding we can
follow up with once we have established a good game plan that
acurrately reflects our resouces...

My company is a big customer of big names you guys just mentioned :)
...I'm sure we could see if something could be worked out.

some big projects like spring framework and apache tomcat are part of
our fimwide OSS stack so we are very actively involved with companies
like jboss and interface 21....

We could even implore some of those guys to help out...but we need a
plan in granular detail before they'll take jython seriously...

May I suggest someing CMMi'sh (waterfall perhaps?? ) or even Scrum??
(my personal favorite)
:)

Regards,
Walter

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of work not done--is essential.
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