The Apache Software Foundation Blog

Monday January 03, 2011

Apache Subversion to WANdisco: +1 on the code contributions, -1 on the attitude.

In light of some recent press releases and blog posts from WANdisco ([1][2][3]), the Apache Subversion project would like to clarify that WANdisco, Inc participates in Subversion development under the same terms as any other organization.

Those wishing to verify this may prefer to use the project's public mailing lists and change logs as primary sources, rather than WANdisco's press releases.

Below are some of our specific concerns. We look forward to WANdisco's continued participation in improving Subversion, and emphasize that WANdisco's corporate statements do not reflect on our valued developers who happen to be employed there.

  • WANdisco CEO David Richards claims without evidence that bogus changes are being committed to the master tree. He wrote: "We ... believe it's unhelpful when certain unscrupulous committers decide to commit trivial changes in large files to simply get their stats up. That behavior has no place in any open source project; it's a bad form [sic] and wastes everyone's valuable time."

    We are unaware of any such behavior among the Subversion maintainers. Our repository logs are always open for public inspection, yet when asked to show evidence, Richards refused.

  • The first part of [1] would indicate to most readers that WANdisco was involved in the creation of Subversion; only if the reader were to persist for another six paragraphs would they finally encounter a disclaimer to the contrary. [3] has similar problems.

    WANdisco was not involved in the creation of Subversion. The Subversion open source project was started in 2000 by CollabNet, Inc. WANdisco's involvement started in 2008, when it began employing Subversion committers, all of whom had prior history with the project. Subversion became part of the Apache Software Foundation in 2009. (CollabNet continues to participate in Subversion development to this day, on the same terms as all the other individuals and companies who undertake or fund development work.)

  • The Subversion development team is already working towards the enhancements that WANdisco inexplicably portrays ([2], [3]) as bold, controversial steps that must be pushed through in the face of (conveniently unnamed) opposition. WANdisco participates in Subversion development along with many parties, and the Subversion project has always welcomed WANdisco's contributions. However, WANdisco alleges that some entities want to impede technical enhancements; at the same time, WANdisco also implies that it is the corporate leader of the project.

    Neither is true. Since WANdisco does not cite any sources for their specific claims, we cannot explain them. However, a bedrock condition of participation in Apache Subversion is that an individual contributor can have discussions, submit patches, review patches, and so forth, but that companies do not have a formal role. Instead, companies get involved by funding individuals to work on the project. WANdisco's false implication that it is in some kind of steering position in Subversion development discredits the efforts of other contributors and companies.

In conclusion, we reiterate that we welcome WANdisco's involvement in Subversion, and failure on WANdisco's part to address the above concerns will have no effect on the acceptance of technical work funded by WANdisco. We simply felt it necessary to clarify WANdisco's role in Apache Subversion, for the benefit of our users and potential contributors.

# # # 


Apparently comments are limited to 1000 characters so I posted my comments in a blog post:

Posted by Mark Phippard on January 03, 2011 at 05:46 PM GMT #

Corporations typically have different requirements than open source projects. While that could be reasonably applied to the centralized vs. distributed version control debate, it applies doubly to companies supporting open source projects. How a company supports an open source project is a very new, and frequently perilous, etiquette. I was impressed by the tact in the response from the Apache Foundation. More than one company is funding developers working on subversion in addition to those doing it gratis. For the funded, each commit to the project serves both share holder value and altruism, so perhaps the narrative around this could be construed as competitive enthusiasm. The project is richer for all efforts inclusive.

Posted by Ian Burns on January 03, 2011 at 09:55 PM GMT #

Fully responded to each point here:

Posted by David Richards on January 04, 2011 at 01:28 AM GMT #

Most impressed by such a tactful, grownup and gentle reply. Thanks Apache - for providing us with a stable open source bedrock. Not only for code - but also, and perhaps more important, for governance. Pb.

Posted by Peter Burns on January 04, 2011 at 09:20 AM GMT #

I'm done. I was getting heavily involved with Subversion and was getting kinda excited about it. Not anymore. This is a joke David. You don't address anything you said and have only served to instill a rift between the community and your company. But you know, hey, whatever gets your shareholders off your back. You've insulted the community, including defaming very excellent devs, for what? Are you twelve? I'm going to apply my "useless" time answering mailing lists somewhere else. Have fun getting your foot out of your mouth, which I'm sure you'll get around to doing because that's what your paid for. You should be fired by your board.

Posted by on January 04, 2011 at 11:08 AM GMT #

Stupid 1000 char limit!!! To "", your angry rhetoric seems way over the top to me, a long-time user of CVS, SVN, BZR and other SCMs. tl;dr: Based upon the collective and individual ("") responses, I actually wish *someone* wish vision, talent and time (like David's corp) would just go ahead and fork the publicly as possible. Full response:

Posted by Theodore R. Smith on January 04, 2011 at 05:39 PM GMT #

Don't despair, "" and Theodore R. Smith: give the Apache tact a bit of time, to see if it can reform the aberration. It's definitely true that WANdisco patronage has enabled some fine Subversion committers to get more good work done, that's all good. Their venture into planning on behalf of the community was a bit botched (customer meetings without community involvement, for example), and the PR was ... well ... PR ... But the whole point of The Apache Way, validated by the Apache history, is that graciously extended room to more fully join the community is more effective than inflammatory combat. The Foundation has reminded us all of where the lines are. Dave has responded with at least some recognition of the offensive tone. The best of all possible outcomes would be for WANdisco to continue their recent journey into the community in truth. The best of all strategies for reaching that outcome is probably a bit more of The Apache Way.

Posted by Jack Repenning on January 04, 2011 at 06:17 PM GMT #

And while two open source companies have their little fight over this and that, REAL open source projects are making headway in producing crops without light, developing methods to produce large amounts of food with very little resources, and generally improving the life of mankind on this planet. WANDisco and Subversion, not only are you doing it wrong but you're doing it in a method embarrassing to the open source community. I'm ashamed. You're BOTH acting like a bunch of argumentative children.

Posted by Alex McQuown on January 04, 2011 at 10:15 PM GMT #

Oh, my. I'm an old Subversion implementer, and submit patches occastionally (not all of which are accepted!). The idea that open source projects do not have fights, some of them public, is not borne out by my experience or the history of other major projects. Good luck to WANDisco improving merges and improving sitewide management. I'll believe it when I see it. Those were *not* in the original design, and will be painful to implement.

Posted by Nico Kadel-Garcia on January 05, 2011 at 03:12 AM GMT #

Unfortunately following Subversion there are other companies with bad attitude AND bad or wrong form of contributions, too. Take the "official" Eclipse project named "Subversive" by a company called Polarion. It is totally incompatible with any other SVN clients like Tortoise, etc. and makes working in teams beyond 2 or 3 people impossible. No wonder, as most evidence (not checking the SVN logs at, but feel free to do so ;-) and whitnesses online confirm, there are just one or two active committers to Subversive at all. Subclipse has become the "accepted" Eclipse plugin for Subversion, but unlike Subversion itself it doesn't seem maintained by the ASF, nor willing to join either.

Posted by Werner Keil on January 09, 2011 at 07:25 AM GMT #

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