Re: [xsl] Re: What is the future of XSL-FO

Subject: Re: [xsl] Re: What is the future of XSL-FO
From: "Kurt Cagle" <kurt@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2004 17:52:39 -0800

This argument is valid, but I wish to discuss the other side of this
argument as well, especially as it relates to XSL-FO. What is being sold
here, the software or the expertise of the creators of the software? Most
code that is written is done to solve a particular task or problem.
Typically a programmer does not in fact reinvent everything from the ground
up. Instead, he or she uses tools and other resources to adapt existing code
to new uses. Except in very rare circumstances, this code is not likely
created in-house - as you say, it is not at all feasible for each person to
create an entirely new operating system every time they want to build an
accounting package.
In certain cases (where the code is in fact a product being sold) there is a
possibility that the programmer will be compensated in accordance to their
contributions, but in point of fact, for every dollar that an arbitrary
programmer generates in revenue, he or she will likely see only 10ths of
pennies (or Yen) in return. A much larger proportion of the returns end up
going to the stockholders who have invested money into the company, or to
the senior management who often (at least in America) receive a
disproportionate share of the company revenues.  In other words, it is far
more likely that the actual creators of the products will not be rewarded
proportionate to their creative skills under the existing proprietary
product model.
Moreover, such a model also tends to stifle creativity, because the code
that is then created is treated as property that can be bought or sold.
Rather than sharing the foundation of this code for other people to
elaborate upon, the code is stored away in vaults. Innovation suffers as a
consequence, because everyone ends up rediscovering the wheel in often
incompatible ways.
Now, let's apply this to XSL-FO, and the distinction between Antenna House
and FOP. Antenna House is a superb FO renderer, one of the best on the
planet. Yet FO by itself is not a widely used final format, but instead has
become a de facto intermediate format on the way to other things -- PDF,
Word, and so forth. The principle reason for this is because FO is too
complex to use compared to HTML, while at the same time too semantically
poor to maintain page content for repurposing. For me, the XSL-FO
intermediate state is important for coming from other XML, however, but what
I need out of it is that final render state, whether as PDF or as something

FOP is open source. I can modify that code, so long as I am willing to give
back that code into the community (which I will be). This will help me
achieve my goal, which is to build a publishing distribution service for
e-books. While I will be selling the conversions to PDF, anyone with a copy
of Adobe Acrobat Pro can do the same thing, with the same level of fidelity.
However, if my goal is to get code into a maintainable intermediate
format(s) (in some other XML dialect) then FOP works quite fine to my needs.
My business, which is not a software publisher, gains this capability to
perform the conversions without the overhead of having infrastructure that I
don't wish to support on our own applications. I produce ancillary
technology based upon that including stylesheets and validation services
that I then contribute back into the overall good, while still supporting my
business model. In essence, the GPL in particular codifies the principal of

I believe that the days of the software development house that cranks out
software product after product are drawing to a close (with the exception of
entertainment software). The niches that are left are too small to support
even existing businesses by themselves, especially when looked at in light
of the costs involved in developing increasingly specialized products. If no
open source alternative existed, people may pay for this, but when it does
emerge (and it seems to regardless of which particular field you're talking
about) then this puts even more pressure on the market. I think that what
you're seeing now, globally, is the transformation of the underlying
programming model to an open source one.

So where does the money come from? Easy -- customization. Even if I create a
particular application that solves a problem, it may not (indeed, almost
certainly will not) be the exact same problem that some other potential
client may need. So that person is then forced to either change their
requirements to fit the existing technology or to change the technology to
adapt to the requirements. They can develop that code in house,
theoretically, but often times there are other factors -- limited resources,
limited development time, desire not to staff up for a given "pilot"
project, and so forth -- that make it more attractive to pay the developers
of the technology or someone otherwise skilled with it to adapt the
technology to their own particular needs. In other words, the equation
becomes a "value-add" one, the selling of cheap cell phones to sell the
subscription services.

I think we will find that the era of proprietary software will, for the most
part, be considered simply a prelude to the development of a large scale
global operating system within a decade, one that's fundamentally
open-source and open-standards based.

-- Kurt

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tokushige Kobayashi" <koba@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <xsl-list@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, February 27, 2004 4:48 PM
Subject: Re: [xsl] Re: What is the future of XSL-FO

> >> reply ro the mail
> >> From:C駘io Cidral Junior <ccidral@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> >> Dated: Fri, 27 Feb 2004 14:32:55 -0300
> >> Subject: [xsl] Re: What is the future of XSL-FO
> >---
> >This makes me happy. Now I can get rid of commercial reporting tools and
> >use some open source implementation (if I find one).
> >---
> Modern society consist of many people who devide the role.
> Some people produce your food, and the other people produce
> cars for you. You must pay money to purchase your food,
> sometimes you will be happy to pay money for a car.
> Software is the outcome of software engineers. If you wish
> to develop a good software, you must employ highly trained
> engineer, and motivate them to produce good software.
> In a short, it is natural to pay money for a good software
> product in modern society. Or do you wish to go back a few
> thousands year ago?
> I admit open source is one method of software development
> now, but it will be difficult to produce a good software
> in a short time by open source development model in general.
> Best regards,
> Tokushige Kobayashi
> Antenna House, Inc.
> E-mail koba@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> WWW (English)
> TEL    +81-3-3234-1361(direct call)
> FAX    +81-3-3221-9975
> Antenna House XSL School
>  XSL-List info and archive:

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