Spring’s New Maintenance Policy

SpringSource, the company behind the popular Spring Framework has announced a new maintenance policy: SpringSource Enterprise Maintenance Policy, effective September 2008.
After a lot of discussion in the community they have now added a Frequently Asked Questions document.

Spring Framework was originally created to overcome the limitations of Enterprise Java Beans (version 1 and 2) and make it easier to build J2EE applications. It has introduced dependency injection to a broad audience and changed the way many enterprise applications are built today. For many years it has been a vendor independant Open Source project available under the Apache Software License. Some time ago the creators of Spring Framework started their own company, received venture capital and things started to change. They’ve added new products like a new application server, bought Covalent and are looking for opportunities to gain some money.

In contrast to their new proprietary products which require a commercial license there has not been a real opportunity to make money from SpringFramework itself. Community support was fine, regular maintenance updates fixed the issues that were discovered and there was no need for commercial support. The recent announcement of their new maintenance policy seems to be their answer to that. They try to create a need for their support offerings. So the new policy basically states:

  • Free maintenance updates will only be available for three months after a major release
  • Maintenance releases will be available to paying customers under a commercial license for three years after a major release
  • Bug fixes will be commited to a maintenance branch but minor releases will not be tagged after the three month period so the community will not know which versions are stable

Though the major releases will remain Open Source the bug free minor versions (three months later) will not. Spring Framework 2.0 was released in October 2006, Spring Framework 2.5 in November 2007 which means that the community will be without minor releases for more than 9 months if the frequency of their releases remains similar.

Sure, you can always build from the sources but this looks like a bad idea given that SpringSource refuses to tag consistent and tested versions.

I can understand the desire to make cash from SpringFramework but I am not sure this way will be successful. For me the products of SpringSource have lost their strong advantage of being vendor independant and fully Open Source. Upcoming projects will have to consider this fact and investigate alternatives.

Update 2008-10-08

SpringSource has listened to the community and updated its maintenance policy: A Question of Balance: Tuning the Maintenance Policy. They’ve dropped the 3 month window and will provide community releases from trunk for each version of Spring while it remains the trunk or until the next version is stable.


Help Vampires

Just received a great link from Martin Smith on the Asterisk-Java dev mailing list:
Help Vampires.
The page includes everything you need to know:

  • How to identify them
  • What to do if you are a Help Vampire
  • How you can reform them

A lot of help vampires originate from countries that provide cheap outsourcing capabilities for companies in Europe and the US. Interestingly enough these vampires usually receive support from employees and contractors working for (and paid by) just the companies that enjoy the cheap prices of offshore development.


MobileKnox: Your Mobile Password Safe

Though there are some great ideas around to provide a global single sign-on infrastructure for web applications like OpenID today’s reality is different:

  • usually one account per web site – hopefully with different passwords
  • IMAP accounts for email
  • accounts for instant messaging networks (MSN, ICQ, Jabber)
  • accounts for your workstations at work, at home and for your notebook
  • PINs for your various credit and debit cards
  • account numbers and PINs for online and telephone banking
  • access codes for door locks and physical access control
  • and you probably can think of a lot more…

MobileKnox aims to make your life a bit easier by providing a secure store for your account data on your mobile phone.

If you are like me your mobile will always be with you. That means you will always have access to your credentials whether you are at work, at home or on the road.

MobileKnox runs on most Java-enabled mobiles and PDAs and is accompanied with a small desktop application that runs on all major platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux) to synchronize passwords with your device.


Sin-Yaw Wang: A Theory in Compensation

Sin-Yaw Wang put up a nice Theory in Compensation:

Your earned pay reflects the improvements of your skills. Companies do this in a zig-zag way: sometime over-paying and sometime under. The gap between these two lines cannot be too wide for too long. Either you will find a new job that pays your market rate, or the company will fire you for not giving your money’s worth.

He concludes:

Ask first, when you are thinking of a new job, if you will be learning new skills. Don’t ask if it pays better. You compensation will keep up with your skills, sooner or later. If you are not learning new skills, then you are simply being harvested.

Well said. I guess many companies out there just find it easier to pay more than to make sure their employees gain a real chance to develop their skills.
My experience is that even if they deploy formal processes for career planning, they often miss the point in what really matters to increase the value of their employees.