13 October 2007

Xara's Failure: Half Closed, Half Hearted

We are so used to the Cathedral and the Bazaar story of how the open source methodology succeeds that it is easy to forget that it can fail. Here's a classic case: Xara Xtreme, which was nominally open sourced a couple of years ago. Despite that, the project never really took off and is now moribund. Why?

Numerous developers told Xara point-blank that they would not devote their time and energy to working on Xara Xtreme while its CDraw core remained closed source. Xara persisted with its original stance, in essence telling the developer community that the community was wrong: the code it had released was enough, and they should start working on it and stop complaining.

Other companies take note: open sourcing is not to be undertaken lightly. And if you do go that route, you go all the way: half-heartedness does not work in a world where the main fuel is passion.

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