Initial directions for the fresh start
S V Ramu (2002-04-07)
Dear folks, the ellipses (three dots) at the end of the 'Launching now' title is just to caution you and to ridicule myself, in not being able to do a good job of this launching, to my fullest satisfaction. To my own surprise, I'm too busy with many practical things. Folks, this is also my straight faced plea to you all, for any help you can offer. Right now it is not money, but interactions and research work. You know the site, please see where you can fit (if need be create a need)!
Now that the confession is made, I owe to myself and to you all, to see to that, that this company succeeds, Come What May. Though it is inherently ridiculous to dream something without much substance (what is that?), I'm very sure that we can offer something in the form of openness, simplicity and innovation. We will. All said, and caution apart, there is something to jubilate about. This is April, and we are already afoot as planned, we are 'Launching' as planned, and we are making progress as planned, all this well within the broad timetable we started with. There is place for improvements, but there is also lot to pat our backs about.
What went right
After the initial trial hosting in end February, many things have gone as per plan. By the way, I used to imagine, that a site hosting should be a gala affair, with lot of high profile involvement and testing. Well, it is a kind of high profile affair, even for our size, but it is no gala thing for sure. If anything, the site hosting is lot of thinking, trying out, but finally a simple FTP to our server space and that is it. Ok, ok, this site is not hot cake for now. For now, the server log tells me that hardly anybody is trying this site other than me and a few of you who know me personally. That means around 5-7 hits a week!
The beauty is, as the title of this section claims, this is one thing that has gone right! Remember, when we started we expected the Q1 of 2002 as only preparation time; and what else could be better preparation than dreaming for hits! It all boils down to what we offer. Right now what we are offering is only our questions and some simple personal ideas. This cannot interest people if they are not in any mood to start their own company. We need to, and will, go beyond this initial pondering to an interestable state where we'll be (say) 1000 user strong, say by this year end. Pipe dream? I too think so, but a goal worthy of striving towards.
Lot of small details is clear now. It is a bit heart warming to compare today, with the plans made in early February and before. In a way it feels like being a politician and citing our election manifesto to prove progress. Only thing is that I'm not at all sure that we can complete anything at all that is dreamt; unless we toil mentally. All the same, this impossibility makes it all the more challenging, to see to it that this dream succeeds. When it does, remember this day and it will be so much sweeter!
The near future and beyond: The Next Week
I find that planning is a judicious mix of day dreaming and some practical research. As per the February TimeLine, we wanted to release the source code, docs and binaries, of some general tools, in the month of April; and we can. I did wish, that I could do that in this first week hosting itself, but couldn't. Too many software configuration (SCM) issues to consider for longitivity of maintenance. This could be done in the next couple of weeks, hopefully.
Software tools would be one part of this launch's focus, the other two would be to find a reusable model for releasing and maintaining projects (be it for open source efforts or commercial ones) and a standard open-source usage prescription for different purposes. When anything is released in the coming weeks, the intention is to keep it in a generic framework, both design-wise and configuration-wise. One tool that is complete and running is for playing Carnatic (South Indian) music from the notes, using Java midi packages. I find that it can be adapted for playing any music (especially western). Another tool is for mail storing. This is too basic for now, but the intention again is to make it into a very simple and very configurable mail client.
Even this attempt to release few miniscule software tools, has made us aware of the importance of robust configuration ideas. We are working on things like product versioning, package dependency, and anti-version-control systems. You can read about some of the early thoughts on SCM in the accompanying article of this hosting.
One more thing that will be added as a section soon would be on standards for concepts and tools usage. This is the one, for which the articles and software are trial grounds. The goal of finding stable and simple process frameworks for designing and developing distributed systems is what is driving this whole company and this site. Only after openly stabilizing on that, can the company, start on revenue generating consultancy and projects.
By the way, we wanted to release the xml format and its test style-sheet to the article contributors, but couldn't. We are considering DocBook model for these articles, if it is not a overkill. Meanwhile please send your articles in some similar format as is presented in this site, and we will format it for you and include it.
This time around, we also intended to introduce our own controllable email model. This too unfortunately should wait till next week. Let us see, all these ideally should be done by next week, failing which the week after that, but not beyond.
Our copyright stand
As it had been our policy while working for others, we always want to share openly. Open-source model had been very useful and encouraging to us in our learning and growth. We want to give back what we took from the community. Though we realize that giving things free will not give us our daily bread, we also find that we have to do it for the following important reasons.
Open-source model is fun and satisfying to work with.
Ethically we are bound to give back what we take.
It is a necessity in the current competitive world, where you will not be noticed if you don't offer some unique value and cost benefits.
Open-source model is a great boon for budding entrepreneurs, who believe that they have something to offer.
Believe me when I say that, we believe in the social aspect of the open-source model, as much as its business sense. We are as much excited about it, as we are forced to use it. We did read few licenses and the definition available in the Open-Source site and it is truly mercilessly open. Though we are not sure whether it is good for us as a company or not, I'm more are less certain that it is the way to go. Nevertheless we do not want to commit how this site and the stuffs in it are licensed, until we read those licenses fully and understand it. Till such time, we do happily grant complete right to copy or alter or redistribute the contents of this site, as long as you are willing to give due credits to the authors and TATTVUM.com, and do not alter it in such way to twist the meaning of the articles and put us in bad light. That is all we ask, and whatever licensing model we come up with, will definitely have this freedom and good intention in it.
This is a very old internal article on the direction we wanted to try out. This article explores few tentative timelines and areas of focus. This is cited here only to pat ourselves on our back ;)
Our foray into open-source projects have prompted us to closely reconsider the SCM model we would like to use. Simultaneously the thought of programmer's freedom is analyzed with the tools that they use.