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Why Open APIs Fall Far Short of Open Source

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the all-due-credit dept.

Open Source 163

itwbennett writes "451 Group analyst Jay Lyman opined in a LinuxInsider column that because of open APIs, 'non-open source software is often open enough.' Not so, says ITworld blogger Brian Proffitt. Sure, open APIs are an easy way for a small developer to 'plug into a big software ecosystem,' but it's a trap. 'If open APIs are the only connector to a software project, the destiny of that code lies solely in the hands of the owners,' says Proffitt. 'Which means that anyone connecting into the application will have to deal with the changes imposed from the top down.'"

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163 comments

Google (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39053647)

Google is an expert at this. Convincing people that their open apis are the same as open source. They have and will never opensource their revenue generating products. They themselves don't believe in the open source economic model.

Re:Google (-1, Flamebait)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053701)

That is because they have a positive IQ.

Re:Google (5, Funny)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054059)

Unlike you, who has apparently never heard of something called "Android".

Re:Google (4, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054159)

The OS isn't where they make their money off this product. Being the open source alternative gives them a good market position, but their money is made from selling the hardware and tying it into the other Google services. Think of the OS as the loss leader that gets you in their store.

Re:Google (3, Informative)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054513)

Their top revenue generator is their adds and second indirectly their search engine. Neither of which I'd ever expect for them to open.

Re:Google (3, Informative)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054735)

100% agreed. Call it a "loss leader' or the price of doing business, but the OS certainly is not their revenue generator. Amazing how many smart people don't understand how companies make their money.

Re:Google (0)

hobarrera (2008506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055439)

Android isn't REALLY open source.
A lot of bits and pieces that come with mobile phones you purchase with android, are actually closed source.
There's a couple of frameworks a LARGE amount of applications require, as well as the market, chat, email, and lots of important stuff.
With no market, you've lost the n1 source of software, and without some authentication frameworks and stuff, lots of applications won't even work.
Have you used the OS version of android? It's really more like share-ware, or something like that (I'me sure there's a word for this).

Re:Google (3, Insightful)

DangerOnTheRanger (2373156) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055893)

Android - at least all the code you get from Google - is under the Apache 2.0 License. That makes Android a fully open-source project, since the Apache License is an OSI-approved license (and quite a permissive one at that). So people can't (or shouldn't) complain about Android not being open-source; they should complain instead about carriers making proprietary extensions. Quick note: CyanogenMod [cyanogenmod.com] - an open-source build of Android - comes bundled with its own open-source marketplace application.

Re:Google (1)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054247)

That is because they have a positive IQ.

Is that what they say now days? "Positive IQ" bus? "Positive IQ" education? "Positive IQ" needs?

Re:Google (2)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054047)

They have and will never opensource their revenue generating products.

Of course not, how are they going to make money otherwise?

They themselves don't believe in the open source economic model.

errr...Android? That's open source and generates revenue through their ad network.

Re:Google (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054197)

You need to read the whole sentence. The OS isn't the revenue generating part of Android. The hardware is. The other Google services are. The open source OS is just the way they get their product (you) and their paying customer (also you but third parties who want your eyeballs) in the door.

Re:Google (4, Insightful)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054407)

You need to read the whole sentence. The OS isn't the revenue generating part of Android. The hardware is. The other Google services are. The open source OS is just the way they get their product (you) and their paying customer (also you but third parties who want your eyeballs) in the door.

You need to read the whole sentence:
That's open source and generates revenue through their ad network.
As you can see i noted the way in which the Android open source software is funded by a profit model that doesn't require the software to be closed, which is very much the open source economic model, which is what i replied to:
They themselves don't believe in the open source economic model.

Re:Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39056131)

Are you a fucking moron? Read your own sentence. "...revenue through their ad network"

Re:Google (1)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054535)

> The OS isn't the revenue generating part of Android.
The OS isn't the *direct* revenue part of Android. People don't think they are paying for the OS. However, without the OS you would have hardware with nothing running on it. Just because they don't charge for the Linux or Java (customized versions of which compromise the marketing name, "Android") doesn't mean they don't have value to Google. The OS is very valuable to Google, without an OS they would not make money on this product. Please don't confuse not charging for something directly with not generating revenue from it.

Re:Google (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054661)

It is funny. We agree on all the facts but disagree with the interpretation. I view it as the "loss leader", you view it as part of the whole. Perhaps we simply are viewing the two sides of the same coin. What I won't budge from, however, is that true to the OP, Google will not give away its crown jewels through open sourcing.

Re:Google (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054677)

Google's revenue generating products consist of the service-providing application that runs on Google infrastructure: their data store, indexing, replication, load balancing, configuration/deployment, maintenance front-end, etc. Open sourcing a random Google service would be quite useless: without the infrastructure you couldn't even run the darn thing. You'd have to spend a lot of time implementing at least skeleton functionality of the various back-ends just to run it. And then it'd still be an unscalable hack that could serve thousands but that's it. So, even if Google did open source a couple of their services, it'd be useless code, but also the argument that it'd help out their competition is invalid: they'd need Google's hardware and software infrastructure to scale it for real-life use by the millions. Say, google open-sourcing gmail would not affect their revenue stream at all, but it sure would make people realize how much investment google has in their infrastructure. Because I'm pretty damn sure that gmail utilizes everything they've got in gmail, whether directly or indirectly: spam scanning, indexing, distributed and redundant datastore, whatever toolkits are used for the development of the front and back-end, authentication, context detection (for addresses, phone numbers, etc), pop, smtp and imap servers (likely their own), yada yada.

No difference (1)

cream wobbly (1102689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054227)

Opening your api is the same as opening your source. Just because the source is free to view doesn't automatically make it free to modify and release. I refer you to The Free Software Definition [gnu.org] .

Am I being too picky? Hey, if you're using the phrase "open API" to mean "partially open but proprietary", then we can -- indeed must -- also assume that "open source" means the same thing: cost-free, but not unshackled.

Re:No difference (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054767)

No, we mustn't assume anything, because TFA (the one who claims open APIs are "open enough") links the term to the Wikipedia page with a definition of open source.

We should have ask this instead ... (0)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054459)

... the question that we need to ask is why Open-Source software often fail to equip themselves with open APIs?

True, some open-sourced software, such as Mozilla Firefox, does offer open APIs to aid independent software developers in writing plug-ins and add-ons.

The problem is, open-sourced software that offer open API like Mozilla Firefox are far and few in between. Many other open-sourced failed to offer such conveniences.

Photoshop won't be so popular without the thousands of plug-ins and add-ons.

On the other hand, how many add-ons / plug-ins are available for GIMP?

For crying out loud, the GIMP authors still refuse users the basic 16-bit per channel support !!

Re:We should have ask this instead ... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054879)

GIMP does have open APIs. They have less plugins because they have less users.

Re:We should have ask this instead ... (0)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054931)

GIMP does have open APIs. They have less plugins because they have less users.

That is precisely my point

The authors of GIMP, by not even wanting to provide their users to enjoy 16-bit (or more) per channel graphics, artificially restrict the pool of users to their software

Even when they provide open API, not many would want to put time in developing plug-ins for GIMP because the user base just aint there to begin with

Re:We should have ask this instead ... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055063)

Your post was confusing. You start by saying that "open-sourced software that offer open API (...) are far and few in between" and then you talk about GIMP, it gives the impression you're giving an example of one of those open-sourced softwares that don't offer open APIs.

Sorry for the confusion (0)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055237)

I admit that my original piece was a little bit incoherent

Sorry for that

My point being - actually, two points ----

1. Most of the open-sourced software do not offer any open-API

2. Many open-sourced software are purposely constructed as such that they are inferior to their commercial counterparts, and GIMP is a perfect example of that

For point 1. I offer Mozilla Firefox as an example of open-source software that offer open API

However, with the rapid version changes of Mozilla Firefox, many plug-ins that used to work with older version no longer work in newer versions

For users who are accustomed to those plugins, we are handicapped whenever an old trusted plugin can no longer be used

For point 2, how hard is it for the author of GIMP to provide 16-bit per channel support?

How many years already the users clamouring for such feature?

You see any change of attitude from the authors of GIMP in this regard?

No. They, the authors of GIMP, just couldn't give a damn of what the users want.

They just do whatever pleases them, and no giving the users the ability to do 16-bit (or more) per channel support seems to be one of the things that please the GIMP authors

Re:Sorry for the confusion (2)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055917)

This is one of the stupidest long winded rants I've seen on here in a while. You should hang out with that apk guy.

Re:We should have ask this instead ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39055111)

I'm sorry, did you mean to say, "They have fewer plugins because they have fewer users"?

I know it's difficult when English isn't your native language, but keep trying and I'm sure you'll improve!

Re:We should have ask this instead ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39055183)

I'm sorry, did you mean to say, "I am a pedantic asshole"?

I know it's difficult when civility isn't your normal mode of behavior, but keep trying and I'm sure you'll improve!

Re:We should have ask this instead ... (5, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055981)

For crying out loud, the GIMP authors still refuse users the basic 16-bit per channel support !!

No they don't.

http://www.gimp.org/docs/userfaq.html#16bit [gimp.org]

When can we see 16-bit per channel support (or better)?
For some industries, especially photography, 24-bit colour depths (8 bits per channel) are a real barrier to entry. Once again, it's GEGL to the rescue. Work on integrating GEGL into GIMP began after 2.4 was released, and will span across several stable releases. This work will be completed in GIMP 3.0, which will have full support for high bit depths.

There's also the UFRaw plugin for 16 bit image processing. http://ufraw.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

Re:Google (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054651)

Really every API you are stuck to the app that your interfacing with.
Yes you can adjust an open source app. But really are you going to maintain a fork for a minor to moderate change. For the most part you use the parents software API and you deal with it. If the upgrade breaks what you have your gonna choose to stay with the old version or upgrade and fix your code.
Really this is just a rant from open source zealots to exaggerate minor trade offs of the models of software.

Re:Google (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055927)

It seems to have attracted a lot of attention from the closed source zealots so I guess it did its job.

Open APIs? (5, Informative)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053713)

Like for example, the Windows API?

Seems like "Open API" is another way to say "proprietary software."

Openwashing (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053843)

Yep, openwashing strikes again.
'Open API' means something akin to 'documented API' for proprietary software.

Re:Openwashing (1, Insightful)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054683)

Ah yes, the claim that the word "open" is owned by a small subset of people who think it can only and ever mean "open source software".

An Open API is just that - an API that is accessible and documented so that if your software wants to work with another piece of software you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time you want to do that.

Much like an electrical plug and socket being standard - the socket is the API to the power in your house. You are not obligated to use it (feel free to install your own connectors or simply splice into the wiring by hand if you must), but sometimes you just want to make a device that plugs into the wall, y'know?

"Openwashing" is such a laughably arrogant term. I'm fully behind open source - I think it is one of the best things to happen in the computer revolution, but running around trying to claim ownership of a term because you act like spoiled children because people you don't like use the term perfectly legitimately to describe an interface/protocol/standard etc just makes you look like your mom forgot to make your eggo this morning and left you in a grump.

Re:Openwashing (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054923)

Your example is great, because that's exactly the point. Like an electrical plug, to be open an API doesn't need to be merely documented - it has to be a standard. Anything with a single implementation is not and can never be a standard, and therefore it's not open.

Re:Openwashing (2)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054999)

That's an enormous non-sequitur - a single implementation can certainly be open. Just because it's singular does not make it "not open" - that's that attempt to define the term "open" again.

Open does not mean standard, although a standard can be open (or closed), just as an open interface does not necessarily need to be a standard (like GSM or power sockets or RJ45 plugs etc, although it needs to be standardised in that it is relatively unchanging within itself).

Re:Openwashing (2)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055593)

Words have meaning, and meaning in particular contexts.
Corporate doublespeak attempts to corrupt that meaning, in this case by intentional reversal; applying a word to it's diametric opposite.

Most people here quite clearly understand that.

Re:Openwashing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39055709)

Words have meaning, and meaning in particular contexts.
Corporate doublespeak attempts to corrupt that meaning, in this case by intentional reversal; applying a word to it's diametric opposite.

So you think "open API" was created by PR people to confuse? Isn't it more likely that the word "open" is an adjective, and applying it to different things gives a meaning that depends on the thing?

My house is blue. So is the sky. What dastardly corporate conspirators are trying to trick us into thinking that my house and the sky are the same blue thing?

Most people here quite clearly understand that.

Claiming that most people agree with you is a silly way to fail at an argument. If your position is something more than a nutty conspiracy theory, you should be able to explain it. If most people already agree, why bother to argue it?

Re:Openwashing (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055773)

So by your logic, why even bother to have dictionaries? Surely formal definitions are just another group of people arrogantly co-opting the language right? Right? The mind boggles.

Re:Open APIs? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053871)

Open APIs are a way to say, "Proprietary software platforms that you can write your own software for!" The word "trap" does not even come close to describing the nature of these systems, which are attempts by certain companies to control large software ecosystems (e.g. what happened with Windows).

Re:Open APIs? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054733)

That's like "open" industrial standards, like, um, CiP - common industrial protocol, developed by ODVA [odva.org] . It's "open" in the sense that if you pay them a couple thousand bucks and agree to all sorts of things, they'll politely let you read the freaking thing. Pretty steep for an "open" standard, if you ask me. And designed by a committe that must have had a couple armchair politicians included, because boy, did they overengineer that thing.

Re:Open APIs? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055103)

However the summary is a bit more dire than is probably what happens. If an API changes then there's a big chance you lose a lot of customers or customers refuse to upgrade, or your partners stop being your partners. Maybe Microsoft doesn't care about this but smaller companies are concerned and will do what they can to keep the APIs backwards compatible.

For instance at once company I was at I worked on the external APIs to the main product which allowed third parties and customers to integrate it with other products or write their own applications. If the API does not work then the value of the main product we sold would have been greatly lessened; our competitors had an external interface of some sort, even if it was as clumsy as doing an Oracle query and then parsing the output. So we'd have lost sales if we required customers to only use the functionality that we shipped with or to pay our consultants to do any integration work. If we made the APIs incompatible in a future release then word would have gotten out that we weren't reliable and partners would stop saying such nice things about us. The vast majority of enterprise software depends upon being able to configure and integrate the product with all the other unusual products out there. The customers need to be able to duct tape together 20 different products so they can tell their boss that they have an enterprise solution. So this is a huge incentive to keep the APIs stable lest you lose market share.

This is not about locking customers in since the customers know it's just as easy to buy a new product than it is to stick with your product that no longer works the way it used to. The only ones who can get away with this crap are the huge companies that offer solutions across the board. Anyone without the clout of Microsoft needs to keep customers happy.

Re:Open APIs? (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056015)

Maybe Microsoft doesn't care about this but smaller companies are concerned and will do what they can to keep the APIs backwards compatible.

I can't think of a single vendor that's bent over backwards more than MS to keep their APIs backward compatible -- the fact that Windows 7 can run applications from the 80's is a testament to that.

Well yes (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053755)

Because if you code up an "open", gratis API, and it's useful, people will build applications around it. Then, a year later, you start charging for it. Either the developers using your API have to pay or their applications won't work (at least, not without significant recoding, which often means significant developer cost). You're basically holding their code hostage. It's awesome if you're the API developer, of course.

Now, to be fair, this is only unethical if you infer that the API will continue to be free throughout its life. It's certainly not open source though.

Re:Well yes (5, Insightful)

_merlin (160982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054109)

In my experience, it's just as bad, if not worse, developing add-ons for open source projects as it is for open APIs. As much as I hate Windows, it's a good example of a stable API. It doesn't change much, you can keep running old applications, shell extensions, COM modules and whatever else. Open source systems often seem to make incompatible changes at a ridiculous pace that people with plugins are forced to keep up with. Being open source isn't a magical solution to problems. A stable API/ABI is what you want, and it can be delivered, or fail to be delivered,
by open or closed source software alike.

Re:Well yes (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055451)

Why is this modded "Insightful" instead of "Funny".
Windows API stable? Running old software on newer versions? I can't stop laughing!

Re:Well yes (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055743)

OK, let me clarify. The base Win32 APIs provided in system32.dll, kernel32.dll, comctl.dll, etc. Things like Direct3D, etc. change around a bit, but for stuff other than games, stability is pretty good.

Re:Well yes (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055977)

Has it occurred to any of you open API vs source jokes that you are talking about two completely different things? Software can be open or closed with or without api's. Duh. What the hell is wrong with you people?

Isn't the problem the same? (5, Insightful)

multiben (1916126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053763)

I have nothing against open source, but if an open source product changes its API for some reason, we still have changes imposed from the top down. The only option we have is to then maintain our own version of the opensource project or provide some sort of adapter component. What a headache! I use open APIs all the time. Skype, VST, google, Gracenote being just some of them. Very occaisionally they change - usually for the better due to de-cluttering the API while adding new features. I change my projects and it is rarely a problem. The overhead for doing so is tiny compared to the potential hassle of having to maintain builds and adpaters to potentially dozens of projects just because I want the API to stay exactly the same forever.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39053803)

You make a valid point. However, it is quite easy to maintain your own version of the open source project if you use gamemaker instead of whatever other language you normally use.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053921)

Except that with an open source project, you can always fork -- and if an API change is so drastic that an entire software ecosystem is threatened by it, a fork is likely to happen (or a project may simply maintain two versions -- Apache does this). Firefox has come pretty close, but extension developers do not represent a large enough ecosystem for the community to fork Firefox, and the API changes are not drastic enough to necessitate such a thing.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (5, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054253)

Except that with an open source project, you can always fork --

In theory, yes.

In practice, the open source project can be so big or so arcane that you are going to need serious muscle and manpower behind you to make it happen.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054553)

Except that with an open source project, you can always fork --

In theory, yes.

In practice, the open source project can be so big or so arcane that you are going to need serious muscle and manpower behind you to make it happen.

Something big and arcane like OpenOffice or XFree86?

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (2)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055207)

Yes, of which neither could have been forked by a single developer or even a small group of developers. They are on the other hand given lots of development through paid developers.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39055587)

So in other words you agree and the ggp's contention that large projects don't fork is utter bullshit. Glad you agree nutcase.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (2)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055663)

No one said large projects don't fork. His point was that large projects are usually impossible to fork by a single or small group of developers. OpenOffice.org and XFree86 were only possible to be forked because there were tons of people and commercial companies willingly to fund the work. If Joe Developer didn't agree with the path of XFree86 it would have been nigh impossible for them to sustain fork on their own without needing probably countless weeks or months in order to even gain a tiny ability to reasonably maintain it. In which case they are just as much put out as if some proprietary API had been changed and had to rewrite their work. And honestly, the second scenario is probably vastly easier to adapt to.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (2)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056057)

Yeah, forking xfree86 and open office is hard. Try doing the same thing with MS Office or Quartz and see how far you get no matter how much money and manpower you have. Now keep acting like you are too dumb to see the difference.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054587)

You can often do something similar with a proprietary system - just keep running the old version. Yeah, you can't maintain and update it yourself, but with an Open Source project of even moderate complexity, only a very very few of its users are going to have the expertise to maintain and update a fork in the first place. It's a theoretical advantage for Open Source, but I imagine it would be realized only very rarely.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054641)

Unless you pay a programmer to do it for you. The problem with closed source is you can't hire someone and tell them

"Here's $100, go sit in Microsoft's building and recompile their code with a couple of changes, just for me"

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054773)

And have the expertise and time to manage the programmer. Sure, for a minor feature here and there, one that's simple enough for a non-techie to spec and test themselves, sure, a short-term contract's fine (although I doubt you'd get much done for $100). But if you're looking at anything more than that, you're going to be employing someone for weeks or months, plus testing, scope and management overheads. A big company can probably throw money at their IT department, and get them to manage a couple of contractors to do that - but then, a big company can just as easily do that to rewrite their software that depends on the closed API too.

Small businesses get screwed either way.

Oh, and please don't think I'm anti-OS, either. I'm typing this on a linux machine as we speak, I work with OS products every day, and have even contributed (very minor) patches to a couple. But I'm realist enough to admit its not a panacea. API changes are going to be annoying/expensive no matter what development methodology is behind them. Which is why we have Long-Term Support options, and versioning schemes that indicate API changes.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39055647)

You fucks are hilarious with your "I run Linux blah blah blah" all the time you're dogging it with "Oh in theory you can do this and that awesome thing but it rarely actually happens.". The thing is people fork open source software everyday and every one of those theoretical advantages are realized by thousands of people everyday. Hell, Android is a fork of various open source programs and hundreds of millions of people use it everyday. Including me right now as I'm typing this on my Xoom with AOSP rom. So fuck off with your faint praise damning. Leave open source and the people who use it alone if you don't like it. fucker.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055481)

It's not always posible to run old closed source software. Sometimes in wont work on newer OSs, or even newer hardware, and this is 100% unfixable.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055503)

It's not always posible to run old closed source software. Sometimes in wont work on newer OSs, or even newer hardware, and this is 100% unfixable.

Emulation. And it's just as unfixable for Open Source, unless you can afford/have the expertise to port it to your OS/hardware of choice.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055677)

Every system can't be emulated. Not to mention the difficulty of finding installation media for many older systems. Or the legalities. Also, pretending that porting open source applications is equally as difficult as proprietary software is flat out laughable. Where do you people come from?

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055785)

Every system can't be emulated

Name one

Not to mention the difficulty of finding installation media for many older systems. Or the legalities

If you're trying to port a system you currently have running as to a new OS, then you presumably have both the media and the licenses, as you are already running the OS.

Also, pretending that porting open source applications is equally as difficult as proprietary software is flat out laughable. Where do you people come from?

Apparently, you come from a place that just ignores any part of a sentence that comes after a comma. I said it's just as unfixable unless you can afford/have the expertise to port it to your OS/hardware of choice. And no, that expertise is not easy to come by, nor cheap enough for your average business to use as a matter of course.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39055843)

Name one.

The one you don't have and can't find installation media for. You can throw in the ones that have licenses that forbid emulation too. Duh.

Presumably

There's your problem.

Not cheap...not easy

Yeah, stuff that straw man full, joke. You might even convince yourself.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39054915)

>you can always fork

Yeah, riiiiight. I think I'll start a new meme: Open source is only immune from changes imposed from the top down if your time is worthless.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39055101)

Eh? Did you miss what happened to OpenOffice? I suppose everyone associated with the LibreOffice fork's time is worthless?

Open Source displays useful resistance (not immunity, per se) to top-down changes if anybody finds it worth their time* to fork it and take it in a better (for you) direction.

*"worth their time" could mean their time is worthless. It could also mean that they derive a great deal of value from forking it -- in which case everyone whose time is not worthless, but who stands to gain only a little from the fork, gets a free ride.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055221)

So you are trying to equate some single developer having to fork what could be complex software and spend their own time and money to do so to a fork of a project that has a number of large commercial companies behind it that can fund the developers to work on it? Are you an idiot?

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (0)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055733)

What the fuck are you talking about? Your run-on sentence doesn't make a lick of sense. The guy said if somebody finds it worthwhile to fork something then they can. What's your problem, asshole?

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054591)

I have nothing against open source, but if an open source product changes its API for some reason, we still have changes imposed from the top down. The only option we have is to then maintain our own version of the opensource project or provide some sort of adapter component. What a headache!

Think of open source as insurance against sudden changes. You can maintain your own version for as long as you need to move to the new API, thereby being less disrupted. Without this option of open source, you get disrupted immediately when the API changes and you have to react or remain in a broken state, pushing all your other work aside while this happens.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055681)

You can maintain your own version for as long as you need to move to the new API, thereby being less disrupted.

Unless you are writing toy programs, almost no one has the ability these days to take on the role of maintaining every piece library or API that they rely on. So, no, you are just as disrupted because then you now have to get up to speed on the source code of each of these pieces you have to maintain which depending on what the library/API/etc is can be a monumental task. Far more painful than just adapting to the API change.

Re:Isn't the problem the same? (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056107)

Where did the Ggp say anything about maintaining every library he relies on? He said go that route as a last resort while adapting to the new API. Where do you put all the straw men you build because you have quite a collection going from this thread.

My black box is completely open (0, Offtopic)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053769)

You stick your poo in one end, and out of the other end comes rainbows. I assure you there are no hidden APIs or undocumented features. Except for CALEA. Or that thing they are going to require in Canada. Or that thing that we set up with the Chinese Communist Party to promote harmonious communications amongst the people. Or that thing we did for Tunisia back when Ali was in power... anyways.

Re:My black box is completely open (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054619)

Your point is a good one, especially because hardware like PLCs also depends on interface APIs and hidden IP.

And as stuxnet demonstrated with SIEMENS hardware, yes, not being able to see the internals is a potential problem.

Would you rather have nothing? (2, Insightful)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053771)

Open-API is better than nothing. At least you can plug into the proprietary software using a relatively stable interface.

Re:Would you rather have nothing? (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053961)

I would rather not be at the mercy of Microsoft, Apple, Google, or Facebook. They do not need to change their API, they can just change the licensing and suddenly my software is threatened.

Re:Would you rather have nothing? (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054107)

True. But if you wanted or needed to integrate with their products, APIs allow you to do so easily. If you wanted to pull information off a site and the site did not have an API, you would have to request the HTML generated for the "human interface" and the parse through it. A simple redesign of the view of the origin website would easily cause the hack to break. At least with an API, the website owner has to be intentional in order to break the API.

Re:Would you rather have nothing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39054453)

I like to license my code mostly under BSD-style and the Perl Artistic licenses. That said, I'd like to propose a really easy way to make sure you don't have to be at the mercy of any particular API: don't use it. Really, it's that simple. Go develop all the server side bits yourself. Nobody is stopping you. You can even found your own projects and collaborate with like-minded folks to develop things. Crazy, huh? The best part is that you'll be able to decide how your code is used, just like everybody else can decide how theirs is used. Honestly, the premise of this "story" pops up over and over again in different forms, just as it has been for the two decades I've been coding anything. It was old and tired ten years ago, and really just comes across as pathetic whining now.

Re:Would you rather have nothing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39056019)

I would rather not be at the mercy of Microsoft, Apple, Google, or Facebook. They do not need to change their API, they can just change the licensing and suddenly my software is threatened.

Good point. I was going to use google's map API, but you convinced me that building a clone of google maps myself is far better. If google starts to change me for use, your advice saved me from the expense of... building my own google maps clone.

Seriously, does anyone here get anything done in the real world? Making tradeoffs to get the job done with minimal cost and risk is not that rare a skill.

Re:Would you rather have nothing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39055115)

The problem here is simply that people want all the benefits of a group's work without having to expend any labor for it or pay anything for it. You know, exactly the same argument rabid open source fanatics level against private companies. More than that, such people expect a free ride when it comes to piggybacking on very large networks built from the ground up by said private companies. I'm sorry you were modded down; all you did was tell the truth. God forbid the zealots put their own money and labor where their mouth is and go develop their own platforms, to do with as they please. They're doing more harm than good to the notion of true open source and community development, and coming across as whiny children.

A number of traps actually (4, Interesting)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053779)

Open source is superior in large part because not only can the small developer use the open API's but actually shape the development of the next generation through direct access to the developers of the API's used and even code contributions themselves. That cannot compare to open API's on a closed source platform.

Which is better, less or more (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39053895)

I guess more is better. This question is like asking whether you'd like to own a car, or your car AND own the road. Sure, I could then change the rules, and start making a new kind of car. I'd have more control, but to take advantage, I'd have to do a lot more work.

No news here... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39053913)

Move on.

It's a free market (-1, Offtopic)

betelgeuse68 (230611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053937)

If you don't like what Sony is charging... don't buy it. While it does seem like Sony is being a "prick", you aren't entitled to Whitney Houston music at some price. Worst case, just wait, it will go back down. However, it does seem a bit tasteless for Sony. But no one is forcing anyone to buy anything.

Re:It's a free market (0)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054713)

Let's ask Whitney if she agrees.

Hey, Whitney, knock twice if you agree with betelgeuse68! ....

... did you hear a knock? No, I didn't either. I guess she doesn't agree with you.

Yeah, real world on line 1? Better than nothing! (3, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053999)

Which means that anyone connecting into the application will have to deal with the changes imposed from the top down.

That holds true only for "cloud" computing, where you have absolutely no control over exactly what happens to the servers, to the applications, or even to your data.

For typical day-to-day applications, including enterprise-level server apps, you absolutely can control what happens, by simply not upgrading to the latest and greatest every three months like the vendor wants you to - And as a rule, you'll find most companies don't do so, staying as far behind the bleeding edge (often two "major" versions) as their service agreement allows.

In larger shops, this happens precisely because upgrading would break any custom in-house apps developed to interface with UberSystem9000. In smaller ones, simply because they don't have the resources to have two people dedicated to nothing but installing service packs 40+ hours a week.

Case in point, you can still find fortune-500s running on an NT4 infrastructure on the server side, and I would dare say the majority of business desktops still run XP.

Re:Yeah, real world on line 1? Better than nothing (2)

hobarrera (2008506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055505)

And if it's closed source, AND a security hole is found, you've got yourself in a huge mess, seeing as how you *need* to upgrade to the latest version ASAP, or take the system down.
This can also happen due to compatibilty issues, for example.

Strings attached (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39054057)

It's a tradeoff. Open source, Open API - the best choice depends so much on what you're trying to accomplish that I don't see how there can be a general-case answer to that.

If you want complete control, you have to edge toward 100% proprietary code. From there you can compromise toward towing the GPL line, and/or towing the vendor line. Granted, there are other licensing options, but unless you exclude every not-invented-here tool (and maybe that is what you want to do) then there are going to be strings attached.

The author asserts that you "can't live off of" the Open API route - I don't see how he's substantiated that, however. I don't know that you *can*, but we'll find out, won't we? If every Open API oriented business fails, evolution isn't going to run in it's favor.

What do the two have to do with each other? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39054751)

I believe the point of open source was so that we could all learn from one another and not reinvent the proverbial corner free rolling device.

API's are an interface, not the procedures that a program follows. This is really an apples to oranges comparison. Maybe the question to ask is, isn't it nice that we can interface with a website as opposed to not?

But we certainly couldn't download the source to Facebook and go start our own myface, with hookers and blackjack!

This just isn't true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39055283)

in many cases. Sun was a big Open API company, as was Netscape. They used SMTP and IMAP, HTTP, etc., instead of proprietary protocols. They could possibly add optional extensions, but they certainly couldn't impose change from the top down. Open APIs suggest that the software in question can be replaced and interchanged. One IMAP server can replace another. More specifically, in the Cloud universe this is still true. For example: RackSpace pretty much copied Amazon's cloud storage API exactly.

Open APIs in propriety software (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055295)

Having well documented Open APIs is one thing. But until you have open source software, you will never see the undocumented APIs that the owners of the software are keeping hidden to give them an edge. I'd be surprised if Microsoft aren't the only ones who do this.

Re:Open APIs in propriety software (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055515)

On this matter, I was really surprised by foursquare: they seem to allow one to do ANYTHING their website/applications do with the API they provide. I even suspect they actually use the API themselves (the web-interface is listed as an application actually).
There's an example everyone else should follow. Use ONLY the documented API for your own software.

Neither Open API or Open Software in important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39055499)

Neither Open APIs or Open Software in important. What is important is Open specifications and open standards. Too much focus on Open Source I think. I just want open standards and specifications. We can then all bring our own implementations, whether is is proprietary or Open or Free or whatever.

Open API will always Lag (1)

vaene (1981644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056085)

I work quite a bit with the YouTube (Gdata) API and have also worked with many Open Source platforms as well. With Open source I am limited pretty much only by my ability in terms of finding out how things work and where the "hooks" are to get the most out of the system. With an Open API such as Gdata I am at the mercy of Google's developers as to what they wish to expose. I can make a request, but good luck with getting it fulfilled if it doesn't fit with their business model.
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