The “Free”, “Standard”, “Open” Software Heresy


There are those people that have a strong, dogmatic belief in what they call “Free” or “Standard” or “Open” software. One of those individuals is Jimmie (let’s call him Jimmie in this article) who has responded to an article about Java persistence by Marco Behler on TheServerSide.

Let me cite Jimmie’s response here:

JPA is difficult but complete. It has a learning curve, and you’ll have surprises if you try to shortcut its complexities. But they mostly are there for a reason. Difficult stuff is difficult using JPA, that’s true.

JOOQ is quick to learn. And is proprietary stuff. Not free. Only one implementation. No public review, only one body involved in its evolution. SQL-oriented, not OO (ok, they say it’s a feature).
As a serious professional, learn JPA. Fully. There is no excuse for not knowing which sql queries are generated in your production app. Replacing it with a more basic framework is no solution.

Let’s not go deeply into the concrete difference between JPA and jOOQ / SQL. That topic has been discussed already in lengths on Reddit. Let’s consider the essence of the comparison as perceived by Jimmie. Because, Jimmie would probably say exactly the same thing when comparing

  • JSF with Ext.JS or ZK
  • PostgreSQL with Oracle
  • MS Office or Google Docs (probably OK cause “gratis”) with LibreOffice
  • Linux with Windows or MacOSX (although he might perform some doublethink as a Mac user)

Software not being free

Jimmie, Is YOUR software free and “not proprietary”? If so, how do you finance it? How do you earn a living? And why are you doing it? What really motivates you? What really motivates your customers and why?

Only one implementation

How many people actually do use alternatives to Hibernate and why? Are they using EclipseLink mainly because they used to use TopLink for the last 20 years and the learning curve (or benefit) to switch to Hibernate is too high? How often do you actually switch implementations? What keeps you from implementing the jOOQ API, and open-source its implementation?

And most importantly: Do you always adhere to the JPA API, even if Hibernate has lots of awesome, proprietary extensions that just happen to work so much better / easier?

No public review

Who exactly is “public”, and what are their main interests? Did you know that one of the major driving force for the JDK is Credit Suisse, being a large customer for Oracle in the Java environment, for instance? What is your stake and relation with Credit Suisse as your “public” representative?

Only one body involved in its evolution

Do you say that to YOUR customers also, about your own software as well?

SQL-oriented vs “a serious professional”

What’s not serious about SQL? In fact, SQL is reviewed by more entities than the JLS, let alone the JPA specs. Have you ever thought about that?

More basic

Fair enough. But don’t forget: You probably replaced your sophisticated EJB 2.0 framework (still a standard!) from the early 2000’s by a more basic one, which was (at the time) proprietary, had only one implementation, had no public review, nor multiple bodies involved in its evolution. It was, at the time, called Hibernate. And let me take the opportunity to cite Gavin King (creator of Hibernate) about when to use Hibernate:

gavin-king-on-hibernate

My reply to you, Jimmie

According to you, JPA has to be learned fully. So I challenge you to also FULLY learn SQL, including all the SQL:2011 clauses, including

  • window functions
  • grouping sets
  • common table expressions
  • distinct/match/type/submultiset/unique predicates
  • time periods
  • partitioned outer joins
  • lateral joins
  • standard OFFSET pagination
  • contextually typed value specifications
  • quantified comparison predicates

… and of course all the details of interoperation between SQL and XQuery, one of the most popular aspects of the SQL:2011 standard!

And please, learn this FULLY, regardless of whether these things are part of your specific implementation. Because as a serious professional, you shall fully learn SQL. And while you’re at that, learn also everything about execution plans, and join, fetch, buffer caching, cursor caching and all other sorts of algorithms. Because there is no excuse for not knowing which SQL transformations are generated by your database’s CBO.

I know you like standards, Jimmie. But beware of the fact that there are some people out there who cannot wait for a standard to evolve to solve their problems. They may have more immediate problems. More specific problems. Simpler problems. Problems that might be solved only by proprietary software, so far. Or problems that are solved by proprietary software, that can be put into production with much less effort than your standards, Jimmie.

Lower time-to-market is what your customer might consider “professional”. Not whether this or that tech is used.

Someone always invents something proprietary at some time. It might just evolve into a standard. It might have been a bad idea and not evolve into anything. Or it might evolve into a standard and then be the worst standard ever. See again: EJB 2.0. I think we all agree on that, today.

No, Jimmie, the world isn’t black and white. It isn’t just about standards vs. proprietary. About free (libre) vs. commercial. About free (gratis) vs. “closed”. It’s about creating value for your customer.

Oh, and Jimmie. I sincerely hope you’re neither a Windows, nor a Mac user, because that wouldn’t be free, and there is only one implementation of each OS, and no public review, and only one body involved in their evolutions. And yet, the whole world runs on one of them.

Thanks for your attention, Jimmie.

Tags: , , ,

4 responses to “The “Free”, “Standard”, “Open” Software Heresy”

  1. Mystery Man says :

    Thats a pretty vitriolic and spiteful reply that honestly doesn’t do your case any good.

    And before you jump on me too: I am a user of jooq (and JPA) so do not necessarily have the same opinions as “Jimmie”. You accuse “Jimmie” of painting the world in black and white and then do the same, but to the opposite extreme.

    • lukaseder says :

      Hi there,

      Thanks for your honesty. I do believe that this kind of rant doesn’t need to be taken too seriously. This was an honest attempt at challenging somewhat dogmatic pro-standards thinking as it is often encountered in our industry. Dogma is not good. Pragmatism is. While questioning one standard (JPA), I have promoted another (SQL).

      Dogma and taking such “criticism” (or as I said: rant) seriously, and much worse: personally, correlate strongly. I do hope you do not take any of this personal.

      Cheers,
      Lukas

      • Mystery Man says :

        Don’t get you. Personally? Why would I take it personally?

        Look, I’m pretty open to jOOQ, have tried it out, but need to spend more time with it in order to form a real opinion about it, positive or negative.

        I’m just saying for me such a “rant” comes across as vitriolic. If I were you I would be all the more careful considering you are selling something.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,968 other followers

%d bloggers like this: