[Haskell-cafe] Playing with ATs again

Ivan Lazar Miljenovic ivan.miljenovic at gmail.com
Thu Aug 5 06:02:19 EDT 2010

Andrew Coppin <andrewcoppin at btinternet.com> writes:

> Well *I* didn't say that anything was dumb. I was merely pointing out
> that the much-touched "do it yourself" benefit of OSS is actually out
> of most people's reach. There surely can't be many people alive on
> Earth who actually understand type theory, and far fewer who
> understand it well enough to meddle with something as astonishingly
> complex as GHC. So really, there's little or no chance of anybody
> except the GHC devs fixing this. (If nothing else, the learning curve
> is pretty much vertical just to fix this one minor problem.)

Yes, but on the other hand people shouldn't complain that said clever
devs haven't done something if they're not smart enough to know if it's
possible to do so or not.

> On the one hand, it's nice that we have a freely available compiler at
> all. (And it's one of the best pieces of Haskell software I've seen to
> date.) On the other hand, I've seen too many people who write
> open-source software answer every query and issue simply with "patches
> welcome". As if that's a magic bullet to solve every problem and
> deficiency. There needs to be a reasonable balance.

Well, if I write software for free as a hobby and you want some feature
added to my package which doesn't interest me enough to write myself (or
I don't have time to do so), then if you really want it why don't you
write it yourself?

I think the best and most polished package I'm responsible for is
graphviz, and I started off with that by submitting a patch to Matthew
Sackman to add clustering support to it because I wanted such support.

Of course, people might not be able to add such functionality themselves
because they don't know how to do so (and even just saying "patches
welcome" on its lonesome is a bit rude/blunt), but I have no problem
with asking people to assist in developing a feature they really want to
something I maintain (the record label support now in graphviz is kind
of a case in point: someone asked me if I could add it in, I said I was
busy to do so at the time but offered to help them how to do so and
sketched out how to do so; in the end they weren't able to do so and
when I had time I added it in).

TL;DR: just because a library is freely available doesn't mean the
maintainer will go and willingly implement every single little feature
you want for no reason.  It's a two-way street.

Ivan Lazar Miljenovic
Ivan.Miljenovic at gmail.com

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