Dec 12 2007

Running a community – lessons from

As described in my last post, we’re experimenting with using JAXB to unmarshall/marshall docx documents.

The specification is thorough, and the reference implementation (v2.1.5) seems to work well.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of

Given that one of my hats is to develop a community around the plutext projects, I’m trying to be aware of what helps or hinders this process.

So in the spirit of constructive criticism (I’d really like to see momentum grow around JAXB-RI), here are some observations:

  1. there are at least two places to go to for discussion (the mailing lists, and the   Metro and JAXB forum).  Where should you post? Which is going to get the better response? Why two options? In this case, the forum seems more active.
  2. its much harder than it needs to be to get the source code. There is no anonymous CVS (or SVN) access.  You need to be registered, and to have applied for the Observer role.  Then the instructions omit the cvs login step.  Eventually it worked, but in the meantime, it took a bit of digging to find a link to the zipped up sources.  There are outdated blog entries to disregard along the way.
  3. once you do have the source code, and given that JDK 1.6 introduced JAXB 2.0 in rt.jar, there should be prominent instructions for using 2.1 in Eclipse (ie use JDK 1.5)
  4. I couldn’t find JAXB 2.1.5 in Maven repositories. Again, outdated blog entries.
  5. the website is pretty slow

Now, none of these problems will stop the determined user. But I’m sure their cumulative effect is to make many others give up.

For those like me who try to get a quick sense of how active a project is by looking at the volume of traffic on the mailing list or forum before making any further commitment, problem #1 above amounts to bad marketing if nothing else.

This is a pity, because as I said, JAXB 2.1.5 is good stuff.

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