[sldev] [PROTOCOL] Protocol Documentation

Zha Ewry zha.ewry at gmail.com
Wed Oct 3 10:56:41 PDT 2007

Rob, thanks for that very clear statement. Zero was very clear, and you
were, during the kick off a few weeks back, that Linden Labs has to balance
several things at once. Linden has to grow and evolve the existing code
base, while working towards the new design. A lot of what people are going
to want, in an open, extensible specification won't much help Linden with
their short term goals. That's fine, and  I, and hopefully other particpants
here understand that having Linden blow up in the short term, in service of
the long term is a bad thing  By the same token, I think, and hope that
Linden understands that longer term, they need to address these issues.

Hopefully, most of us aren't asking Linden to do the impossible, all at
once. But.. I think we are stating, very clearly, that for formal
specifications, we need more than source code. As you've observed, the AWG
is the place a lot of that is going to happen. That's entirely sane, to me.

A clear statement of direction that says "We expect, as we migrate to the
next generation architecture, that the wiki hosted specifications will
become the default way of documenting and understanding the system at the
protocol and component interaction level" or words to that effect, would be
very nice ;-)

I don't expect an endeavor of this sort to be easy, painless, or move in a
straight line. I do hope, that over time, we'll all end up on the same page,
as to what we, as various players in the process need to do collectively, to
get to a point where we can say "Look, here's a fully openly developed
you can read it and implement it. Here's Linden Lab's implementation of the
spec, and here's the OpenSim one, and look, they work together."

- Zha

On 10/3/07, Rob Lanphier <robla at lindenlab.com> wrote:
> Hi Argent,
> Comment below:
> On 10/3/07 8:08 AM, Argent Stonecutter wrote:
> > I'm not knocking Linden Labs here. Open Sourcing the client was an
> > amazingly cool thing, it was really courageous of them to do that, and
> > I'm not criticizing them where they haven't gone further by any means.
> > I'm just trying to promote another kind of openness... one that's as
> > old a part of the software industry as Open Source and just as
> > important... and arguing that it needs some kind of commitment from LL
> > that they don't seem to have made:
> >
> > * LL: we can't log every change, it would be cluttered and irrelevant
> > * LL: the source code is very clear on how all of this works
> > * LL: it [the code] is very clear documentation
> > * LL: so this whole discussion about documenting the capability API is
> > just so people can steal code?
> >
> > Again, I'm not saying they have to make that commitment, I'm just
> > asking them to.
> Part of working with a company that's trying to be open like we are is
> understanding that not every utterance by every person here is the
> formal written and undebatable policy of Linden Lab.  "LL" above is some
> combination of Tess and I, speaking off-the-cuff at Zero's office hour.
> One of the biggest challenges we face by investing in documentation is
> that we're still experimenting and changing things.  It's not clear what
> exactly we should lock down.  Moreover, we're not feeling a lot of
> competitive pressure on this front relative to other really urgent
> things that we need to do.  So, we're not investing heavily in protocol
> documentation right now.  That almost certainly isn't a permanent
> situation, but it's where we are today.
> Most of the effort we do spend in formal protocol documentation is going
> to be under the auspices of the Architecture Working Group, since
> anything we do there needs to be detailed and formal in order to gain
> momentum and credibility.  That's not terribly helpful in the near term,
> but I hope that provides assurance that we don't intend to let the
> status quo persist.
> In other areas, we'll have to be a little more clever in making sure
> things get documented correctly, and that's going to involve getting
> help from you all.  We strongly encourage everyone who wants good
> protocol documentation to pitch in here:
> https://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Protocol
> I'll encourage everyone at Linden Lab to participate in building this
> out, but I'll have a much easier time of it if there's a lot of outside
> activity on those pages (thus being a very leveraged investment on our
> part).
> Rob
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