Subject Re: [IBO] Firebird and IBX
Author Helen Borrie
At 05:13 PM 19-10-01 -0400, Sean Leyne wrote:
>As a member of the Firebird Admin group, I must respond to the comment you
>have made:
> > I highly doubt the people working on Firebird care much about IBX. A lot of them don't
> > even use Borland dev tools, let alone IBX.
>Nothing could be further from the truth.

First, as another member of the Firebird Admin group, I want to ask you (Sean) to refrain from pronouncing on things like this with your Firebird Admin hat on.

Secondly, as a member of the human race, in my opinion Jason hit the nail right on the head. Who else in Firebird Admin, other than you, is anything but neutral about IBX compatibility?

The people working on Firebird are C/C++ programmers. Of those who can/do program in Pascal, you are the only one I have noticed having any concern about making sure FB continues to work with IBX (no matter how silly IBX gets, LOL!!)

>There are a lot of Firebird project members/followers which use Borland
>tools. The reality is that most Firebird users, only know about it through
>their use of Interbase and the Borland tools. Accordingly, support for
>Firebird by those tools is very important to us.

Notice that this (IBO) forum contains quite a significant number of the original InterBase Developer Initiative membership. IBDI started right here. Here, more than anywhere else in the virtual world of the Internet, are the very folk you are talking about. Nearly everyone cut his/her client/server teeth on the BDE and the LIBS that shipped with Delphi and BCCB, tried and rejected IBX in some cases, and arrived at IBO.

In future, how many folk do you think will discover Firebird in their Borland IDE installation? Heck, how many even found it on their Delphi 6/Kylix disks?

I won't speak for Firebird but, for myself, I will say this: I regret the activity by Borland and some of its staff that has resulted in a rift in the Delphi/IB community but, in view of Borland's intractable position, I don't consider "support by Firebird for these tools is important to us". If Borland's IBX were the only way to connect to Firebird from Delphi/BCB, there would be some cause for concern, I guess. But it's not the only option and, what's more, it's bottom of the stack of options available. It hasn't ever been otherwise.

What I think *is* important to us (Firebird) is not to degrade existing support and, wherever possible, to improve it in consistent, predictable and non-conflicting ways - as I believe our developers have done. It behoves the tool developers (Borland included) to work collaterally with Firebird to take advantage of the enhancements. I consider that continuing support by Firebird for their tools is a heck of a lot more important to Borland. It's really up to Borland (and all tools developers) whether they pick up the ball.

>At the moment, there are only minor issues of IBX support for Firebird -- in
>the Admin components. So, the status quo is 'acceptable'. The IBX/Firebird
>situation will change in the future, as both Firebird and IBX
>updates/changes. When that time comes, obviously their will be much
>discussion about the direction to take.

These minor issues are more relevant to the main API than the flawed and incomplete Services API. If Jeff Overcash continues to exert the control he does now over the IBX source then, apart from a fork, there is no way that IBX can be counted on, even for the next Firebird sub-release. I haven't seen any will on anyone's part to go down that byway.

>By the same token, we would welcome anyone who would like to port and
>maintain any Borland data-access component to support Firebird.

Don't take this as a Firebird announcement that Firebird is begging for someone to come along and maintain Borland data-access components to support Firebird. It probably wasn't what you intended to say, Sean, but it came out that way. It is you who have this anxiety about IBX being made capable of supporting the Firebird features. It is a battle you are waging alone in the bpi newsgroups. It doesn't seem important to anyone else.

> The IBX/Firebird situation will change in the future, as both Firebird and IBX
> updates/changes. When that time comes, obviously their will be much discussion
> about the direction to take.

There has already been much discussion about the direction to take. It needs to be emphasised that the Firebird developers don't "endorse" any particular connectivity tool, for Delphi, CPPB, Java or anything else.

Firebird is in no sense driven by the needs of any particular catchment of application programmers, other than those who are prepared to do the work. Its focus is primarily the C (soon to be C++) source code. It is up to the third parties out here to keep application development tools up to date with the bug fixes and enhancements.

Yes, it would feel good if Borland got into this but I think the bottom line is that, under current circumstances, the Borland InterBase commercial product line is struggling to survive with minimal resources for R & D and QA, so nothing is going to change real soon. (Imagine what morale is like in IB R & D!!) Firebird has already spent more than a year encouraging Borland to come to the open source round table, without response.

Firebird isn't going to hold back or go retro in order to keep its database development in sync with IBX or, indeed, any other connectivity solution. That, I am sure, is much closer to Firebird's attitude as I comprehend it.

>> [Jason Wharton] If Firebird wants to garner a permanent place in the industry it
>> needs to build its own "home-court advantage".

> [Sean Leyne] This is happening, we have an ODBC driver, a native Type-4 JCA/JDBC
> driver (no InterClient/InterServer required), other data access tools also support
> Firebird.

That's not a counter-argument to Jason's statement. Sean, as you are only too well aware, Firebird is pegged by a critical lack of development funds to allow important projects to spurt forward and reach a production-capable state. The need to secure development funding is the most critical non-programmer task confronting Firebird.

Don't kid yourself that the Firebird developer team members are all going to be willing to slave away year after year, unrewarded, making Firebird better, just to enhance Borland's product line and provide high-quality free software to a demanding horde of freeloaders. Advancing Firebird isn't about holding back, it's about getting right in there together with people who have an interest in advancing it.

>> [JW] .. but what I do know is that there isn't anyone within Firebird lobbying for
>> Borland to keep IBX friendly towards Firebird, nor is there a fork of IBX to
>> accomplish the same.
>> Someone out there somewhere is going to have to do that.

> [SL] Jason, it's kind of hard to lobby an organization which doesn't answer email or
> phone calls on the subject!

Quod erat demonstrandum.

>> [JW] It makes me wonder how many people are going forward with supporting and
>> using Firebird because early on I made a committed stand to support and back it
>> with IBO? I'd like you to assure the commitment and focus will be reciprocated...

> [SL] Again, don't quite follow "reciprocated"?

With "free, but not free beer" goes the concept that, for the product to gain and grow for the benefit and security of its users, there is an obligation on those who accept its benefits. For third-party developers like Jason and companies that use their products and Firebird, that translates most obviously to providing funds to commission developments they desire. Jason and one prominent IBO user (Craig Leonardi) have already done that. I think, so far, they are the only ones who have contributed in this way.

They should quite properly expect a better reciprocation than to have a member of Firebird Admin, purporting to speak on behalf of the Firebird team, thumbing down the product after a cursory and remarkably unscientific inspection. I think this is known as "looking a gift horse in the mouth".

If Firebird doesn't get into symbiotic relationships with commercial enterprises, where do you think the development funds are going to come from?

Firebird can't help being interested in the products whose support provides the means to carry it forward. What kind of payback comes from throwing hard-won resources at providing compatibility with products whose promoters regard Firebird as a competitor which, from their behaviour, they are determined to spoil?

If you want to carry this discussion on (wearing your Sean Leyne hat) do please take it to the IBDI list.

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