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Lotus Founder Mitch Kapor: "It's Just a Matter of Time" Before Open Source Prevails

Lotus Founder Mitch Kapor: "It's Just a Matter of Time" Before Open Source Prevails

According to Lotus founder Mitch Kapor, now involved in the Open Source Application Foundation (OSAF), Microsoft's dominance in the desktop space makes open source the only viable model for developing new desktop apps.

OSAF's messaging and productivity application, "Chandler,"  for example, is developed in Python.

Kapor was talking at PyCon, in Washington, DC, where he gave the opening keynote last week. Among other remarks, Kapor said that  "It's just a matter of time" before open source becomes the predominant development model for software.

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Most Recent Comments
Roger Eaton 04/02/04 10:54:07 AM EST

As a member of the audience for Kapor's speech at PyCON, I'd say he made an excellent impression -- articulate, forceful, and something of a standup comic, besides. Here he is at an open source conference, very much in support, and he mentions first meeting Richard Stallman when they lived within a block of each other in Cambridge in the 80's -- "when he picketed me!" Got a good laugh.

Steve Holden 04/02/04 08:49:10 AM EST

Well we should remember that it's not a competition, and so if someone happens to like Perl, or Ruby, or even (cringe) Java, then good luck to them. I happen to prefer Python because I personally find it most in tune with my own development approach. I find it of more concern that large software companies now see open source as enough of a threat to start mounting FUD campaigns - SCO and Microsoft deserve each other, if you ask me.

Those who argue that 1-2-3 was a rip-off of VisiCalc seem to ignore the fact that there were text editors before Emacs, operating systems before Unix, and so on. Businesses continually develop other people's ideas. There was a package called FINAR that you could argue VisiCalc ripped off, if you'd like. Where would that get you?

Michael McLay 03/29/04 07:31:35 PM EST

While Ruby may be cool, and a bit more of a pure OO language than Python, there is little to distinguish it from Python. Alex Martelli has done a nice job of comparing the languages. His conclusion: "its a wash." Python and Ruby are almost identical, aside from syntax. The one distinction is that Python is a bit more conservative in the ability to overload semantics. This distinction makes Python a bit safer when building large applications that require stable semantics to be share by a large group of developers. Conclusion: Python is a bit more restrictive, but to the advantage of large collaborative efforts. Ruby lets you do more creative work, but there can be danger there if you are deploying large scale applications with many developers involved.

Fecal Extrusion 03/28/04 10:00:39 PM EST

Hey, anyone that extolls the virtues of open source
and is free advertisemet, can't be a complete waste!

Jay Nickson 03/28/04 04:08:46 PM EST

Mitch Kapor?

Isn't he the guy that made 1-2-3 for which no one at all remembers what 2 and 3 were but 1 was a straight rip of Bricklin's Visi-Calc? The guy was a *very big* parasite.

That was the first very big theft of work in the PC era. Followed rapidly by Norton doing another Norton Anthologies of others' works without bothering with credit, consent, credit or compensation.

Put up something from Bricklin, or Gibson, that would be interesting. Kapor is nearly a flatliner and his "thoughts" leave a bad taste.

HappyCamper 03/28/04 01:08:22 PM EST

If you haven't tried Python since 1.5, you really owe it to yourself to look at 2.3.


blog 03/28/04 07:14:38 AM EST

Kapor has a blog which is well worth bookmarking IMO

inglorian 03/28/04 07:02:52 AM EST

The bio reminds us that Kapor is the one who has the Long Bet with Ray Kurzweil that no computer - or "machine intelligence" - will pass the Turing Test by 2029.

xx99 03/28/04 07:01:52 AM EST

yup Kapor made his fortune by cocreating the PC's first killer app: Lotus 1-2-3.

there's a bio of him at his site.

PenguinMan 03/28/04 06:59:52 AM EST

Isn't Kapor the guy that ripped off Dan Bricklin's VisiCalc...errr..I mean designed Lotus 1-2-3 and co-developed it along with Jonathan Sachs?

NorForMe! 03/28/04 06:56:49 AM EST

I first used Python at 1.5 when it was pushed as a "prototyping language". I'm not coming back until they finish figuring out their object model and scoping rules.

Colonel Panic 03/28/04 06:55:43 AM EST

Python definitely has some advantages over Perl, but as a Rubyist, it doesn't offer me any advantages that would convince me to switch.

wfolta 03/28/04 06:54:55 AM EST

I've been a long-time Perl programmer, though I've not used a boatload of packages nor much of the horrid OO.

Perl is an expedient measure that (for me) doesn't scale up and has that horrible OO syntax. (So I never used it much.) If you're going to read someone else's Perl, you had better be "in the zone".

A couple of months ago, I'd written a quick Perl script that would "unstick" a co-worker's POP email. The problem is the Windows-based POP server is too stupid to realize a message doed not end in CRLF, so it just appends a period then CRLF thinking it's doing well. But the period ends up not being alone on a line, so it's not a valid termination to the message. Which messes up their email program. Sigh.

A week ago, the script broke because I hadn't properly accounted for the fact that the user might have hundreds of messages queued up. (I hadn't used a Perl POP package, which might've handled it, but just threw it together myself. Yes, that would've made the Perl code more competitive with the other two solutions.)

So I decided this might be a nice exercise to try Python. And it went together very quickly using Python's POP3 package.

PerlFan 03/28/04 06:53:47 AM EST

why not Perl?

wfolta 03/28/04 06:53:14 AM EST

A couple of years ago, I decided to look into Python and Ruby. Python looked OK, but not that different. I did like the indent-as-group idea, which was different. Ruby looked very cool. But it was impossible to get good documentation. It seemed like a Japanese cult with a few western initiates.

Well, MacOS X ships with Perl, Python, and Ruby (and PHP, and ...) so I figured I'd try them again.

I still find Ruby more intriguing, but I've settled on Python

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