Joyent fires their Slingshot at me…

So the folks over at Joyent have announced that Slingshot will be released under a dual licensing model: GPL and a commercial paid license. The surprising thing about their announcement is that they went out of their way to call me out over the licensing issues:

When we announced Slingshot, Andrew Shebanow at Adobe posted about Apollo, Competition, and Openness.

Next is SlingShot from Joyent and Magnetk. I love Ruby on Rails, so this product is very interesting to me. They basically have taken the all-in-one desktop server approach of Locomotive and turned it into an application runtime. Its a great idea, and one that opens up a lot more power to the local application than Apollo. Downsides are a lot of potential security issues (no sandbox?), the fact that the entire source of your application is distributed to the world whether you like it or not, and the fact that it is limited to Ruby on Rails applications. More disturbing, though, is that it sounds like Joyent will be charging a royalty for distributing applications based on their runtime unless you are a customer for their hosting service. Maybe they just plan on charging a flat fee for the SDK. Either way, this is much less open than the Apollo model where the SDK and runtime are both free of charge.

We are charging a license fee to people using Slingshot for commercial purposes. I believe Adobe does this for content producing tools, too. Joyent would like to invite Adobe to open source Apollo and the ecosystem around it (Flex, Flash). Don’t just make it free, free it.

And by way of response. Sandbox? What’s the sandbox Adobe Photoshop runs in? Entire source? More on that, later. Limited to Rails? Yes. Focus.

I have to admit that I’m a little mystified by their hostility. I thought I was pretty evenhanded and positive about their product. David Young, the CEO of Joyent did respond to the post accusing me of FUD, we had some back and forth on it, and I thought it was resolved. Heck, when I posted a while later about DHH’s post, David commented again to thank me. Why the change in attitude now? Beats me.

Anyhow, I tried to respond to the post on Joyent’s blog, but my post disappeared shortly after I submitted it. I thought it might have been a glitch so I posted the comment again. Again it disappeared. This might be a server problem on their end, but it also might be outright censorship, and it feels more like the latter to me since other people’s comments show up. In any event, the net has a way of routing around that sort of thing. Here’s my comment as I wrote it in their blog, unedited. I think my comments were critical but not inflammatory so I’m again at a loss to explain why they’d delete what I said, if that is in fact what happened. Are they really that incapable of dealing with criticism? I hope not.

Wow, holding a grudge, are we?

I addressed your sandbox comment on my original post, but you clearly don’t appreciate the trust model differences between small apps that are downloaded from the internet and large-scale traditional desktop applications. Or maybe you do appreciate the difference but are only targeting the latter. Or you just don’t care. I personally think you are making a big mistake ignoring the security issue but its certainly your right to do so.

I’m happy you’re releasing source under GPL. Duel licensing is an interesting choice, and I look forward to seeing how it works out for you business-wise. There is no question that monetizing a runtime framework is a tricky business.

Can’t really speak to the whole “free vs. free” thing. I’d certainly welcome such a thing but it isn’t something I have any control over. I do want to point out that even though Apollo isn’t fully open source, pieces of it are, like WebKit and Tamarin. That obviously won’t be enough to satisfy everyone, but we expect great things.

Bottom line is I wish you all the success in the world, and I hope you get over your hard feelings.

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~ by Andrew Shebanow on 17Apr07.

2 Responses to “Joyent fires their Slingshot at me…”

  1. Hi Andrew, I’m looking into what happened to your comments. We don’t edit like that. Apologies. I’ve just posted your comment.

    BTW: no grudge intended. Just pointing out that Adobe charges lots of money for the products required to build Apollo apps.

    What part of my post, in particular, belies hard feelings?

    [Andrew says] Glad to hear it was just a glitch. As for what made it seem like hard feelings, I guess it was that you spent the bottom third of the post talking about my post, which was old news. Why bring up the issues around security and licenses unless you were still upset?

    Finally, as regards pricing, I want to point out that both the Apollo runtime and the Apollo SDK are free. So is the Flex SDK. We only charge for the fancy schmany IDE. You don’t have to buy anything to develop for Apollo.

  2. I’ve had similar issues posting a comment (that didn’t) appear on adobe’s blogs and I’ve also had to wait days to get a couple comments approved. For example. Be careful of the whole moat vs. beam thing.

    [Andrew says] Adobe’s blogging setup requires us to moderate comments to avoid spammers. Sometimes people may be slow in getting through their queues. Sorry about that. FWIW, I thought I was pretty clear in saying I didn’t know *why* my comment disappeared. David Young of Joyent says it was a glitch and I believe him.

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