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Re: High-Profile Advocacy Opportunity: VbulletinForum

From: "Donnacha Mac Gloinn" <postgresql(dot)org(at)donnacha(dot)com>
To: "Simon Riggs" <simon(at)2ndquadrant(dot)com>
Cc: "pgsql-advocacy" <pgsql-advocacy(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: High-Profile Advocacy Opportunity: VbulletinForum
Date: 2004-06-22 21:49:00
Message-ID: (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-advocacy
On Tue, 22 Jun 2004 20:51:07 +0100, "Simon Riggs"
<simon(at)2ndquadrant(dot)com> said:
> Donnacha: are your associates aware of such issues with MySQL? 

Although some vB team members threw up technical complications as the
barrier to creating a PostgreSQL edition, when I and a couple of others
shook the tree a bit, it became apparent that, while there is some
acceptance that it would be NICE not to have to rely entirely upon
MySQL, there isn't the organisational will to actually put the effort
in.  The technical excuses (quite rightly derided on this list) are
merely a fig leaf.

The crystalisation of this was that, when the MySQL AB got in touch last
week to hit them up for licensing fees, they quietly rolled over.  I
tried to highlight that this was precisely the sort of ransom situation
you get when you lack supplier diversity and that it might be a good
idea to move an PostgreSQL edition from being a vague aspiration to
actually putting it onto some sort of timeline.  The official response
was more or less along the lines of "We are in contact with MySQL AB,
we're working something out, it won't affect the customers, so, quit
bugging us".

Financially, vB are riding high at the moment, have the best product in
their field and don't feel under any immediate pressure to pursue the
long-term advantages that PostgreSQL could offer.  That's understandable
but frustrating for those of us who are thinking ahead, which is why I
wrote the following response:

< post begins>>>>>>>

"People seem to be blind to that fact that, as customers, anything
vBulletin pays, we pay. I saw this same blindness when SCO successfully
conned EV1, the reaction of most customers was "oh well, as long as EV1
is paying it and not me". Then everyone was surprised to see EV1's
prices jump.

Anything that increases vB's base costs will affect their price
flexibility and competitiveness. I'm not sure how much MySQL AB will
charge vB but Zak's comment in this thread regarding vB's price suggests
that we are talking about a small percentage of each and every sale.
That may not sound like a big deal but if serious competition to vB
emerges, possibly one using a genuinely free DB like PostgreSQL, this
extra tax will hobble vB's abiltiy to price-match.

VB deservedly lead their niche but I'm alarmed that they seem to be a
little too relaxed about their position. Things move fast in software
and no-one's lead is unassailable. If they can't retain the hunger that
got them to where they are today someone else will pop up to eat their
lunch. The idea that something, such as PostgreSQL, which could make
their product more powerful is relegated far down their To-Do list
leaves the door wide open to others.

I understand that any organisation only has a limited number of projects
it can handle efficiently but I would have thought vB was in an ideal
position to, in effect, outsource this problem by funding the
development of extended inserts or whatever it is you need via Apparently, it wouldn't be hard to do, it wouldn't cost
much (certainly nothing like what you'll be shelling out to MySQL AB)
and you'd gain a lot of goodwill in the FOSS community.

Of course, the more complicated side of the equation would be creating
an edition of vB to remove the current MySQL work-arounds and to take
advantage of PostgreSQL's features. That effort would, however, be more
than justified by the extra manoeuvrability it would give your company.
Also, a lot of the work you'd be doing on Stored Procedures etc is work
you'll have to do anyway as soon as MySQL catches up.

As the producers of an extremely popular software package, the vB team
are inundated with feature requests and probably haven't even had a
proper chance to regain their breath after the release of vB3. All the
same, they should stand back and look at the longer-term picture. I've
run vB's technical objections to PostgreSQL (as variously stated in
these forums) past various people in a position to understand such
things and the general consensus is "You've got to be kidding". I can't
help getting the impression that the real argument against it is that
dealing with another db just sounds like too much hassle.

Somewhere out there, you can be pretty sure, there are hungry
programmers to whom it won't be too much hassle."

<<<<<<< post ends>

So, my current feeling is that, for organisational rather then technical
reasons, PostgreSQL vB is NOT going to happen BUT I'm still extremely
interested in understanding what their technical objections are because,
hopefully, a decent FOSS forum project will turn up sometime and, when
it does, understanding those issues will help me to make sure it takes
full advantage of PostgreSQL.  Essentially, what's needed is forum
software that is at least as efficient as vB, as easy to use, as easy to
manage and, hopefully, more scalable than vB.

The most popular FOSS forum at the moment, PhpBB (PHP/MySQL), is soundly
beaten by vB on all those scores and, unfortunately, when you're dealing
with large forums, you need the very best, the licensing fee is pretty
much immaterial because a lack in any of those areas will cost you
plenty over time.

On an idealistic "Communication as a Human Right" level, however, it's
vital that everyone have access to completely free and technically
excellent forum software.  I believe that the best way to achieve this
is to build it from PostgreSQL up. So, if it's okay with everyone here,
I'll be getting back to you with a more indepth summation of vB's
technical issues with PostgreSQL, hoping to glean the insights I'll need
to get such a project rolling.



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