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Re: CLIM on CMU CL
Pardon my defensiveness, but we've never restricted the availability of
CLIM. We can't give it away for free because (unlike PARC with PCL) we
don't have an infinite bank account to draw on, and there is a lot sunk
into CLIM that has to be recouped. On the other hand, it has always
been the business objective to make CLIM a bundled part of "extended CL"
systems, commercial and public-domain. (More on this below.)
Sorry. I guess "restricted" was the wrong word. The system is proprietary
and was assumed (by us and others) to be fairly expensive. I'm very
pleased to learn that CLIM might be freely available some time in the
We think the latter. The more CLIM is locked in as a standard for CL,
the greater will be demand for our services as the company that made
CLIM happen. Moreover, there is a certain "for the common good" aspect
to this whole CLIM business in the first place. When we started the
CLIM effort back in 1988 it was designed as much to do our bit to help
save CL as it was to make us rich - it was largely defensive.
Great. It sounds like we have similar or compatible goals, so working out
the terms of cooperation should be straightforward. We're happy to
increase your fame and glory, and happy to have your code make our system
more usable by more people (thereby increasing our fame and glory).
... Our preference for the moment would
be to have the CLIM sources shipped with CMU CL be under a (free)
license that would prevent a user from recompiling or otherwise using
them with any other Lisp.
You could put such a legal restriction on the system, but I can't think of
any practical way to enforce this restriction against individual users. It
might be possible to keep other vendors from porting and distributing the
public-domain code. You might include a copyright notice that gives
blanket permission to use the code in CMU Common Lisp, but not in any
commercial Lisp (even if it is based on CMU CL). That might keep the
vendors from doing anything too blatant and obvious. I would advise
against any scheme that requires an individual license for each user or
site, even if the license is free -- it's a real hassle for everyone, as
the Kyoto Common Lisp people found out.
Alternatively, all the #+'s could be taken
out so that it would be very troublesome to port to Franz or Lucid or
Harlequin. In the best of all possible worlds (drawing on the PCL and
CLOS precedent) your developer(s) would do a "native reimplementation"
from the portable reference implementation that we provide, so the
sources wouldn't be of much use on any other Lisp.
That might work. We have no idea how hard it would be for one of these
companies to do their own port, based on the CMU CL version. If you think
it would be a serious deterrent, then maybe that's the way to go, rather
than getting the legal system into the act. Or use both methods.
It's one thing to have CLIM on CMU CL be competitive, the way your PCL
and (soon) CLOS are (will be). It's another to give away for free
sources that can just be recompiled into the EQ binaries that Lucid et
al are charging money for. The problem really is that we (ILA and the
vendors who have helped underwrite CLIM) need to recoup the investment
that's gone into the development, or come up with a good case for simply
writing it off. The same way many of the vendors were charging extra
for object systems (Flavors or PCL) for a while, we think the market
will bear an additional cost for the value that CLIM provides, which,
after all, we believe to be substantial.
Well, if all these companies feel they must charge extra for CLIM, instead
of bundling it, then this whole public-domain idea is pretty risky. Even
if their customers are unable to switch to the public domain version, this
whole thing would make the vendors look terrible. It's bad enough to have
a free Common Lisp around, but if the free version contains packages the
big guys charge extra for, a lot of customers are going to get surly.
On the other hand, if CLIM is bundled by the big vendors, then the version
in CMU CL is just another part of the big funnel sucking people into the
Lisp world. The current confusing state, with so many competing
unser-interface systems, is hurting Lisp relative to C, and in an area that
could be one of Lisp's greatest strengths.
Anyway, we'll pick up the TeX files, learn more about CLIM, and then get
back to you to discuss where we want to go with this and what sort of
timetable makes sense. We'll have to learn more about your CLOS needs in
order to understand how much work this would be.
I'd like to let the other key people in my project know that we're
discussing this. In addition to Rob and me, there are two other
full-timers (William Lott and Paul Gleichauf), plus two undergrads (Mike
Garland and Lawrence Chan). It will be hard to evaluate the various
options without getting these guys involved. Any problem with my telling
them about this if I swear them all to secrecy and make clear that this is
just in the preliminary discussion stage?