Irrelevant thoughts of an oracle DBA

1 April 2008

open source or freeware

Filed under: opinion — dhoogfr @ 9:39

Say you have put in a lot of effort in developing a pl/sql package that helps you in your job.
You think it does a reasonable decent job and you are thinking about releasing it to the rest of the oracle community.
However you are affraid to lose control over your application. I mean, you have put so much work in it, can you then just give it out hand or would you still want to control it?

Of course you could wrap it and distribute it as freeware, but who would install a wrapped package from the internet into their production databases?
You could try to work arround that by splitting of part of the package needing a higher level of privileges into separate packages which are left unwrapped and can be installed into a different schema. But would this be sufficient?

You would also be the sole responsible for support and bug fixing as you are the only one with access to the code. That is the only one, excluding those who have access to an unwrapper, with which they can revert your code back into its original state (including variable names).

Another option would be to share the source code, but what would happen then? Probably people would start modifying your code.
Is this a bad thing? Maybe that depends if they afterwards would start bothering you with questions as “why it doesn’t work” or not.
Would you allow people to send in their modifications or would you only maintain your own version? Could these modified “versions” then still use the same name as your original package or not?

Then there is the question of licensing. Would you just publish the code, or would you put a licensing on it? If so, which one?

Many questions and few answers.
So tell me, what would you do and how would you do it?

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5 Comments »

  1. [...] Dustin Wax wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptOf course you could wrap it and distribute it as freeware, but who would install a wrapped package from the internet into their production databases?… [...]

    Pingback by open source or freeware — 1 April 2008 @ 9:51 | Reply

  2. [...] Cal Evans wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptAnother option would be to share the source code, but what would happen then? Probably people would start modifying your code. Is this a bad thing? Maybe that depends if they afterwards would start bothering you with questions as “why … [...]

    Pingback by open source or freeware | Guide Open Source — 1 April 2008 @ 10:40 | Reply

  3. Tricky one. Years ago I put together an Oracle Form that operated as a query tool (type in the SQL, press execute and get the results).
    I eventually put the FMB (source) on a forum in response to someone asking about such a thing. I didn’t put any licence on it as such.
    [Hey it’s still available at http://pipetalk.quest-pipelines.com/default.asp?action=9&read=11066&fid=42#44079%5D
    In this case, it probably only had a limited audience and I hadn’t really encountered the “open source” world (and I’m not sure there is one for Oracle Forms).

    But it isn’t a decision you have to make in one go. I’d suggest giving some more details about what the package does and maybe release a wrapped version that people can test/play with. Then if there’s a lot of interest or requests for changes/enhancements you can choose a path then. That may be having a select few others having access to the source code for changes or opening up the whole source code but maintaining the availability of only your version.

    “who would install a wrapped package from the internet into their production databases”. Depends on the privileges needed to execute it. Privileges can be limited, dependencies can be tracked (to a degree – EXECUTE IMMEDIATE might cause issues) and SQL traced, so there can be some level of trust. Part of that comes from the reputation of the source. For example, I use the free PSPad editor. It’s not open source, but I don’t have a problem using it to edit files containing sensitive data.

    Comment by Gary — 1 April 2008 @ 23:25 | Reply

  4. Gary,

    Thanks for your answer.

    The application in question helps in maintaining cbo statistics and is currently distributed amongst my coworkers (in a wrapped form), but it is not yet widely used.
    I have been looking into the possibility of using sourceforge.net. I believe they allow you to control who works as a developer on the project and they have tools to track bugs and feature requests as well. This could provide a solution for me.

    Comment by dhoogfr — 2 April 2008 @ 8:15 | Reply

  5. [...] Filed under: Uncategorized — dhoogfr @ 12:22 A while ago I had written a post with the question if I would release a package as open source or just provide a wrapped form of it. [...]

    Pingback by AnalyzeThis « Irrelevant thoughts of an oracle DBA — 21 July 2008 @ 15:27 | Reply


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