Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Google's Rubin on Open Source, Android, and Community

As quoted in El Reg, Google's Andy Rubin gave a press briefing today at Google I/O about the upcoming Android operating system releases, and said:

the Android project is "light on community and heavy on open source". He said it was not an option to develop Android completely in the open because it becomes difficult to tell when the platform is ready for release.

"Open source is different than a community-driven project," Rubin said. "We're building a platform. We're not building an app. When you're building a platform, you evolve APIs, you add APIs, you deprecate APIs. We're always adding new functionality ... so when you add new APIs, typically, in my opinion, community processes don't work. It's really hard to tell when you're done. It's hard to tell what's a release and what's a beta. When you're dealing with a platform, that just doesn't work, because all these [app] developers have an expectation that all those APIs are done and completed on a certain date.

Lance Ulanoff of PC Magazine was the one who asked the actual question, apparently; here's his reporting of Rubin's answer. I'm glad he asked the question, and I'm glad Rubin was frank with his answer. I don't know what the right answer is, but I think it's very interesting to compare what Rubin said with this viewpoint from the ASF website.

Meanwhile, as I said to a friend a few days ago, have you noticed that the word of the day in the computer industry seems to be "ecosystem"?

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