Subject: Re: Back on topic: Re: FSBs and mechanized documentation
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2006 21:37:42 +0900

>>>>> "Rich" == Rich Morin <> writes:

    Rich> Here is one possible scenario:

    Rich> Companies such as Novell, RedHat, and Sun are fighting for
    Rich> mindshare in the OS wars.  Sun, in particular, wants to
    Rich> convince Open Source hackers to "get involved".  Given that
    Rich> Jonathan Schwartz has said:

    Rich>   We've got roughly 5000 people working on Solaris.

    Rich> it doesn't seem inappropriate for them to put a couple of
    Rich> programmers to work on mechanized documentation.

That's a persuasive scenario.  Fits with my X11 story, too.  (Not a
perfect fit, just along the lines of corporate contribution to open
source docs.)

    Rich> The investment is small

But I don't know about that.  "Doing it really right" is equivalent to
"solving AI", after all.  And I don't think the benefit (to the donor,
like Sun) is going to be proportional; you'll need to get to a certain
level, then it will take off.  Hard to say how high the initial hurdle
is.  I don't mean that to be discouraging, but realistic.  After all,
Sun probably could afford to throw *20* programmers at it, and that
would get something pretty cool done, I think.

    Rich> Finally, if the mechanization tools become polished and
    Rich> programmers' expectations get raised to demand them, small
    Rich> projects might jump in.

Well, I mentioned pydoc.  Many of the specialized projects I use in
the Python world are perceptibly evolving toward more pydoc-friendly
internal documentation, in ways like moving comments into docstrings,
docstrings to where pydoc expects them, etc.  It's slow, but I also
remember the charge I got when I made a bunch of those changes in a
project of my own, and then restarted its pydoc instance.

Very anecdotal, but, yes, I agree with you.

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