The Need for Diversity

I’m in shock. Amongst other emotions that I’m still trying to figure out.

I came into work this morning and checked my e-mail to find that Danny Smith from the MinGW project had sent an e-mail “Bye” to the mingw users and developers mailing list. Bye? What do you mean bye?! Just as I was getting excited about the future of MinGW with it’s spanking new modern compiler, the only guy working on it has quit. I don’t know what to think. Is it a bad joke? Has someone broke into his e-mail account and sent the message. The responses from the other MinGW developers leads me to believe not as they politely wished him well in his future endeavors as well as expressing their fear for the future of the project.

And fear we should. I was always concerned over the lack of progress with the MinGW compilers. The seemed stuck on 3.4.2 as the official release for a long time (and now, probably even longer). Danny had come to the rescue and offered hope that the wait was over and we’d soon be able to enjoy all the great improvements to gcc in recent years. But now it appears someone else will need to take on this challenge. And it appears to be a big challenge as there were a number of bug reports flowing in (one of which was mine) and I was getting worried that Danny would get overwhelmed.

The timing of this is interesting, especially after my blog entry yesterday. But I’ve also been in a number of discussions in Eclipse lately over the need for diversity for projects to succeed. If contributors to a project all come from one company, what happens to that project when the company needs those resources elsewhere. The CDT was able to survive such an incident because we had contributors from many organizations who stepped up to fill in the holes (and I still can’t thank them enough :). But there are projects at Eclipse who haven’t worked hard enough to make sure they diversify like this and it is something to worry about if you rely on such projects.

And that’s the position I find myself in. I was relying on MinGW’s 4.2 compiler to make Wascana a super appealing environment for Windows development, even for commercial use. Now, I’m not sure what I’ll do. Maybe it’s time to apply some focus again on the Windows SDK compiler and debugger integrations. Although, unless by some miracle Microsoft let’s me redistribute their SDK, it violates Wascana’s primary mission as a simple to install complete IDE. And I doubt I would have ample time to contribute to MinGW and I don’t really have the expertise anyway. And I have QNX work piling up. And CDT stuff to prepare for. Like I said, I’m still trying to figure this whole thing out…