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Subject: Re: [boost] Boost Evolution
From: Robert Ramey (ramey_at_[hidden])
Date: 2016-05-17 14:11:18

On 5/17/16 10:27 AM, David Sankel wrote:
> On Tue, May 17, 2016 at 10:37 AM, Robert Ramey <ramey_at_[hidden]> wrote:
>> Take a look at the CMake history. There was a huge effort undertaken from
>> the top to switch to CMake for build / test. It was a failure because it
>> tried to do it from the top down. I'm thinking that the promoters of this
>> idea concluded that the problem wasn't ambitious enough and added
>> deployment to the task and built rypll. This had as key collaborators our
>> most capable and hard core developers - including David Abrahams and Eric
>> Neibler. Huge amount of expended effort but not much came out of it.
> This is a false account of what happened.

well it's my recollection and I was there. I suppose that other's might
have different one though.

> After
> the so-called top-down transition to git (which was good for C++, but bad
> for insiders),

I don't know if I qualify as an insider, but it seems to me that
transition to Git has been a good thing and was never seen as anything
else by anyone.

> the steering committee somehow came to the conclusion that
> their job wasn't to steer.

That was one person's characterization. I think it's misleading

> After last week's future of boost session (or
> lack-of rather), my understanding is that this is being revisited.
> Boost cannot evolve the way it has in the past.

I don't think it can evolve in any other way. I think recent history,
economic theory and common sense supports this.

> When it was getting
> started, we didn't have over-representation of groups who benefit from the
> status-quo. We didn't have the idea of servicing the "Boost community"
> instead of the "C++ community". Either the steering committee will step up
> to protect the original vision of Boost, or the vision of Boost will change
> to serve the insiders.

I think this is a total misunderstanding about how boost works and has
to work. The operant rule is and has to be, that people who do the work
get to decide how to do it. People take initiatives and sometimes they
become accepted and sometime they don't. It's evolution not intelligent
design. Boost has been successful because the "system" floats the best
contributions to the top while lesser one's sink to the bottom. It is
not now, and can never be a democracy. If you want influence, you have
to take on a task - you have earn it. Maybe it's not fair but ...

> This means life or death for boost and, frankly,
> it's been dying over the past few years.

In part boost has been a victim of it's own success. As we filled out
the capabilities of C++03 and the fundamental components got absorbed
into the standard library, things were sort of winding down. This is as
it should be. It should only survive as long as it's useful - it's not
government institution.

I think that what saved Boost is C++11. This opened up whole new
territory for new libraries. It also made things like template meta
programming accessible to many more people. I'm seeing another 15 years
of boost success - after that? who knows? who cares?

I think we're on a good path. It's a very tough job - harder than ever
- and we're making head way on it as I mentioned above. And really,
Other than some of C++ cohorts, I don't see much progress toward the
future made by other computing initiatives.

I'm optimistic.

Robert Ramey

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