I'm not taking it as a criticism at all. But, as project
maintainer, I'm sure you can appreciate my position. I can't say
unilaterally that I want to appeal to one group over the other.
GNUstep currently most appeals to former NeXT people who are into
Mac OS X. However, a lot of these people also say that it's time
for GNUstep to move forward with it's GUI look. A friend of mine
owns a software company that was once fairly well known in the NeXT
world and he's said the same thing.
I don't believe that changing the look will affect the people who
are currently interested in GNUstep, especially since many of them
currently feel the same way I do: That GNUstep needs a facelift.
Gregory Casamento -- OLC, Inc
# GNUstep Chief Maintainer
----- Original Message ----
From: Dr Tomaž Slivnik <address@hidden>
To: Gregory John Casamento <address@hidden>
Sent: Monday, November 12, 2007 2:32:56 PM
Subject: Re: GNUstep theming (was Re: Objective-C 2.0 and other new
features in Leopard)
What is the perceived need GnuStep wants to satisfy? What is
GnuStep's goal / target audience/market?
Other than saying "as many users as possible" I'm not sure what
else to say.
No system/API/environment should ever specifically target a group
of people. People should find us useful and decide to use our
stuff, if they want to. But I will not say "we're only for group X
or group Y".
Let me say it as clearly as possible ... GNUstep's goal is to have
as many users as we can. I suppose this means becoming "mainstream"
but I also believe that updating GNUstep's look to be more modern
can't be a bad thing.
Please do not take this note as criticism - I know I am in no
position to criticize, since I have not contributed to GnuStep,
although I wish I had the time to, both technically and financially,
as I think it is a very worthwhile project. However, this is what I
1) The strategy described above is too vague and do not think it will
get you success:
a) Having as many users as possible seems to be more of a wish
than a strategy.
b) Having *more* users is a good idea, but having as many as
possible, I think, is not. Do you really want as many users as
possible, even if it means lowering your standards? Does the world
need another OS/GUI/development platform for the masses? Does it have
room for one?
2) You can't be all things to all men.
Forget - to start with - *everyone* wanting to use GnuStep, if they
want to. You need a niche that you cater for - to which you offer
something nobody else can, or, at least, to offer it 10x better than
Here is a key question you need to be able to answer: why would
anyone want develop on GnuStep, rather than Mac OS X? Where is your
When NeXT came out, it had a definite target niche: the education
market. Then it refocussed itself to the "mission critical" market -
financial institutions etc.
NeXT may not have been a commercial success overall, but I know for a
fact it was a great success, if nowhere else, among maths academics.
NeXT and NeXTStep were way ahead of their time - their advantages
were numerous; but here are just some of them:
- bullet-proof and extremely reliable - none, and I mean none, of the
other mainstream alternatives came close in terms of reliability,
consistency, simplicity of use and "just working".
- a completely new development paradigm, resulting in faster
development cycle, greater application reliability, code reuse etc.
- an unsurpassed platform for software development and technical
You do not have the same advantages as NeXTStep had - if for no other
reason, because there is Apple.
But GnuStep does have all advantages of Objective C / OpenStep; the
only platform except Apple to offer these; but potentially offering
a) ability to run on non-Apple hardware;
b) open source (could be important to users not wanting to be
tied to a proprietary solution);
c) not burdened with having to support legacy technologies
(Carbon, HFS+, resource forks etc.);
d) potentially cleaner design and less cluttered, nicer, more
consistent NeXT-style GUI;
e) potential to develop cleaner design of support for new
f) not constrained to include marketing hacks with no technical
benefit (like integrated access to the Apple Store in iTunes etc.)
Niches you could potentially appeal to:
1) former NeXT users
2) technical / mathematical users (as NeXTStep)
3) Apple is not terribly solid and reliable. If you can be more solid/
reliable, you could potentially target users from the "mission
critical" market - like financial institutions. Those guys have a lot
of money and don't mind - often prefer - to develop their entire
platform in-house. To them, quality is paramount and money is no
object, so if you can convince them you're the best, you're in.
My guess would be that your core group of users are ex-NeXTStep/
OpenStep developers. What about Cocoa/Mac OS X developers? I'm not so
sure you appeal to them as much - why would one of them want to
switch to/develop for GnuStep? Outside of those two groups of
developers, I believe you will find it hard to get any people to
switch to GnuStep at all. Am I correct - is the current makeup of
this mailing list consistent with this view?
I believe the substance of what you have to offer is much more
important than having a good web site (which, however, is also
important), or your slogan (of no consequence in my opinion), or your
default theme (which I not only think is not important and will not
win you new users; but potentially puts you at risk of losing appeal
to your core NeXT group of supporters).
Here are some suggestions:
#1: you need a simple way of installing GnuStep. I've only ever used
GnuStep off a live CD; not because I am not capable of compiling it
from source, but because I have not (yet) had the time. I make small
steps from time to time, only to have to stop and get back to some
other priority. You have dependency on several libraries which have
to be built - and I, for my own reasons, want those manually built,
not installed by Fink/DarwinPorts. Provide a .dmg containing a .pkg
(for Mac OS X), and an equivalent thing for Linux/FreeBSD/etc., and
overnight your fame will spread.
#2: (i) more development frameworks. (ii) Reliable/bullet-proof/
debugged frameworks. (iii) Faster/optimized frameworks.
#3: applications. How about:
- to appeal to mathematical/technical market:
- a GnuStep clone of Mathematica notebook interface / do a
deal with Wolfram to develop one for GnuStep;
- ? etc. ?
- to appeal to the mission critical / finance market:
- an Objective C framework for derivatives pricing
- a Lotus Improv/Quantrix clone
- ? etc. ?
- educational software - to target schools
#4: how about producing an install DVD which formats a PC's disk and
automatically installs a GnuStep/Linux distribution?
Or doing a deal with a PC manufacturer to sell - or for you to
sell - cheap PCs with GnuStep/Linux preinstalled?
Or doing a package deal to sell PCs with GnuStep/Linux pre-
installed cheaply to schools? Can you get a computer company to
donate equipment to schools and the GnuStep team installs the OS and
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