Struts/JSF update: why don't I open source it?

The obvious rebuttal to the previous Struts/JSF post is: “If you’re so smart, why don’t you open source your solution and show the whole world your bright ideas?”

And perhaps I should. But open sourcing is significantly more work than just writing an in-house project. For one thing, you have to keep from having in-house dependencies. That part’s relatively easy. Harder is finalizing an API which is generic enough to be generally useful, but not overblown.
For example, I don’t have a use for mutli-lingual error messages, but you cut yourself off from most of the world if you have an English-only attitude. One of the annoying things about Struts is that it requires internationalization of everything– you can’t just give it text, it requires the name of a text field where it can look in a language-specific file.

The best way to get a good API is to start out with a minimally useful API, throw it out to a bunch of testers, and evolve it based on actual needs at a variety of places. Which means you need to get interest in it and foster a community of developers. And that takes time and effort and a willingness to toot one’s own horn.

At the same time, I’ve found myself reinventing the Struts wheel here and there. Particularly for error handling. Many of the design decisions they made were good. Still, I’ve written only a tiny amount of code, and it’s about as full-featured as I need. Much of the value in a good framework is in the design patterns it enforces; the code itself is rarely particularly clever.

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