I wasn’t going to give attention to this.
In my opinion, bad publicity is also free publicity. And that’s not deserved.
I really don’t care that people use Activiti, tweak and patch it and not share it. Many companies do that. But when they publicly shout out that they fork Activiti to create an own engine, they hurt the Activiti community. They hurt the community because the confusion they cause. And when you touch the Activiti community, you touch me. And so I decided to publicly talk about it.
The whole open source ecosystem is based on trust. It is based on people discussing problems and find solutions together, and working for a common cause to make the world better. Many companies work on open source and build own products on top of open source software and contributing certain pieces back. That’s how open source works.
I know the people in Camunda for at least 5 years. Even before we worked together on jBPM I discussed software and bpm with them in the pub. I really enjoy(ed) working with the people from Camunda on Activiti, especially Daniel whom I connected with on a technical level very few people can. So imagine my surprise when Daniel called us to let us know that they decided to fork Activiti and start their own bpm platform. Open source and apache licensed. No discussion up front. We didn’t have any arguments. They basically claim our visions don’t match anymore. In open source, or in any collaboration between people you first bring issues you have to the table. You discuss the problems. You try to find a solution. And when that fails … maybe then you can decide to pull the plug and fork.
But nothing of that happened. Just the message out of the blue that the fork was going to happen. Hell, we organized the Activiti Community Day of past November together with them. Just a few weeks ago I proposed a get-together meetup to rocket-strap the roadmap of Activiti. Was all of this already decided then?
I wouldn’t have reacted if they just announced their own platform. But a fork of Activiti is really damaging for our community. Our CTO and their CEO discussed this via email and we got the following message from him (copied verbatim):
That’s said be assured that we do not place a message like “we fork Activiti”
Let me just post a screenshot of the title of the article of them. Enough said.
I really trusted them. I trusted that they would do the honorable. I really did.
So I’m not only let down on the community-aspect of things, but also on a personal level.
Open source is build on trust. Forking an open source project is introducing distrust. It confuses people. It makes them wonder ‘why would these guys fork’ or ‘is there something wrong with Activiti that we don’t know?’. I don’t know the answer to the why-question. I don’t understand it and I don’t know why. Maybe I would have if we would have discussed things.
There is nothing wrong with Activiti. The last couple of months were our most productive ever. We released version 5.12 and it was *packed* with features and fixes.
There is nothing wrong with Activiti. Hell, the ‘migration guide’ from Activiti to Camunda is basically just a jar rename. Some docs are copied exactly from the Activiti docs. Where is the difference in vision between the engines? Why not work together and contribute the missing pieces to Activiti? I think you yourself can be the judge on this.
Was it about branding? Do they want their own sticker on the bits and pieces? While Alfresco is putting a lot of money in Activiti, I don’t believe Alfresco has ever tried to mark the project. There isn’t a mention of Alfresco on the Activiti home page (and we’re proud on that Alfresco treats Activiti as such!). Again, all these things could have been discussed and solved. But none of that happened.
But things are what they are. Camunda have forked Activiti and that’s how it is. It is sad on different levels, but let’s focus on the future now. We will build your trust. We will prove that this fork has no impact on Activiti.
I’ve been chatting with a lot of people of the community in the past days and they all share our disbelief about the fork. Activiti has never been more alive than today.
At Alfresco we have a new CEO since a few months and workflow/bpm is in the list of top priorities of our management. Together with our many other contributors we will keep pushing Activiti, and maintain it’s status as the number one fully open-source platform for BPM and workflow.
I’m sorry for the confusion being caused. I’d like to see it different, too.
Believe me on that Activiti will keep to it’s core open source values and we will continue to strive to make Activiti even better than it is. Each and every single day. You can trust me on that.
PS: feel free to leave any happy Activiti comments to this post. It will cheer me up. I need that now :-).