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Kod.app is open source (github.com)
160 points by octover on Dec 25, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 64 comments

Sadly, it is a precious snowflake license (MIT + Custom term) with a very ambiguous custom term:

"The Software and/or source code cannot be copied in whole and sold without meaningful modification for a profit."

Great to see it semi-open source, and well within the rights of the author, though :-)

So by definition, this is not Open Source. Unfortunately, the author claims to have done so nevertheless:


It is a very questionable practice to claim to have produced Free Software / Open Source, when in fact this isn't the case. That's misleading marketing, if not unfair competition. Such practices are especially unfair on the huge number of authors and companies who really produce Open Source software.

The terms "Open Source" as well as "Free Software" have a well-defined meaning that includes giving others the right to distribute the software and to make a buck with it. If you don't like that, it's okay. You may still claim to have switched to "more liberal license" or something like that. But you may never claim to have switched to Open Source. That's not okay, because it is a plain lie.

I find it especially strange that the reason for this unfair behavior against competitors is to receive more fairness from competitors. That's a clear case of double standards.

How is this not open source? This is basically an open source licence with an added restriction on commercial use. To my mind, commercial use is completely orthogonal to whether a licence is open source or not.

Note that "open source" != "under a OSI or FSF approved licence" and that at no time that I've seen does the developer claim it's "Free Software" (which it certainly isn't, although it does dynamically link a GPL'd library...).

> This is basically an open source licence with an added restriction on commercial use.

Adding that kind of restriction will make any license a non-OpenSource license. This is not orthogonal but an important aspect.

Maybe a failing analogy helps here. From a linguistic point of view, the above is like saying: "Belarus is a democracy, with an added restriction regarding elections."

> Note that "open source" != "under a OSI or FSF approved licence"

This statement is plain wrong. OSI defined the term Open Source very precisely, so using it to describe non-compliant licenses is a clear misuse of that term. Even Microsoft doesn't do that, despite their power! Instead, they coined an own term to describe their less-restrictive activities: "Shared Source". (And yes, a small minority of Microsoft's Shared Source projects are also Open Source.)

So although there are different opinions about which term to prefer, "Open Source" has technically the same meaning as "Free Software". This has been clearly stated by the Open Source movement from the very beginning. In other words, the term Open Source has been designed to be a byword for Free Software. You can find that in the early articles of ESR:


Finally, note that this license won't ever be approved by neither OSI nor FSF, because it violates an essential freedom. Of course you can always say: "I don't care about that certain kind of freedom". That's okay. But then you should neither claim to do "Open Source" nor to do "Free Software". That's unfair on all real Open Source developers who grant that freedom.

This statement is plain wrong. OSI defined the term Open Source very precisely, so using it to describe non-compliant licenses is a clear misuse of that term.

They may have given a definition but that does not give them a monopoly over usage of the term. Language does not have a One Definition Rule! For example, my dictionary states:

    open-source: Computing denoting software for which the
    original source code is made freely available and may be
    redistributed with or without modification.
Under that definition the licence is most certainly open source. Indeed, this definition is more in line with what many people think when they hear "open source".

I understand there are political reasons to have open source exactly equivalent with the OSI definition. However, this does not seem to have happened.

Language does not have a One Definition Rule!

This is only true for day-to-day words. However, legal words and technical terms need strict, stable definitions that are equally understood at least by all experts in that field. Otherwise, serious communication would become next to impossible, let alone serious discussions.

> For example, my dictionary states:

Dictionaries don't provide exact definitions. However, your quoted description seems to be the best you can get out of three lines. If you care to read 4-6 lines, you'll get the quite accurate FSF definition. If you care to read even 10+ lines, you'll get the detailed OSI definition.

> Indeed, this definition is more in line with what many people think when they hear "open source".

That's an important issue. Neither the term Free Software nor the term Open Source are completely self-explanatory. So people will inevitably have misconceptions about those if they've neither read a proper definition, nor had someone explaining it well enough to them.

The concrete issue with the term "Free Software" is that people might think: Oh, this software is free (no cost), so it must be Free Software. Eric S. Raymond and others tried to solve that problem by inventing a new synonym, "Open Source".

However, the term "Open Source" has issues as well, because people might think: Oh, the source code lies open in front of me, so it must be Open Source.

Note that this is a general problem. Hardly any technical term is totally self-evident to ordinary people. Just because a technical term is not self-explanatory doesn't mean you can simply ignore its exact definition.

I think the point he was trying to make is that he rejects your definition of the term. As do I; notwithstanding what some foundation or some famous hacker thinks, you need a fairly broad consensus to really define a term.

I don't think that your definition of "open source" (or even "Open Source") meets that test. I think most people probably still think of it meaning that all of the source code is available to you to read/modify/compile.

What set of legal restrictions govern that is another can of worms. The software might be illegal, patented, or otherwise restricted, but those issues are independent of whether the source code is available or not.

Unless you're of the belief that language is defined by usage in which case "open source" tends to less rigorously mean "a large codebase that can at least be viewed and likely copied".

It's not as liberating as Open Souce, but without gradations in the standard you force people to choose between two radicalized tendencies.

As per Kod 0.0.2's changelog, the special snowflake license was inspired by this blog post: http://blog.robrhyne.com/post/1043407467/selling-open-source

From that blog post:

> You might ask, what essential liberty am I excluding by adding the modification clause? Ironically, nothing.

A few sentences later he contradicts that statement by defining what he means by "nothing":

> If I charged $15, someone could ask $8 and undercut me with little effort on their part.

So he denies to others the freedom to distribute the software, which is an essential part of the Open Source term (as well as the Free Software term, which has essentially the same meaning).

Until now, this could have been a plain misunderstanding of the term Open Source. However, a few sentences later the author explains that he deliberately wants to misuse the term Open Source:

> Then I’d have to make the choice to either sell [the app on App store] or open-source the app. I wanted to do both.

So he wants to claim to do Open Source without actually doing Open Source. This is really unfair on all developers who are really doing Open Source.

Note that there is nothing wrong with that business model, but claiming the name "Open Source" for that kind of business is a clear misuse of the term. Open Source has another, well-defined meaning.

The author is perfectly right that with any Open Source license, even as restrictive as GPL or AGPL, you can't make a lot of money by selling copies. This is not an accident, but by design! That's why real Open Source developers sell services around their products, such as support, implementation of customer wishes, etc.

If he doesn't want to do business that way, it's fine! But then he shouldn't claim to do Open Source.

The intent seems clear to me; "You can't build + sell the app on its own. But, if you want to use a part of the code in your own app, go for it."

Build and use is enough for most people.

But of course things would be very ambiguous in terms of how much means "meaningful modification".

Right. What if I make a bunch of publicly released changes* that are then pulled back into the Kod codebase?

* Changes that fulfill this "meaningful modification" provision.

My thought[1] is that your changes are your own, do as you please with them. Thats how I would treat it if I intended to do anything with Kod's source code, at least.

1. Please note: I'm very far from being anything that resembles a lawyer.

woudlnd it be easier to just use CC BY-NC-SA ?

It's for a non-open-source operating system anyway, who cares ;p

Looks nice. One note: It says it requires MacPorts. You should probably say it requires the source-highlight package, regardless of how you get it. (I'm going to install via Homebrew, some might compile it manually.)

It's worth noting that you can just install the app binary.

Compiling it is for people that want to hack the source themselves, it's not the main distribution method.

I meant the source-highlight dependency. Is that included with the binary?

The announcement with details can be found at http://groups.google.com/group/kod-app/browse_thread/thread/...

If TextMate 2.0 is not released soon (or doesn't meet expectations), MacroMates is in trouble.

And by "MacroMates" you mean the singular developer who works on it who has probably already made a small fortune from TextMate 1.x licenses and has said a few times that TextMate development is a "hobby". I don't think he's in any sort of trouble.

IIRC he did get stressed out by expectation and some blog nastiness, and at another time made a somewhat rash commitment to TM2 being a free upgrade. Perhaps Duke-Nukem status is finally accepted but I don't think things have always been so chilled.

Could be, but a lot of people who wanted more than TM 1.5 provides have already gone to Emacs or vim.

Kod is pretty far away from being a "usable" editor (in its current state), so TextMate 2 isn't nearing imminent doom. Besides, there was a blog post about TM2 nearing completion, which means it should ship sometime around Summer 2008. loljk

I'm pretty excited about Kod in general though; the design has a real great start, and the scripting foundations he's building seem really interesting. Open sourcing it should (hopefully) speed it along to reliability and completeness sooner rather than later, too. Will be a fun product to watch.

I really wish people would stop complaining about TextMate 2.0, just because it's been talked about doesn't mean the current version stopped working or lost features. I'm a daily TextMate user for nearly 6 years and it has never once not met my expectations. It's first app I install on a new machine/install.

Kod is a great start so far, but still has a ways to catch up. I wish the developer the best and that it works out for him. Hope it doesn't turn out like Smultron (now Fraise).

Granted it's a one of the most used software on my laptop, it's definitely not at the "never once not met my expectations" level. I don't think I have super high expectations either... I want soft-wrap to happen properly. I could go on with list of needs but it's pointless.

I've given up hope that there will be ever an update and learnt to live with v1.x. However, that's just settling. As soon as I find something better, I'm gone. I bought Espresso with the hope that supporting that would encourage a lot of development but MacRabbit has been pretty slow on the improvement side as well (as shown by the sparsity on their blog http://macrabbit.com/blog/) so I've had to make do with TM since it feels better and more natural than Espresso for now.

Ahhrrgg <sigh>

Unfortunately, MacRabbit won't be updating Espresso until the first half of 2011 (probably 4-5 months).

See: http://twitter.com/#!/espressoapp/status/18041354806370304

Yuck! I really like Espresso but the lack of momentum and Sugars forced me to TM.

If Panic could create a TM to Coda migration path for those of us not interested in Emacs or Vim, they could snag a ton of customers. A way to port bundles and to turn off the dreamweaveresque portions of the app and they'll have my money. They actually ship software or at least keep people in the loop.

I totally agree with this. TextMate is the best editor I've ever used, I don't really need a 2.0. That being said, I'm interesting in seeing what exactly will be fixed/new in 2.0, but I'm doing just fine without it and so are many others.

Agreed (about textmate always meeting expectations) -- except for lack of chunked undo :)

And the fact that it crashes every window when opening a file more than a meg. Or that it doesnt detect git changes (have to restart the app). And it doesn't have splitscreen.

Do you people just have supremely low expectations?

Another good alternative is Redcar

I need to retract my previous comments on the other HN post that the communities would just choose over other open source alternatives for Node.js stuff. Well, now this is open-sourced too!

Cheers and happy holidays~!

Speaking of open-source programmer text editors, what's the best embeddable editor control for OSX? Sort of like a Scintilla for the OSX world.

I get "You cannot use this version of the application Kod with this version of Mac Os X." - ???

from the info.plist

<key>LSMinimumSystemVersion</key> <string>10.6.0</string> <key>LSMinimumSystemVersionByArchitecture</key> <dict> <key>x86_64</key> <string>10.6</string> </dict>

Are you on 10.6? If not, you're out of luck.

Fine for a free application, a wise decision.

Fine for any application; nobody can dictate which platforms anyone must support and which they can't.

10.6 is much nicer than 10.5 on a bunch of levels. It's slightly annoying now, but will pay off in the future.

If you say so. :( That it will be worth the wait till I skip 10.6 and upgrade straight to Lion. Was looking forward to using something shiny.

Why'd you skip 10.6? It was $30.

And also a HUGE improvement in a lot of different areas! Speed, especially.

I'd just never gotten around to it... Nothing I used (except Kod and new Smultron) really required 10.6.

It is much buggier, frequent crashes of Safari, iTunes and Mail for instance

Not sure why you are getting down-voted. I have 2 MBPs. One is s ~3 year old running 10.5 and his baby sister running 10.6.

This is entirely subjective per my experience:

- the 10.5 'feels' more responsive.

- the beachball is a very frequent event in the 10.6, specially Safari, sometimes even when switching tabs which is quite annoying.

- I haven't rebooted the old MBP in months. Sitting pretty on my desk. The new one has frozen few times and occasionally I feel the need to put it out of its misery myself.

There's no such thing as a trivial OS upgrade, and so long as 10.5 is supported and runs the stuff I need to run, I don't have a compelling reason to go to the trouble of upgrading.

You'll have to excuse me, but you're wrong. I mean, sure, it is an OS upgrade. But there's no real "trouble" (it takes about 20 minutes and a few clicks) and there's definitely compelling reasons to upgrade (including running 10.6 specific software). One pressing reason to upgrade: 64bit. Another one: cocoa finder. Also, faster and smaller.

Seriously, I know people who have a reason not to upgrade. You don't seem to be one of those people. Those people are on worse operating systems than you are.

OK, tell you what: you come over to my place, run the upgrade, then fix all my dev stuff (combination of macports and non-macports) that'll break. Seriously, I've done this before and I know what's gonna be involved. But if you want to sit back and tell me how little "trouble" I'll have, you can do it for me.

... except some software that's 10.6 only? ;)

Anyone use this? Pros/cons vs Textmate/vim/emacs?

It's not comparable at all, though it could be after a few man years of work.

Crashes on quit. In C mode, hitting return doesn't indent. No preferences. No toolbars or widget menus. It does attempt to color keywords but this doesn't really work, with "in" in "int" being blue and the "t" inexplicably being white, etc.

It's a text editor with fewer features than TextEdit. No idea what the big deal is. It's description as version 0.02 seems accurate.

Sad. I saw the screenshot and imagined a modern vim of sorts.

Pro: Its a new editor and shows a lot of promise.

Con: Its a new editor and needs a lot of work.

I downloaded Kod.app to check it out. Great Nordic looks! But this is really not even ready for prime-time, is it?

Given the amount of work involved, I'd like to throw in the suggestion here that if you are thinking of building your own (programmer development environment -- these things are not simply "editors") on top an OSS foundation, to review and consider IDEA:


(Not in any way associated with JetBrains).

This 'feature', is what I was waiting for to get me away from TextMate.

I am extremely pleased.

I'm not quite sure how/why you think this is news. Something going open source historically means 99% death. I really hope you get to be that 1% of the lucky ones... but...

Something not going open source historically also means 99% death.

99% of all software die, whether open source or closed source. Not sure what point you're trying to make. The (flawed) point that something will die because it's open source?


Not by you.

So I am pretty sure you have your successful open source story to share. Where you saved the queen, anything green, the oxygen, as we know it - and made millions along the way - while slaying bad guys around.

PS. It is easy to spot a clown.

Not quite sure I follow.

You need a story which has millions of dollars, women and open source? - Android.

Indeed, and you can even go earlier than that: MySQL.

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