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From Jeff Turner <>
Subject Elephants and Mavericks (Re: Giving up! Cocoon too big, slow and confusing)
Date Fri, 28 Jun 2002 05:15:20 GMT
Thanks for the honest words, instead of silence.

I am reminded of the following definition:

second-system effect n. 

  When one is designing the successor to a relatively small, elegant,
  and successful system, there is a tendency to become grandiose in
  one's success and design an elephantine feature-laden monstrosity. The
  term was first used by Fred Brooks in his classic "The Mythical
  Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering". It described the jump from
  a set of nice, simple operating systems on the IBM 70xx series to
  OS/360 on the 360 series. A similar effect can also happen in an
  evolving system; see Brooks's Law, creeping elegance, creeping

The choice is to stick around and help fix things (if indeed they are
broken), or jump to a lighter alternative like Maverick:

  "Maverick is a minimalist web publishing framework which combines the
  best features of Struts and Cocoon and yet is far simpler than


On Wed, Jun 26, 2002 at 10:41:14PM -0400, John Austin wrote:
> I'm back from a short vacation in beautiful Chicago (it really is much 
> nicer than Toronto or Montreal) and have waded back in to Cocoon for a 
> couple of days.
> After just a few hours of poking around I have decided that it will be 
> much simpler for me to simply hand-code a whole hat-full of servlets 
> than to try and pull any meaning out of Cocoon and it's documentation.
> Fifteen hours on the Interstate wasn't as challenging as trying to 
> figure out how one should check a Web Form this month but I didn't have 
> that feeling of travelling backwards half of the time. I was also able 
> to predict and achieve forward progress (for a change).
> Thanks guys, but no thanks. 
> Maybe I'm getting old, but I really don't understand the need for all 
> of the complexity and the lack of documentation in this product.
> On the other hand, I used to feel the same way about the mind-numbing 
> complexity of a certain thirty-year-old mainframe operating system 
> (MVS) produced by IBM back in the sixties and it's patching system 
> (SMP4). So it can't just be my age. 
> Anyway, Cocoon has cost me far morte (a typo that's better than the 
> original word) time than it was worth. The chief problems appear to 
> have been endlessly re-invented terminology for an overwhelming number 
> of 'new concepts' and a complete lack of consistency between different 
> components (i.e. functional code, non-functional examples, unbuildable 
> documentation and a website that doesn't match up with any single 
> released version of the project).
> I have a lot of respect for the ability of the people who have built 
> this project, but I want them to know that their project appears to be 
> out-of-control and could become very difficult to manage. If 
> experienced developers (like myself) can't figure out how to use enough 
> features in the product to make it worth using, then penetration will 
> be limited and all of your efforts will be wasted. There is more to 
> this business than stuffing in features at the expense of documentation 
> and testing. You have a lot of very good ideas, but the execution of 
> the project as a whole seems to be suffering.
> I know that I will often look at my JSP and servlet code and think 'XSP 
> and Cocoon were sooo much better!' until I remember that I wasn't ever 
> able to use enough of Cocoon to make a profit.
> Oh, well, at least all of my test systems have bags of memory now!

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