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From Jonathan Revusky <>
Subject Re: The Guardian website moves to Velocity
Date Fri, 11 May 2007 11:50:45 GMT
Malcolm Edgar wrote:
> Excellent choice, Velocity simplicity wins out over FM complexity  :)

Nice story, nice spin on things, but it's not really accurate. If you 
look at the blog article on you see in the 4th 
paragraph or so:

I can’t honestly say that we ran a detailed and open comparison when we 
chose a templating framework, ...

I mean, the guy is tacitly admitting that they really didn't compare 
Velocity to anything else, it seems. <shrug>

To me, what this is really an example of is just how much credit people 
give these Apache projects. This is a tangent, but, just as an example 
of this, look at Struts. Technically, that project lapsed into a 
horridly stagnant state and no forward progress was made on the project 
for a period of 4 years or more. So, obviously, it became increasingly 
uncompetitive with other web frameworks. Yet, still, after 4 years of 
neglect, it was still dominant in usage out there. It was so inferior 
that a competing web framework, Webwork, could be simply relabelled as 
Struts 2.0. Basically, the Webwork people donated their work to ASF and 
it got relabelled as Struts 2.0 so that they could leverage the Struts 
and Apache brand names to get visibility for their far superior body of 

But let's step back and think about this a sec. It's really the 
damnedest thing, you know. It's as if you go to the local farmer's 
market, buy wonderful fresh produce, but your kids won't eat it. You 
figure out that the only way to get them to eat the fresh vegetables is 
to trick them, to convince them that the fresh veggies actually came out 
of a tin can. Then they'll eat them. I mean, okay, it's a brutal 
characterization, but I think it's accurate; people, by and large, would 
not use Webwork, which was far superior to Struts, unless it got 
relabelled as Struts. Then they'll all use it and, you know... yummy yum 

All the stuff about Velocity being better because it's "simpler" is 
pretty suspect. After all, if you look at the Velocity 2.0 roadmap, you 
see that every new thing being proposed is stuff that was already 
available in FreeMarker at least 4 years ago. It's obviously considered 
that the extra features are desirable. Yet, when you talk about the 
advantages of Velocity, it's the simplicity -- i.e. the lack of features 
that is supposed to be an advantage.

So, you know, given that, I find it hard to believe that anybody who 
wasn't born yesterday would take the simplicity rhetoric that seriously. 
And, look, googling around, do you find anybody actually saying they 
switched from FreeMarker to Velocity because they like all that 
wonderful simplicity? No, you don't, you find people switching in the 
other direction because they need the extra features; they were 
specifically added because they do enhance productivity and so on.

The fact remains that people who work on front-end coding already deal 
with things that are pretty complex. Even static HTML is fairly complex, 
lots of tags and attributes. Introduce style sheets and even just a 
smattering of javascript and you really have something that's pretty 
complex. Complexity is a difficult thing to talk about, mind you, since 
it's hard to precisely measure. But my sense of things is that 
FreeMarker, within the range of things that these people work with, is 
not excessively complex. I think it's much more accurate to say that 
Velocity is excessively simple. This would be backed up by any searches 
on the web, where people state clearly that they switched away from 
Velocity because it simply does not have features they need in a 
professional tool of this nature.

Jonathan Revusky
lead developer, FreeMarker project,

I mean, there's so much insincere doubletalk. The @author tags 
discussion over the dev list is just amazing.

> regards Malcolm Edgar
> On 5/10/07, Townson, Chris <> wrote:
>> thought this might interest members of this list, if you haven't 
>> already seen it.
>> It would be interesting to know a little more about the tools they 
>> built: I know that we at Nature have been working towards a 
>> "component"-based system (which seems to be what they've developed at 
>> The Guardian) for a little while now and are shortly to go live with a 
>> Spring-based system for formalizing the management of the design and 
>> templating of large, complex, modular sites using Velocity.
>> There might be some common ground covered between us and The Guardian 
>> here which could be fed back into the Velocity project itself, perhaps?
>> Best,
>> Chris
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