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From Jonathan Revusky <>
Subject Re: The Guardian website moves to Velocity
Date Sun, 13 May 2007 08:47:40 GMT
Malcolm Edgar wrote:
> Velocity is not obsolete, and is actually better suited to a wider
> market which want a simpler easy to framework than FreeMarker.

The above claim is highly suspect. For several reasons.

You know, just on general grounds, my own casual observation is that 
people aren't that interested in simplicity. For example, whenever I'm 
helping out (or trying to) some non-technical person with their home 
computer, I typically notice that they use Microsoft Office. Even people 
who do trivial things like write the occasional letter or CV or have a 
little spreadsheet for their personal finances, they use Word and Excel. 
I'm not even saying, mind you, that they should. To my mind, they look 
pretty overblown for these people's needs. But, you know, a lot of 
computers come with this Microsoft Works thing with very stripped down 
versions of the word processor and spreadsheet, that would be enough for 
most users. But it really seems that people prefer to use the full-blown 
versions in Office.

Also, another similar case is that attempts to market much more limited, 
i.e. simple, alternatives to the PC have met with scant success -- the 
network computer or WebTV or whatever. People hypothesized a wider 
market that wanted to get on the net and use the web and email and a few 
other things, without the very real complexity of the PC. However, the 
wider market that wanted the much simpler product turned out to be 
rather non-existent. There are surely warehouses somewhere full of these 
products, accumulating dust. By and large, people preferred the 
horrendously complex PC over a simpler product that only provided 
minimal functionality.

In this vein, it would really be quite surprising if a audience of web 
development professionals really preferred Velocity on account of its 
"simplicity". What is far more typical is that people will opt for the 
more powerful tool, even at the cost of some incremental complexity. 
(Like, how many businesses have standardized on Microsoft Works because 
it's simpler?)

Besides, FreeMarker and Velocity do not differ that much in complexity 
anyway, nothing like Office vs. Works, or a full PC vs. WebTV, say. To 
do the same minimal simple set of things you can do in Velocity is not 
particularly more complex in FreeMarker. This, in fact, did emerge from 
the conversation with Chris Towson. He could do the same component-based 
things with FreeMarker and modulo a change of delimiter, the templates 
would not be more complex in any discernible way.

In general, the line that FreeMarker is horrendously complex strikes me 
as FUD frankly. In terms of the entire mix of things that the front-end 
web coder typically deals with, HTML, CSS, even just a smattering of 
javascript, FreeMarker is surely not particularly complex.

In short, the claim that there is this "wider market" that wants the 
simpler tool does not at all ring true to me. Can you provide a single 
shred of evidence for this, Malcolm?

Meanwhile, it being so easy to do so, I naturally will provide some 
evidence for the counter-claim:

Just googling around, you fairly quickly hit things like the above. (I 
could provide more, these are just prominent ones, and most people who 
migrate don't write blog entries about it...) It really appears that all 
the migration is from Velocity to FreeMarker, period. A high proportion 
of the people on FreeMarker lists are ex-Velocity users. There is no 
similar sense here that this community is made up of ex-FreeMarker users.

But can you provide similar examples, like above, of people switching 
from FreeMarker to Velocity because of the latter's wonderful simplicity?

Jonathan Revusky
lead developer, FreeMarker project,

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