Monday, 17 February 2014

FusionCharts mocks open source but uses it extensively.

Back in 2000, I was working for a company named Maserith Information Systems. I was busy building a Web application for teachers to create and share lesson plans. I was writing it in Perl and it ran on a Linux box. I happened to mention that to a bank manager and he sneered. "Open source? You get what you pay for."

And in a classic case of l'esprit d'escalier, it wasn't until I was leaving the bank that I realized I should have asked about his bank's free checking.

Frankly, I thought the days of mocking open source were behind us. It's become such a powerful force in the world and I doubt there are any major businesses which don't rely on it in some way.

And that brings me to On their front page it reads:

JavaScript Charts for the Grown-Ups
Because hobby projects don't cut it for enterprise-grade applications

When they're talking about "hobby" projects, they're referring to open source projects and the sneering "Grown-Ups" is aimed at open source developers. We're not "Grown-Ups", we're kids living in our parent's basement, apparently.

So what's an "enterprise-grade" application? The term isn't well-defined, but I think Facebook might be uncontroversially called that. As of this writing, they're the second most popular site on the Web, according to Alexa.

And what "not for grown-ups hobby projects" does Facebook rely on?

  • Linux
  • MySQL
  • PHP
  • memcached
  • Cassandra
  • Hadoop
  • Hive
  • Erlang
  • Thrift
  • Varnish
  • XHProf
  • Tornado

That's a damned impressive list and, I suspect, not an exhaustive one. Many of those projects were developed by businesses and then later released open source and others, such as Linux, were simply developed by non-Grown-Ups (with apologies to Linus).

However, what really amuses me is that the "hobby projects" line is full of hypocrisy. Here's what a few minutes of reading their html, some curl requests and a quick scan of their job adverts reveals they apparently use:

  • Linux
  • Apache
  • PHP
  • Zend
  • CakePHP
  • Smarty
  • Either MySQL or PostgreSQL
  • jQuery
  • modernizr
  • Prototype
  • Cappuccino

So to Fusion Charts I would say this: if you want to rely on the work of open source developers such as myself (and I guarantee that you have my source code on your servers), that's OK. I don't mind at all. But if you're going to then insult us, grow up.