DELTA software future

Macfarlane, Terry terrym at CALM.WA.GOV.AU
Mon May 10 06:02:07 CEST 2004

It has been interesting to see in recent postings to DELTA-L that there 
continues to be a high level of interest and usage of the DELTA format 
and the software. There has also been criticism of CSIRO for apparently 
keeping the software code to itself but not doing any development.

In defence of CSIRO, there have in fact been two moves proceeding in 
Australia to try to further develop the software. Firstly, CSIRO have 
been prepared to licence the software to another organisation if one 
could be found to take it on, as they announced when ceasing 
development, and in fact negotiations have been taking place over a 
licence agreement. It is not CSIRO's fault that this has been a slow 
process. It has been stated by Steve Shattuck that if a licence can't be 
arranged, then open release of the source code would be considered. 
Secondly, there have been a series of informal discussion between 
representatives of several Australian systematics institutions about the 
possibility of joining in a consortium to use the licence mentioned 
above as a basis for finding funds for DELTA software development. This 
proposed DELTA consortium is still being discussed, but once the licence 
is finalised, then it can be formally established. In view of the 
interest shown lately, then this will hopefully happen soon.

Clearly it would have been better for users for an announcement about 
the licence and consortium to have been made before now, but it was 
deferred until finalisation of the licence, which has been "imminent" 
for a long time.

The relationship between a consortium and an open-source arrangement 
would be worth exploring. Even in a fully open-source environment the 
most successful projects have a few focussed members which keep 
developments moving towards a well-defined goal.

Another issue that has not been explored so far but which obviously 
should be, is the expansion of a consortium to membership outside of 
Australia. The fact that this has not been done so far is probably 
because discussions are easier when participants are near each other.

Terry Macfarlane
Western Australian Herbarium

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