Is it time to fork Celestia?

The place to discuss creating, porting and modifying Celestia's source code.

Is it time to fork Celestia?

Yes
8
24%
No
12
36%
Never
9
27%
Don't know
4
12%
 
Total votes: 33

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Slalomsk8er
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Is it time to fork Celestia?

Post #1by Slalomsk8er » 23.04.2005, 17:58

I was coming here to ask this question, from the shatters.net "Forum Index ?» Celestia Development ?» Release Celestia 1.4.0 final?" thread, because I now think I finally understand, what is going on (people living; science vs. fiction)!

We need to talk to Chris (but it looks like this is nearly impossible).

This software is dieing the slow way!

IMHO, we need a new coordinator (communication genie that can read code and use cvs), a vision ceeper (a part I can do) and a coding team (I think we have one).

At the moment (the last year) I see no place for Chris in the coordinator. He is the father of this great software and our best OpenGL coder but if he has no time to do the coordinating and coding this can not work!!!

If I did read it right, the mood in the dev team is not good and this is really a bad thing for this software and the community!

http://celestiaproject.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=52732#52732
I am convinced that most of the developers with high potential abandonned Celestia because of this persistent disorganized environment...

Grant walked away, Christophe is having "very extended breaks" (to say the least) and I have also given up writing code. I am still doing other Celestia related work, but I might as well be fed up quite soon...

Bye Fridger
http://celestiaproject.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=52673#52673
danielj:
Chris is skiing too much!He has to stop his vacation or give the copyright to someone else.What is he thinking about?
This software in under GPL, the gpl is a copyleft so Chris left us the copyright. IMHO this shows how much he loves Celestia.

http://celestiaproject.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=52776#52776
There was very intensive (and long-lasting) discussion,
except from Chris...Nothing concrete from his side, after a
long time, except some general few-line positive
encouragements.

So I gave up in frustration, since such challenging projects
require a focussing of efforts and an intensive brainstorming
among experts in different tangent fields. Notably also
concerning 3d graphics.

For me this issue is definitely dead now, after I really spent a
lot of work into it...


Bye Fridger
http://celestiaproject.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=52783#52783
sorry but I got definitely tired to roll that interesting stuff up
once more. Let me just refer you to a respective popular
thread of mine with 2170 readers and 54 discussion posts...

http://www.celestiaproject.net/forum/viewtopic ... sc&start=0
or in respect to quaternions, specifically
http://www.celestiaproject.net/forum/viewtopic ... c&start=29


Walton (wcomer) did participate quite a bit in the (quaternionic) math of the game. Selden did plenty of practical experiments with possible display schemes of the amazing SDSS large scale structure data that are among the basic experimental pilars of modern cosmology.

Incidentally, here is Chris' only comment about the matter:

chris wrote:
On the other hand this is relatively "work intensive" and rather frustrating, as long as there is ZERO encouragement for the whole approach from Chris...

I think it's quite an interesting idea, but I'm afraid I haven't had time to reply in detail or do much else in the way of Celestia development lately. That will change in a couple days.

--Chris


Bye Fridger
http://celestiaproject.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=51429#51429
Paolo:
I think that everyone of us is somewhat worried about this long period of pre-releases and news shortage concerning the Celestia development.
IMHO it is necessary that Chris reassures the community explaining which is the current situation.
Moreover I would like to know if he is available to evaluate and recruit new coders in order to extend the development crew.

It looks like this 2 threads show the problem:
http://celestiaproject.net/forum/viewtopic.php ... highlight=
http://celestiaproject.net/forum/viewtopic.php ... highlight=

IMHO we have to ask NASA/ESA to send money to Chris for Celestia. So he can work on this full time (if he is willing to do so). OR I think we need to fork this software to take it to the hights of what it could be.

Science Celestia:

If I just could code as good as I want, my version of Celestia would look like this:

1. No Lua but python
2. All objects can be manipulated via python in the running program (live)
3. A change in the config files needs to be refleted live after a reload button was pressed
4. Time slotts for every thing (texture animation; body deformation; collisions)
5. Wave lenght slotts for all visual things (UV-, IR and other instrumental textures)
6. Wave lenght mixer (may be not live till the computing power multiplicated)
7. heavy use of particle systems
8. Celestia Cosmo-display
9. A frame per frame mode for high quality movie recording

Just a few other examples from t00fri:
http://celestiaproject.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=51532#51532
1) Precession of the equinoxes.
2) Stars with the same coordinates in stars.dat and in an stc do not plot in the same position.
3) The Earth is 200AU from the coordinate origin, which introduces huge parallax effects for nearby stars, but this has not been rectified because it would "break cel URLs".
4) A number of custom orbits are still quite badly in error.
5) We have no custom orbits for a number of major moons for which suitable formulae are available.
6) Node and pericentre precession is not implemented.
7) We can't select a view by sky coordinates and corresponding grids in any of the standard astronomical frames.
8.) After all this work on multiple star 3d graphics by Chris and my extensive orbit data preparations, we still don't have a decent multiple-star browser GUI, such that people can actually localize all the thousands of binaries!
9) many further much discussed issues like "filters", "cosmo-Celestia", modified "goto" for binary systems etc.
10) improved manoevering on the surface of objects

+ .....

Bye Fridger


I do not like to ask this question but my heart tells me to do it, so I did.


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Post #2by Rassilon » 23.04.2005, 23:29

Theres one thing to take into consideration when working on a project of great magnitude....Weither it be for money or for enjoyment....the latter the better modivation imho...

It can lterally eat you up inside after hours and hours of sitting behind the screen looking at code....The tedium of hunting down bugs that are being reported on a daily basis...The time spent away from living in general is rather unhealthy...I cannot personally speak for Chris that this is the issue here but I can sum up a pretty wise guess that he just needed to get away from it for a while....and if it may be the case he retires for a time Celestia is by far distant from becoming a dead subject in astromony circles....

We will just have to let it ride and see what happens....If its anyones choice to abandon this project then I am sure others will come along in the future to pick up where they left off when Chris decides to revive the passion....
I'm trying to teach the cavemen how to play scrabble, its uphill work. The only word they know is Uhh and they dont know how to spell it!

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Post #3by Paolo » 24.04.2005, 14:57

IMHO it is necessary to extend the development crew, so involve and recruit other coders.
Perhaps someone different than Chris should be put in charge as coordinator. But Chris must remain in the development team. Also because this space (forum) is a property of him.
I've suggest a long time ago to adopt the PayPal donation system of Sourceforge. It won't be the solution but it should help a bit.
But I will consider to fork Celestia as the latest of the desperate options.
Remember: Time always flows, it is the most precious thing that we have.
My Celestia - Celui

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Post #4by Bob Hegwood » 24.04.2005, 16:46

Just curious...

What does it mean to say "Fork Celestia?"

Do you mean that we should throw the software away and forget about it?
Do you mean that we should stop developing add-ons and textures for it?

Can't imagine that that's what you mean. I'll be using Celestia on my PC
until I'm dead. (Probably shortly the way I'm going now. :wink:)

I don't care if the latest version is never updated, although it would
be nice. What makes you think that Chris (and others) are obligated to
continue this work?

As far as I'm concerned, the work done so far has already provided the
best astronomy, space, science software I've ever encountered, and it
was provided at absolutely no charge.

Again, I'd like to see more development, but I'm really greatful for what
we already have. <shrug>

Thanks, Bob
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Post #5by maxim » 24.04.2005, 21:15

Forking development of a software means to open a new branch of working on it, so that there will exist two different versions of the software in the future - perhaps developed by different people, and leading to different implementations and features. (Whereas the totally different topic of forking a running process leads to two existing processes, running in parallel and performing different tasks on the same machine ;) )

maxim

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Post #6by Bob Hegwood » 24.04.2005, 21:54

maxim wrote:Forking development of a software means to open a new branch of working on it, so that there will exist two different versions of the software in the future

Thanks for the education Maxim...

You guys had me worried there for a moment. Since this is the explanation,
I wouldn't mind seeing a fork. However, the existing structure has created
a masterpiece thus far. Do we really need to mess with the process because
we're impatient?

Just adding fuel to the fire. :wink:

Take care, Bob
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Post #7by PlutonianEmpire » 25.04.2005, 01:17

maxim wrote:Forking development of a software means to open a new branch of working on it, so that there will exist two different versions of the software in the future - perhaps developed by different people, and leading to different implementations and features. (Whereas the totally different topic of forking a running process leads to two existing processes, running in parallel and performing different tasks on the same machine ;) )

maxim

D'OH!!! *bashes head on the wall*

I thought it meant to stop develepment on it completely, thus i voted "never"

silly me.

:oops:
Terraformed Pluto: Now with New Horizons maps! :D

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Post #8by Slalomsk8er » 25.04.2005, 05:06

IMHO I think Paolo is absolute right, Chris must remain in the development team if possible.

I too consider to fork Celestia as the latest of the desperate options.

But as I wrote above, I would like to go new ways on some thing and add some revolutionary things like:

4. Time slots for every thing (texture animation; body deformation; collisions)
5. Wave length slots for all visual things (UV-, IR and other instrumental textures)
8. Celestia Cosmo-display
9. A frame per frame mode for high quality movie recording

Maybe a testing branch (dev play ground) would not be bad?

PS: I voted Don't know ;)
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Post #9by alphap1us » 25.04.2005, 05:24

Hello,

I can't see how forking Celestia will serve any of the purposes you listed above, or any purpose whatsoever. Chris is the *only* person who knows how to make improvements to the rendering code. If you want to see the features you listed implemented, implement them without Chris. If they are good, I am sure he will be happy to merge them into CVS. If you can't implement them yourself, then why would we fork the code?

Every few months, someone proposes that they be made some kind of "vision co-ordinator" even though they can't code and don't know anything abot the technical aspects of improving Celestia. Ideas are all over the forum for anyone who is interested to work on. Celestia doesn't need more vision about what to implement. It needs more implementation. In short, dreams are cheap, quality code is expensive.

I am sorry if this sounds harsh, but I just don't want to see anyone get excited and put effort into something that is so clearly doomed to fail. If you really want to help out in a substantive way, learn to code modest side projects at first and make your way to toward more major contributions.

Cheers,
Joe

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Post #10by hjw » 25.04.2005, 07:29

Forking projects:

Forking a project only makes sense when there are
incompatible "design goals".

Example:

The GIMP has been forked a few years ago:

Design goals "The GIMP":
- Target: Mainstream
- Focus: web design
- ...

Design goals "FilmGimp (CinePaint)", the "Hollywood branch":
- Target: Moviemakers
- Focus: film production
(e.g. Harry Potter, Grinch, Planet of the Apes, and a lot more)

So what are celestia's goals? What focus?

1) Celestia is well done, no more significant improvements,
no more goals

2) Space-Shooter

3) Flight-Simulator

4) Inexact mainstream "show me colored marbles in the virtual sky"

5) Exact, scientific 3D visualization tool

6) Planetarium software

7) Gravitation simulator

8) Make money fast

9) Experimental

(Yes, I know there are a lot more...)


Some of these goals MAY BE compatible, but you NEVER
can get them all combined in ONE project. And goal (1)
is incompatible with most others.

I would vote "not yet".

I'm professional software developer since 1984 (c, perl, c++).
My hobby is software development.
And my feeling about the "celestia community" is
- a big, enthusiastic "user community"
- a big, enthusiastic "add-on creator community"
- NO "developer communiy"

Contributing to the code seems very difficult, at least for me.

Quo vadis, celestia?

So many goals, so many feature requests, no developer
community...

MfG - HjW

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Post #11by Slalomsk8er » 25.04.2005, 12:35

I am from the 3D rendering part of the picture.
For me it is the visualization and precision that makes this software interesting.

But the ability to render clips is primitive at best. The problem is the "real time" rendering (as real as your box renders the scene).

What I desire is synced full screen rendering and full control of the scene (the objects not just the viewer)and the HUD with a "mightier" scripting language. Python is this for me because the 3D program of my choice is Blender and Blender uses Python really heavy for import export and modeling tools (and a lot of other things).

I like open systems, where a gravitation fetishist can implement a "Gravitation simulator" in Python and let the core code untouched.

Or a animation fetishist (maybe me) can build clouds that really move (from old sat data).

Or a teacher can use the scripting engine to "paint" lines from one moving object to an other and for example let the code print the distance between the two objects.

But let me end my dreaming and get real:

What I really hate is work (real good work) be given up because of to less communication.

Look at this:

http://celestiaproject.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=52710#52710
http://celestiaproject.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=52776#52776
http://celestiaproject.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=51532#51532
http://celestiaproject.net/forum/viewtopic.php ... highlight=

Contributing to the code seems very difficult, at least for me.
This is the main problem of Celestia that I see! It begins with the single cvs branch, where people gets angry if things do not work like they expect and ends with the maintainer that does not answer e-mails from devs for long times :?
I'm professional software developer since 1984 (c, perl, c++).
My hobby is software development.
And my feeling about the "celestia community" is
- a big, enthusiastic "user community"
- a big, enthusiastic "add-on creator community"
- NO "developer communiy"
I am an artist not a coder but I do code some times for money (HTML, JavaScript and CSS) and fun (Python). I see the "celestia community" in the same way as you do.
I ask you, a professional coder, can you please show us what blocks the formation of a "developer community"?

Every few months, someone proposes that they be made some kind of "vision co-ordinator" even though they can't code and don't know anything abot the technical aspects of improving Celestia.
Do you know how hard this job really is? For this job you need to know at least the basics of coding and understand a the inner working of Celestia to some extend but you need definetly some distance to the coding or else you get useless quite fast! Your job is it to form a vision of Celestia, that is true for the user and the coder, out from your own vision. You need to stick to the vision and you need to enforce the vision. You are the one who have to tell the one with a cool idea, that this is not the way of Celestia, do it as script or make your own version of celestia. You are the one that needs to motivate the coders and make them feel at home!

IMHO you confuse the job of a "vision keeper" with the next best n00b with a cool idea.

I don't know where I read this but I think it is true: A program with no a vision is a program with no soul.

At the moment it is the vision of Chris naturally because it is his creation, but a lot a people have there own vision of Celestia because they use it. I was the vision of Chris that Celestia is a educational 3D simulation of the solar system and the rest of the universe and it has to be as accurate and use full as possible, that made Celestia what it is today. He could have made it more like a game (a lot asked for this) but he did not (no halos no lasers no fake gravitation) and this is what makes Celestia unique.

But what is all this about?

I started this thread with the intention to make things better and to find out what is really needed to do so.

I think I start to see the picture after reading this and the other threads I posted again and again.

1. We need to sit down with Chris and and discuss the future direction of Celestia and make some structural reconsideration (not code but people).
2. Finish the release of Celestia 1.4.0!
3. We need to build a list of features Celestia will have in the future and there priority.
4. Think about forking Celestia in to a stable and a testing branch.

What do you think, please comment on this.

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Post #12by ElChristou » 25.04.2005, 17:40

Forking could be a solution to the actual problem... but then what are the goals?

On one hand the "Celestia Asronomical Simulation" with the greater scientific accurancy,

and on the other "Celestia the game" (let's use the term "game" once and for hall...), grouping all those funny fonctions requested by a more and more large number of person?

Are those points the fork people here are talking about?


Why not... but then the principal question is:

Is there people to handle the game part?

(the response is NO, as we see how hard is to solve some basic/polishing point in the present version... A shoot, flight simulator with cinema like effects is heavy in openGL coding, and for now only Chris is able to do that kind of code...)

To my opinion forking is not really usefull for now; with a better visualisation part, Celestia will be really perfect; the study/learning purpose don't have to change...
Now if a game engine has to be developped on base the Celestia code, a real team of coder and artist must be created...


Now forking can be a solution to the disagreement in the community, each one on his own forum with his own goals...
In a larger view, it can also be a way to attract people from a side to other (from game, to study... not the contrary, for sure... :?).

BUT, in all case, the authors (Chris, Clint Weisbrod, Fridger, Bob Ippolito, Christophe, Hank, Grant) are the intellectual owners of Celestia, so only them can take this kind of decision.

SO, for now I vote "no" because the principal authors are absent from the forum, and there is no "team" for the eventual fork...
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Post #13by hjw » 25.04.2005, 18:28

BUT, in all case, the authors (Chris, Clint Weisbrod, Fridger, Bob Ippolito, Christophe, Hank, Grant) are the intellectual owners of Celestia, so only them can take this kind of decision.


No. Wrong. Celestia's license is GPL = "free software".

What a lot of people don't know is that "free" does NOT mean "free of charge".
You can take any GPL'ed software and charge a fee to anybody who wants
to pay for it. You don't have to ask anybody. You can do everything with it,
with ONE exception: you are not allowed ot make it "un-free" (you always
have to make the source code available and are not allowed to remove the
GPL license).

MfG - HjW

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Post #14by t00fri » 25.04.2005, 19:38

Hi all,

for various reasons I preferred to essentially stay out of this discussion.

Clearly in my opinion, forking Celestia makes no sense.
Celestia and Chris can hardly be separated whatever the GPL formally says ;-) . After reading Chris' recent email to me once more carefully, it appears that he coded this new 4D viewer in his spare time. So it looks like he took a break from Celestia with this new project without telling anyone.

Here is the email that I wrote back to him. Again he did not care to answer (up to now):

Fridger wrote:Hi Chris,

thanks for the long-awaited info...

Many people in the Celestia community (including myself) feel that it would be about time that you make some more concrete and /reliable/ public statements about your tentative availability in the near-future. The forum is close to a state of decay, since virtually the last newbie meanwhile found out that Celestia development stagnates since many months.

We think it is just not an appropriate attitude for Celestia's lead-developer to "hide" without any comments for many months without giving people some kind of "perspective"...

Bye Fridger

alpha1plus wrote:Every few months, someone proposes that they be made some kind of "vision co-ordinator" even though they can't code and don't know anything abot the technical aspects of improving Celestia. Ideas are all over the forum for anyone who is interested to work on. Celestia doesn't need more vision about what to implement. It needs more implementation. In short, dreams are cheap, quality code is expensive.


Joe,

that issue seems sufficiently important to me to express my clearcut disagreement. In my opinion, thoroughly exploring new major directions for Celestia development is of paramount importance for its long-term outstanding role as a leading space simulation software! Resting with old concepts and patching the code here and there a bit (as is happening since many months) is just not enough in this "business". Other similar or related programs are trying to catch up, both at the open source and the commercial front. Take 'Stellarium' for example or 'Kstars' (Linux KDE). Although these programs are still relatively young, one can smell already the inherent upcoming potential and professional level development...

The upshot of my plea is of course that for this kind of software one needs both: the vision-people who have the scientific know-how to work out in detail (and correctly!) the astronomical/astrophysical/cosmological fundaments as well as the coding and graphics rendering experts! Celestia after all is a highly complex piece of astrophysics rendered in 3d! Most importantly, however, communication among these different kinds of developers must be "well and alive"...

We used to have these human resources in a unique and close to perfect mix. But not anymore, unfortunately...

It seems I also have to take a break after contributing close to 2500 forum posts besides the Celestia developer "stuff". I am not at all upset. Just bored to death about what has been going on recently in this forum and in the developers list.

Meanwhile I might just go on for my pleasure on weekends with doing "precision games" like this (extracting new hires texture info for Iapetus, for example) :

Image

Perhaps, I am also back tomorrow ;-) who knows...

Bye Fridger
Last edited by t00fri on 25.04.2005, 20:46, edited 4 times in total.

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Post #15by ElChristou » 25.04.2005, 19:42

Yes you're right, but I was talking about forking the soft IN the Celestia community, and by respect, let the authors take the decision...

Now, for example, if someone want to create his own community with coders, artists, with his own forum to do a game based on Celestia as an engine, calling his soft XYZ, no problem... but then this question has nothing to do in the Celestia forum/community...
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Post #16by hjw » 25.04.2005, 20:01

Yes you're right, but I was talking about forking the soft IN the Celestia community, and by respect, let the authors take the decision...

Now, for example, if someone want to create his own community with coders, artists, with his own forum to do a game based on Celestia as an engine, calling his soft XYZ, no problem... but then this question has nothing to do in the Celestia forum/community...


I completly agree with you.

To put it straight: I don't think that forking celestia into two (or even more) different branches makes sense
when there are not enough coders to work for one branch.

BUT: having a kind of play ground (as has been mentioned above) to test new
ideas would be great. Sometimes it takes less time to code some
quick proof-of-concept than to describe in words (within a foreign
language) what a new feature will look like and what it will do.

MfG - HjW

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Post #17by ElChristou » 25.04.2005, 20:09

Hjw,

I was looking at your profil, but it is almost empty... :?

Are you coder?
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Post #18by hjw » 25.04.2005, 20:29

I was looking at your profil, but it is almost empty...
Are you coder?


Yes. I just updated my profile. I also studied physics for two and a half years
(don't know wether or not that impresses anybody :-) ).

HjW

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Post #19by ElChristou » 25.04.2005, 20:45

Ok, Everybody...

What about doing a mapping of the community??
I propose to do a thread to list exactly the actual capacities of people overhere:
Coders, Scientific consultant, 3D artist, 2D artist...

We will see clearly if something can orgenized meanwhile Chris is absent...

Opinion??
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Post #20by Christophe » 25.04.2005, 21:46

In this particular case forking doesn't make sense at all. People don't fork a project because the original isn't progressing fast enough. I fail to see how forking Celestia would fix this.

Projects get forked when there is a very strong political (ie licence) or technical disagreement between the members of the development team, and the disagreement is so strong that they just can't keep working on the same codebase.

Nothing of that sort has happened with Celestia.

If you want to fork Celestia, this is fine by me, but show us the code, otherwise this is just vapor.
Christophe


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