Alls well that ends well, we hope

PrimeFaces vs ICEfaces – ICEfaces President and CEO Brian McKinney’s response

Chris Mayer

Tensions ease between the two parties over code-usage

Following on from this week’s article, in which we reported
on the
fallout between the JavaServer Faces competitors
, we realised
we weren’t entirely being fair in not allowing ICEfaces to defend
PrimeFaces accused their rival of some fairly uncomplimentary
methods regarding the use of their code base to form a good
proportion of their ACE components, which is all fair in the open
source game. But they were irked by what they saw as a lack of
recognition for it.
We talked to CEO and President of ICEsoft, Brian McKinney who
sets the record straight.
Can you explain briefly why ICEsoft chose to fork the
Primefaces code in the first place? What attracted you to using
part of their library?

We had received extensive feedback from the ICEfaces
development community that they wanted to be able to integrate some
of the popular jQuery library elements within their ICEfaces / JSF
2 applications.  We were aware that Prime Technology had done
a great job of wrapping JQuery and YUI components so that they
would work in JSF 2 applications. We chose to leverage the
PrimeFaces 2 open source component library because it represented
the best JSF 2 compliant solution for accessing jQuery components
at the time.

Code changes were required however in order to
integrate the select PrimeFaces components into the ICEfaces
application framework, and to implement some of the other feature
enhancement requests we had received from our customers. In order
to meet our support obligations and our committed service level
agreements, ICEsoft had to retain the ability to make code changes
on an ongoing basis so we could resolve bugs and affect solutions
in a timely manner. We had originally hoped that we could achieve
this under some kind of sponsorship arrangement with the PrimeFaces
project. Unfortunately the two parties were unable to come to terms
and we made the decision to fork the project.

By selecting the Apache license, do you not feel that
ICEsoft should be giving something back? Do you in fact have an
obligation to improve the code? If so, what has ICEsoft
brought back into the process?

ICEsoft is a strong and active proponent of the open
source model, and a big piece of the open source culture is this
notion of taking a piece of open source software, building upon it
and enhancing it, and finally returning those enhancements back to
the community for others to do the same. Which is exactly what
happened here.

In the course of our integration of various PrimeFaces,
jQuery and YUI components we made over two hundred code submissions
to resolve bugs or provide enhancements to the components. The data
table is a good example of feature enhancements that were made.
Data tables are traditionally one of the most popular and
frequently used components in the the web application developers
toolbox.  With its enhancements, the data table component is
now one of the richest and most comprehensive components in the
industry. All of which, the enhancements the bug fixes etc. was
returned back to the open source community for users to freely use
and further enhance on their own.

Do you feel an ethical line was

No ethical lines were crossed. We believe that
everything we have done is fully consistent with the primary intent
and spirit of open source development.  

That said, open source also has a long history of
providing transparency to developers and a tradition of giving
credit were credit it due. This is where much of the discussion on
the Web appears to be focused. When we released the ACE library, we
chose to recognize the contributions made by the PrimeFaces, jQuery
and YUI open source projects in our product collateral and in the
product source code. No attempts were made to hide this

We believed that the level of acknowledgement provided
to Prime Technology regarding its contribution was appropriate,
commensurate with other cases in the industry, and consistent with
the level of benefits realized from the other open source projects,
jQuery and YUI. It is clear that others felt the level of
acknowledgment was insufficient and in hindsight, perhaps it was.
It was certainly not our intent to diminish their contributions and
we have taken recent steps to increase the transparency associated
with integration of elements of the PrimeFaces, jQuery, and YUI
open source libraries.  

Did you see this as an attempt from
a competitor to slur your name? 

No. Open source communities are filled with dedicated
and passionate members that are used to voicing their opinions. The
challenge is to make sure that they have access to all the
information they need to come up with a fully informed

Where do you believe the 90% figure came from, purely
from the selected components in the blogpost?

I think we are all guilty of exaggerating numbers when
we are engaged in lively and impassioned debate and dialog.  
I believe a rough number was thrown out early in the dialog as part
of a broader point.  Unfortunately it was picked up on as
gospel and repeated over and over again by others even though it
wasn’t accurate at all.  

Do you feel PrimeFaces made a fuss about a very small
part of your work?

ICEsoft sponsors a number of popular open source
projects, including ICEmobile and ICEpdf as well as ICEfaces.
 All of which are available for free to the open source
community.  It is unfortunate that this discussion has
distracted from the value that they are delivering to the

Do you feel you can both co-exist in the same

Absolutely.  We have in the past and I believe we
will continue into the future.

ICEfaces have released
an FAQ page
which deals with the claims made against them and
answers in detail their stance on the whole debacle. PrimeFaces in response issued a
final blog – contesting that they had been advised about ICEfaces
decision to fork – but that they were satisified with the credit

Thankfully it appears that both sides in this argument would
prefer to focus on developing for the timebeing – a wise move as we
want both to be the best they can. Squabbling really gets us
nowhere and we think it’s best to draw a line under the whole

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