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Re: Bug#383481: Must source code be easy to understand to fall under DFSG?

Arnoud Engelfriet wrote:
> That's what I would think. But consider this example. I write texts
> in a homebrewed XML format, which makes little sense for anyone but
> me. Obviously I prefer to use that format. I have an XSLT
> transformation to make it HTML, and I distribute that HTML version of
> the texts. Is that source?

Yes, it seems the question here is *whose* "preferred form for

The GPL appears to assume there is a general consensus on this, and
there may not be.

It's clearly going to be a judgement call, but I'd guess that "in a
standard format" which will be understood by potential modifiers is more
important than "in the original form" which may not be.

Of course in your specific case, I think it'd be better to have your
original XML *and* the XSLT translator so that the HTML can be generated
from it. The question, I would suppose though is not one of "best
practice" but of "permissable practice", and I think the HTML is good

> Should a programmer who writes FORTRAN release that code, or the
> automated conversion to C?

I'd want the Fortran.

Fortran is a standard, widely available language, and my experience with
automatic translators says that they don't always generate
clean/readable code.  I'd say the same about flex/bison (or lex/yacc) code.

> I guess it's similar to the old XCF versus JPEG/GIF/PNG debate. I
> would say it depends on the intended use of the file. If the layers
> and other information in the XCF is no longer relevant, the PNG is
> just as much the source as the XCF. If it's likely that people want
> to edit

I think the issue with XCF was that the Gimp project didn't want to be
tied to XCF as an exchange format (reserving the ability to change it --
though I find that disturbing as it means my own XCF files might be
obsoleted by an upgrade, so I think they have the interchange problem
anyway).  But I digress.  ISTM that everything XCF does can be modelled
in SVG, which suggests that a better "source form" for an image
constructed of layers would be an SVG (rather than PNG, which loses the
layering information).

Unfortunately, I don't know of any XCF<->SVG converters, so it wouldn't
be so easy on developers.  This is constantly an issue with artistic
works because much of the "source" usually gets thrown away in the
process of development (otherwise there would be heaps and heaps of it
-- it's a bit like asking not for the current source code of a program,
but the entire version history with diffs, and while that might be nice,
I don't think it's ever been considered a requirement for "freeness").

In general, vector formats (like SVG) are better for collaboration, but
to limit exclusively to vector formats would rule out a lot of people
who don't know how (or simply don't want ) to use them. After all, it's
still a lot harder to make certain kinds of art in a vector editor.


(Not a debian developer or a lawyer. Just a user).

Terry Hancock (hancock@AnansiSpaceworks.com)
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com

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