Presenting ØMQ at the Mix-IT conference in Lyon in early 2012, I was asked several times for the “road map.” My answer was: there is no road map any longer. We had road maps, and we deleted them. Instead of a few experts trying to lay out the next steps, we were allowing this to happen organically. The audience didn’t really like my answer. So un-French.
However, the history of ØMQ makes it quite clear why road maps were problematic. In the beginning, we had a small team making the library, with few contributors, and no documented road map. As ØMQ grew more popular, and we switched to more contributors, users asked for road maps. So we collected our plans together and tried to organize them into releases. Here, we wrote, is what will come in the next release.
As we rolled out releases, we hit the problem that it’s very easy to promise stuff, and rather harder to make it as planned. For one thing, much of the work was voluntary, and it’s not clear how you force volunteers to commit to a road map. But also, priorities can shift dramatically over time. So we were making promises we could not keep, and the real deliveries didn’t match the road maps.
The second problem was that by defining the road map, we in effect claimed territory, making it harder for others to participate. People do prefer to contribute to changes they believe were their idea. Writing down a list of things to do turns contribution into a chore rather than an opportunity.
Finally, we saw changes ...