Re: NCSA's un-free browser

Ryan Grant (
Thu, 1 Sep 1994 07:14:02 +0200

At 10:50 PM 8/29/94 +0200, Thomas Walsh wrote:
>I recently tried to work out an arrangmennt where I would enhance
>parts of Moisaic (or Web parts in general ) and donate the work
>to the NCSA. They told me I would have to purchase the licsense
>from spyglass or get a federal grant to see the source code.
>How have others dealt with this? Is it fair for a federally
>funded research effort of which I have helped pay for and
>could probably help make better for the true masses (IMHO :)
>and now can't even touch.

I think accessability is a valid concern, but NCSA has not donated the
Mosaic code to the public domain. I'm not going to argue how involved
you have a right to be just because it's partially federally funded.
I will say that managing bugs in donated code is not appealing, and this
is a consideration. There may be other ways to get involved, including
developing applet programs (via interprocess communication), and
demonstrating your ideas without needing to build them into a browser.

> Are they now profiteering and
>"selecting" who should profit from this on our behalf??

I'd say NCSA has decided not to spend the resources to honor every license
request, and as a result the current solution has developed. NCSA is not
required to throw resources at each and every user request (like other
government agencies) - not even for licensing. NCSA _is_ trying to make
money off of Mosaic, which is why we are licensing it. Since federal
research money is harder to come by these days, this is not unfair. On
the contrary, it ensures a better product is available to the public.

>Don't they have to hold a bid to see who gets to mantain
>the (potentially ) lucrative licsense and development buisness?

No. But if so, when? Now that everybody is rushing to license - or
at a time to prepare for the current rush?

>Can we get specific information regarding there proposed new
>Mosaic (or whatever it is). Is this an open approach or are
>they trying to keep it to themselves for the good of us?

New versions of Mosaic will continue to come from both NCSA and Spyglass.
NCSA is committed to open standards developmed by the Web community.
Spyglass is following the same open standards.

>Am I whinning or do others share my concerns?
Is this necessarily an "or" question?

>Should we skip NCSA Mosaic and thank it for the spotlight
>and jumpstart in this technological area and go on to bigger
>and better techniques (not hard to do!)?

The plan is that you need not skip NCSA Mosaic to move on to
better technologies for information presentation.

- Ryan Grant
NCSA Mosaic for Windows Development