[ox-en] Why is Apache so successful?
- From: Stefan Merten <smerten oekonux.de>
- Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 21:40:01 +0100
The following is an excerpt from an interview with Roy T. Fielding by
Kai Tödter. Roy - among other interesting things - is one of the
founders of the Apache Software Foundation and had a crucial role in
developing `Apache HTTPD`_. The Apache HTTPD is the Web server
software from Apache which were their original product and on its
homepage proudly says:
Apache has been the most popular web server on the Internet since
The interview was published in JavaSpektrum_ 06/07. I translated two
answers which are of particular interest here.
Kai: Why is the Apache HTTP server so successful?
Roy: This has many reasons. We started with a great group of people
where one half was from commercial organizations and the other were
PhD students or "fresh" PhDs. Our development team was very diverse.
A feature needed to be used (and tested) by at least one core
developer in a live site before it was included in the server.
Robert Thau developed an excellent modular architecture which was
designed especially for the Web and which made extensions from third
parties possible while at the same time kept the robust behavior of
the server. We had no marketing division which burdened us with
irrelevant features just because an analyst, a reporter or a manager
thought it would be important. All our features have been tested on
real productive sites before they went into the server base. But
only after they have been checked and acknowledged by three
Of course in addition the code is free and Open Source which has
advantages in itself besides the quality of the resulting
implementation. In the end this [the HTTPD web server -- SMn] is the
printing press of the modern age. It would have been a tragedy to
allow this to be controlled by a "for profit" company. In the end
for a good part the long time success is a result of that we
insisted on a cooperative development led by the group with a formal
voting mechanism to settle disputes instead of a single benevolent
dictator who decides everything. The project had over 50 core
developers and more than six technical leaders at different points
during its history. And it still runs with the same basic principles
we defined in 1995.
Kai: Do you think that Open Source changes the (software) world?
Roy: It already has and many times. The Web is Open Source. The
whole Internet infrastructure is Open Source. Most of the Closed
Source software contains at least a little Open Source especially in
the Java world. Day Software [the company where Roy works as chief
scientist -- SMn] has several closed source products but nearly all
our infrastructure software in these products is based on Open
Source projects which we take part in and which in some cases even
take a good share of the development effort. We used our Open Source
engagement to attract some of the world best software developers to
work for Day Software. In addition we get more advanced and
intelligent feedback about our core software infrastructure. From
Open Source users we get important feedback with a far higher chance
than from commercial customers. Often the Open Source users come
with detailed research and fixes.
.. _Apache HTTPD: http://httpd.apache.org/
.. _JavaSpektrum: http://www.sigs-datacom.de/sd/publications/js/index.htm
Contact: projekt oekonux.de