[Mono-docs-list] [Fwd: Re: [Mono-dev] Current state of documentation?]

Brian Crowell mono-devel at fluggo.com
Mon Feb 27 18:51:25 EST 2006

(well, that didn't work right... let's try again)

Joshua Tauberer wrote:
>>There's a fundamental problem here: Any documentation you could write
>>for the base classes must necessarily be a derivative work of the
>>original ECMA documentation.
> That position rests on a number of legal issues that aren't well
> resolved.  Are method signatures derivative works?  Are the entire class
> libraries (the Mono source code) derivative works?  I don't think these
> questions have been resolved in U.S. courts.

Perhaps not, but that's not what I mean. I mean that the class libraries were
written to conform to the EMCA-335 documentation. I know the .NET implementation
is often treated as the gold standard, and wherever extra effort was needed for
conformance we should document it, but the implementation really starts from
conforming to the ECMA-335 docs.

Is the class library source a derivative work of that standard? I don't think so
at all. The Mono libraries are an implementation of the ideas embedded in the
standard, not a revision of its contents. But when it comes to the question of
the documentation for those libraries, any documentation not based on the ECMA
specification would almost certainly fall short. You would pretty much have to
reference the ECMA docs just to determine the original purpose of each method,
if the purpose isn't clear from the source. And we haven't even talked about the
additional examples, use cases, and architectural information that makes the
spec so helpful.

Is it possible to license the ECMA documentation text in a way compatible with
Mono licenses and principles? I don't know, but I think it's very worth it to
find out. If it's possible to both use and annotate the ECMA documentation where
it applies to the Mono libraries, I consider that the best of all worlds.


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