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

Brian Crowell mono-docs at fluggo.com
Mon Feb 27 18:48:15 EST 2006

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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