License Wizard

Brian O'Byrne bobyrne at
Fri Apr 8 11:19:59 UTC 2005

Hi all,

This is an interesting discussion on the License Wizard, and I'd like 
to put in a slightly different take on it.

It seems to me that creating a complete and closed tree of questions 
is a horrendously complex task, and will be difficult to maintain as 
new licenses come on stream.

Instead come up with a classification system with several different 
categories, each license rated on each category, and a linear set of 
questions asking the users opinion on each category.

Categories like:
Copyleft (viral, riciprocal, whatever you want to call it...)
Patent-based termination clauses
Derivatives as Original + Diff or just the derivative
etc .

Each category may have just one question or possibly a short series of 

The result is a matrix of the user's priorities. This can be matched 
against the known licenses and a list of candidate licenses 
presented. (I think it is very unrealistic for us to expect to be 
able to recommend a single license from an automated wizard, the best 
we can reasonably do is eliminate all those that definitely do not 
match the user's requirements and try to order the rest.)

Each license owner can be asked to provide a rating for their license 
for each of the classifications. (Possibly to be debated here).
If a new classification emerges it can be added later.

I think that is a workable idea that will provide some support for 
people choosing licenses without placing too great a burden on 
license submitters or the OSI.

It may also lead to other ways of browsing licenses, such as a 
SourceForge-style Map.

... and without making it sound too much like a silver bullet, it 
might encourage license submitters to think carefully about how their 
license is different to existing licenses.


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