When is it okay to duplicate another open source project?
The last few weeks I've been working on a new web-based rich text editor. It’s a semantic editor, or “What You See Is What You Mean” (WYSIWYM). You edit using styles you define then import or export to whatever you need. Following cues from Medium and others on the perils of content-editable, I stopped relying on the browser to store the model. Instead I built an internally consistent model that only uses the DOM for handling input and pastes. This approach makes the editor robust, flexible, and very easy to customize.
I started this project because I was frustrated with existing options. Every library based on content-editable is tied to existing UI toolkits, and assumes you are editing HTML. They are all very hard to customize. If you wanted to create a editor for just addresses or math equations, these libraries can’t support that level of customization.
The original impetus for this project was supporting my blog, but it’s grown into something full featured and scalable. I think would be a good open source project. And given that I’m soon to be unemployed, I am considering launching a KickStarter project to provide funds for working on it full time, as well as letting backers prioritize important features.
Yesterday I posted the first live demo of my project.
Then I found this: Prose Mirror. Not 30 minutes later! This project does exactly what I’ve been working on, and he’s raising funding on IndieGogo to open source it. And, as the author of CodeMirror, he has more credibility than I when it comes to shipping open source editors.
Needless to say I was crushed and considered immediately ending development. After Tweeting someone said I should keep working on it anyway. “Execution matters more than ideas”.
So, what do you think Internet? When is it okay to duplicate an open source project? If his Indiegogo campaign succeeds (which I’m sure it will), then his code will be opened. Is it worth having two open source libraries doing the same thing? Would you be willing to sponsor a second library, given that the first one already exists?