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Choosing a license for my static website framework

You might remember that some time ago I wrote a static website generator and that I wanted to release it as Free Software at some point in time.

Well, right now I’m using that code to create three different websites – mine the one for my amateur director friend and the one for a Metal band – which is not too shabby for something that started as a way to avoid repeating the same code over and over again, and it actually grew bigger than I expected at first.

Right now, it not only generates the pages, but also the sitemap and to some extent the robots.txt (by providing for instance the link to the sitemap itself). It can generate pages that link to Flickr photos and albums, including providing descriptions and having a gallery-like showcase page, and it also has some limited support for YouTube videos (the problem there is that YouTube does not have a RESTful API; I can implement REST calls through XSLT, but I don’t think I would be able to program GData protocol with that).

Last week, I was clearing up the code a bit more, because I’m soon going to use it for a new website (for a game – not video game – a friend of mine invented and is producing) and ended up finding some interesting documentation from Yahoo! on providing semantic information for their search engine (and I guess, to some extent, Google as well).

This brought up two questions to me:

  • is it worth keeping working on this framework based on XSLT alone? As I said, Flickr support was piece-of-cake, because the API they use is REST-based, but YouTube’s GData-based API definitely require something “more”. And at the same time, even Flickr gallery wrapping has been a bit of a problem, because I cannot really properly paginate using XSLT 1.0 (and libxslt does not support XSLT 2.0, where the iterators I needed are implemented). While I like the consistent generation of code, I start to feel like it needs something to pre-process the data before sending it out; for instance I could make some program just filter the references to youtube videos, write down an XML description of them, downloaded with GData, and then let XSLT handle that. Or cache the Flickr photos (which would be very good to avoid requesting all the photos’ details every time the website is updated);
  • I finally want to publish FSWS to the public; even if – or maybe especially – I want to discontinue it or part of it, or morph into something that is less “pure” than what I have now. What I’m not sure about is which license to use. I don’t want to make it just GPL, as that implies that you can modify it and never give anything back, since you won’t redistribute the framework, but the results; AGPL-3 sounds more like it, but I don’t want to make the pages generated by the framework to apply that license. Does anybody have an idea?

I’m also open to suggestion on how something like this should work. I really would prefer if the original content is written simply in XML: it’s close enough to the output format (XHMTL/HTML5) and shouldn’t be much of a trouble to write. The less vague idea I have on the matter is to use multiple steps of XML conversion; already the framework uses some nasty two-pass conversion of the input document (it splits in N-branches depending on the configured languages, then it processes the two branches almost independently to produce the output), and since some content is generated by the first pass, it’s also difficult to make sure that all the references are there for links and similar.

It would be easier if I could write my own xslt functions: I could just replace an element referring to a youtube video with a reference to a (cached) XML document, and similarly for Flickr photos. But to do so I guess I’ll either have to use JavaScript and an XSLT processor that supports it, or I should write my own libxslt-based processor that can understand some special functions to deal with GData and similar.

Comments 3
  1. _”I don’t want to make the pages generated by the framework to apply that license”_To my mind, that would be a very unusual state of affairs.Is there an example where a software’s license is mandatorily applied to the content generated by that software?

  2. Almost all software that uses template for generation have “special exceptions”:… for them.This applies to GNU projects as well, including but not limiting to flex & bison, autoconf/automake, and part of GCC (in particular the STL).

  3. Thanks for the information; you have opened my eyes to an aspect of licensing which previously I hadn’t considered.

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