Saturday 14 September 2013

Preventing Adobe from messing with ColdFusion community projects

I was chatting to me mate Andrew Myers on Twitter this morning, and he brought this Twitter exchange about - basically - the death of CFQuickDocs at Adobe's hands to my attention:

This irks me a bit... Andrew's right (I think) in that there's no other way of getting at this data other than scraping the page: there seems to be no API to get it. So Ray's response (although speaking appreciably frankly and not as an official Adobe position) is a bit unhelpfully dismissive here. This is unusual for him!

So... anyway... screw Adobe. I've decided I'm gonna scrape all the doc data I can, convert it to JSON, and stick it somewhere for people to access. As a first step I'm just gonna stick the JSON docs up on github somewhere (for everyone to use, as is the intent of Creative Commons), and from there maybe build a site that exposes a REST API to fetch individual documents or something. I have no actual plan of attack yet, I hasten to add.

One interesting thing I notice. The CF9 docs are explicitly covered by Creative Commons:

However the ColdFusion 10 docs are not. They are, instead, explicitly copyrighted. So I shan't be scraping those ones until I get clarification (which I will actively seek, and report back). This does seem rather contrary to the spirit of wikifying the docs... so they are soliciting public input, but basically keep all that work for themselves. Not very community-spirited. Just soliciting slave-labour, really.

The CF8 docs are explicitly copyrighted, in the Legal Notices page:

If this guide is distributed with software that includes an end user agreement, this guide, as well as the software described in it, is furnished under license and may be used or copied only in accordance with the terms of such license. Except as permitted by any such license, no part of this guide may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of Adobe Systems Incorporated.
I shall seek written permission to archive it for public use.

The ColdFusionMX 7 docs are copyrighted to Macromedia (and by implication, Adobe):

ColdFusion Documentation

Copyright © 1997-2004 Macromedia, Inc.
All rights reserved.
(I'll stop checking now).

OK. I'm off to work out how best to scrape all this CF9 documentation.

Comments / suggestions, as always, welcomed.