Today we’d like to feature a much less visible component of the upcoming Eden that is, nevertheless, something the team deems extremely important.
As a rule, we believe that a user’s install of XBMC is his or her own install of XBMC. That’s why you won’t be clicking through any terms of service or other contractual agreements when you install XBMC onto your system. That’s why XBMC is licensed under the GPL. That’s why virtually all development is done entirely in the open and source is invariably available well before an official release. The software is the community’s to do with as they please (so long as anything they do to the software and subsequently release is also made freely available, of course).
Perhaps more than anybody else, XBMC’s resident police officer of keeping things free is a dev who some call Arne, but most (around these parts) call Spiff. Spiff is one of the reasons why, back when the addon system was in development, revision data for each addon was mandatory, so that by the time Eden was rolled out, the Team would be able to announce Addon Rollbacks.
Put simply, just as we believe XBMC is yours, we believe addons are yours as well. Most people leave addon auto-updating enabled, to get the latest and greatest code. But auto-updating can be a double edged sword. What happens when an addon is updated and the user doesn’t like the update? With the program XBMC itself, the user could simply uninstall the most recent version and install an older copy. With addons, users were out of luck. Until now.
If you update to the latest version of Confluence and don’t like it, no problem. Rollback. If your copy of the tvdb scraper isn’t working as well as the last version, no problem. Rollback. The power is back in your hands.
Perhaps best of all, that means the power is just a little bit more out of our hands and the hands of the addon developer. Recently a certain hardware company who shall go nameless (but is a little fruity in nature) changed the rules for their “apps,” forcing certain other app authors to shoot out updates that did nothing but make their apps less useful by removing links to websites where users could buy more content.
If a user in that walled garden updated, either intentionally or by accident, they were stuck with the newly hobbled app with no way to go back. If, heaven forbid, XBMC ever went down a path in which a business decision resulted in hobbled addons, the users would already have the power in their hands to completely ignore our terrible mistakes.
Once again, as far as Eden features go, this is a relatively minor one. As far as open source development philosophies go, there are few more important.