Who stole what?

This is not an investigative article, but one that is rather important from the fact that what happens when things do go wrong.
On August 2nd, 2011 there was a press release http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/8/prweb8688745.htm it announced the coalition of the Mobile Monetization and Social Leaders with Ansca Mobile. It would add powerful new functionality to CoronaSDK. It was on 3rd of February 2012 that there was an article http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/03/ansca-mobile-accuses-partner-papayamobile-of-copying-its-code/ in under 6 months of their partnership, it went sour. and there was this http://developer.anscamobile.com/forum/2012/02/16/removing-papaya-and-super-rewards-corona-sdk-builds

Ansca has alleged that PapayaMobile has ripped parts of it's SDK for use in the Social Gaming Engine. On reading this sentence, it was necessary to see what have PapayaMobile ripped? As far as I know, The company that was started by Carlos and Walter, the Ansca Mobile that was a friendly place to be, nice people to talk to has changed, it has become the exact same thing that Carlos and Walter escaped from. It is interesting to see that there is a new COO, who was the VP Marketing and who was... when Ansca Mobile started.

First let us look at the copying bit, it was indeed very stupid on part of PapayaMobile to have published code with assets from Ansca. As of this morning, if you download the SDK from Papaya Mobile's site, you will still get the assets from Ansca with the wooden background and Ansca logo. That is wrong, but only morally. Ansca have been touting that any code/asset that is posted on their site is MIT licensed, do what you want with it, so what happened now, did they suddenly revoke their Do what you want license? Why?

The face of the company, the synonymous name with CoronaSDK was Carlos Icaza. Off late there are fewer appearances by either him or Walter. It seems that after getting the $1m funding, Carlos has lost his labour of love. In fact in the several discussions with him in the past, while they were starting out, He would go out and get consulting projects where as Walter would spend time on creating this wonderful technology that we know as CoronaSDK today. Maybe Carlos is headed for a similar greatness as Steve Jobs, Steve was ousted from his own company and then the second time he had to leave due to health reasons. At this point of time it seems that Carlos is losing, he has moved on from being the CxO to NOO, he just has the tag Co-Founder and of late Evangelism. With a third person stepping in, it is just an indication that he did not serve the boards' interest as a leader of their choice. Stakeholders do not want a happy community, they want a paying one.

Coming back to the PapayaMobile fiasco, what does the new COO have with Papaya? If you look closely, all of Ansca's dealing have been about what can they get out of it. They have discussed deals with individual developers and then backed out. Some have felt hurt and humiliated and never come back while others shrug it off as part of the business life. The deal with Papaya Mobile must have brought in something for Ansca otherwise the board and others would not have approved of it. So to match what other partners brought to the table, Ansca started their false measure of events served, which is nothing but a javascript that keeps adding 96 events per second. So while Papaya got a dip into the Corona user base just like Inneractive have, what more could they have gotten from this? They spend time on creating their own SDK, one that was based on ActionScript and Python.

The fact that the parts of the SDK were ripped, specifically the Physics, is an absolute crock. The Physics module is Box2D wrapped in lua, so anyone that has Box2D would have similar API calls. In one of our previous articles, I have discussed how there are similarities and/or differences between the various lua based frameworks. If one should allow you to load an image, how many way can you write a function to load an image? loadImage, getImage, loadAndDisplayImage, newImage and so on. So if for reasons of ease of use and size of the function name, if the API does seem similar, there should not be an issue. I will grant that CoronaSDK did establish the standard for being the first lua base framework that made mobile development easy and being longer in the market, it has a lot of code developed for it's API. In another article of concern I had mentioned what if for some reason they hold the process hostage and we are unable to afford compiling with CoronaSDK, all of the code created with CoronaSDK would go waste. So there will be plenty of attempts by individuals and companies that will try to create a compatibility layer that will allow the corona Code to compile, that is not ripping their API, it is just having similar wrappers as theirs.

The last point is that when they call out and cry wolf, they should realise that the whole idea of CoronaSDK is basically stolen from Adobe in the sense that it was there that they conceived this after all. Yes, the powers to be might not have heard the words of these guys and they quit to pursue their dreams and ideas. The fact remains that if it was heard, it would have been Adobe's. Secondly, what they started off from is exactly what they have ended up with again, they shed a large corporation with red tape to be custom wound, only much tighter.

So in short, COO Rangel (who surprisingly does not feature on the about page of Ansca, who has been in various roles has managed all of his fingers in the pie. This could be good or bad depending on how it turns out for Carlos. In terms of the PapayaMobile fiasco, it is plain stupid on the part of Papaya Mobile to use branded assets of another. However given the MIT license of Ansca Mobile, that should hardly be an issue. As far as the ripping of the SDK is concerned, unless the source code was stolen from Ansca and integrated into Papaya Mobile, I guess Rangel is just trying to announce that he is in position and needs that attention. I guess he has finally gotten those three letters, the CxO that he wanted. So he needs to do things Balmeresque after all Rangel is ex-Microsoft .

However this also brings us to another question that was raised a while ago. How secure is our source code with Ansca's compilation process. No one would want to see the millions of "Hello World" code compiled by the test drivers, but then once in a while when they see the Lost City or similar, they would want to have a peek into the code to see how could a user better them. After all the next time someone comes to them with money, requesting how to do Blah, they have the know how. No one would go through the entire pile of code that comes in for compilation, but only the ones that they feel is worth is picked up. After all the largest lua file is less than a MB, isn't it? and if the developer is really good, that will be split into smaller classes and modular, so even better, no one would notice the files being uploaded. The graphics can always be picked up from the app.

Things come around full circle and what goes up must come down. With that in mind, I think Ansca should focus on being more transparent and adding features to get more audience than trying to lock up everything.


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