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Hipp, Hipp, Hooray

By Richard Collins-243383,

Hipp, Hipp Hooray

This week, I had the belated pleasure of reading the Guardian newspaper's interview with Dr Richard Hipp. I was struck by how much like Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Hipp is. Like the father of the web, a man almost as famous for his self-effacement and altruism in forgoing any profit from his idea, as for the idea itself, Hipp hasn't the most commercial of minds.

And like the worldwide web, the product Hipp is best known for is free.

SQLite (ess-que-elll-ite), the self-contained tiny database engine and client, is used by a host of big players. It has been selected for Adobe's forthcoming AIR application, is distributed with PHP 5.0, the hugely popular open source scripting language for web applications. It is in Symbian 9.5, an embedded operating system for smartphones, and numerous other products, including Google Gears. Some exciting tools are becoming available for creating and administering SQLite databases, such as Maestro and this is just the beginning.

And yet Hipp receives absolute no royalty for the millions of copies being used by commercial and non-commercial users alike.The reason, of course, is that he has placed SQLite in the public domain. Instead of a usual legal notice warning users of the dire consequences of infringing the license, there is this refreshing and rather charming message:

'Here is a blessing: may you do good and not evil. May you find forgiveness for yourself and forgive others. May you share freely, never taking more than you give'

Admittedly there is a commercial aspect to the product. Hipp runs www.hwaci.comthat provides support for the application, sells extensions for specialized features including encryption and compression. It is only a small blip of a company, despite the huge popularity of the software, but he seems more than happy with his lot.

Pessimists take note: the IT profession, as a whole, is as good at pure invention as ever.

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