The Kitchen Sink May 20, 2009Posted by gordonwatts in ROOT.
While the plane was bouncing all over the map, it occurred to me that ROOT is a lot like Microsoft Office (indeed, any product like Office).
Looking at the list of libraries/packages in ROOT you might be tempted to call it bloatware. You’d be right, of course, but, just like MS Word and other similar programs, the libraries you think are important are different from the ones that someone else thinks are important. And almost all the libraries are available for separate use as well! But you’ll notice that few people are using it that way.
The reason is obvious – simplicity.
The brilliance of large software packages like MS Office and ROOT is not that they innovate (though both certianly do), it is that they have taken tried and true ways of doing things and made them work together by packaging them up and building bridges between them. Take TMVA, for example, the package that allows you to easily implement various multivariate analysis techniques (like a boosted decision tree). You can get that software separately – there are lots of packages out there. But TMVA is specifically designed to work with a TTree and other things in ROOT.
Once you get yourself into ROOT you have access to all these tools – and the potential barrier you have to get over to use them is minimal. You want to switch to something else? Of course you can do it – but it will be a lot of work! Just like MS Office.
I think people complain about ROOT and how hard it is to use, but use it anyway for the same reasons they complain about MS Office and its daughter programs. Fortunately, for MS Office, there is real $$ involved so other companies are finally starting to compete – which I hope will make MS Office better. I don’t see anything like that coming along to challenge ROOT until after I retire (or there is a complete revolution in how we do data analysis in HEP).