Building Community Roadmaps

Road map imageA project roadmap is a valuable document for a community open source project. For growing projects, even when the developers are predominantly working for one company, the roadmap is invaluable and accomplishes a number of things at once:

  • It is a great tool for setting shared priorities and setting limits for what is in and out of scope for the project
  • It encourages the developer team to be transparent about planning and provides context for more discrete quantities of work
  • For engaged community members, it gives an opportunity to contribute to the improvement of the project, by suggesting features which are not on the roadmap, or by volunteering to develop features, which are included but not yet committed by the core team
  • Finally, for casual users of the project, and visitors evaluating whether they would like to use the project, it gives an idea of what is coming down the road

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An OSCON Milestone

2018 has been a big year for Linux. Red Hat is celebrating its 25th anniversary (as well as Slackware!), and we are not the only ones with significant birthdays. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and a touchstone conference in the open source ecosystem: OSCON. And this year’s show is celebrating in style, moving back to where many would say it always belonged, Portland, Oregon.

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Well, That Just Happened

When I wrote the May 29 blog entry, “Taking a Break,” I really wasn’t trying to be prescient. But what was meant to be a gentle reminder for community members to take mental health breaks, turned into the next-to-last blog posting on this site for over a month’s time.

That’s because when the May 31 post was attempted to publish, we discovered some serious issues on the previous content management system that prevented the automated CI process from clearing content to be posted on this site.

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How Risky is License Risk?

Every once in a while, somebody will come along and highlight that restrictive licenses carry more risk than permissive licenses. I think this is not as big a threat as some would have you believe.

There are two main branches of what is broadly known as free/libre open source software (FLOSS). Free software licenses are restrictive in the sense that if you use software and modify it, and then want to share it with someone else, you must share your changes with the original project.

Open source software licenses are defined as permissive, since there are typically no sharing requirements on the code. You make your changes and then share the code only if you want to.

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Taking a Break

Beach Ball

Memorial Day in the US is traditionally the unofficial start of summer, but ironically it’s also the start of a busy community season around the world.

With more students out of school, code contributions on various projects tend to rise. Conferences also tend to increase in frequency (particularly towards the end of the season). But even as life gets busier, it’s important to remember to pace yourself.

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Is Coopetition Real?

boxer Let’s not kid ourselves: the free and open source community is not all laurel (yanni?) leaves and Kumbaya. There are arguments all the time.

Vi vs. emacs. Restrictive vs. permissive. Open vs. proprietary. Heck, on most days, I have had discussions about one or more of these topics before I’ve finished my morning coffee.

When you add business interests in the mix, the arguments add a whole new layer of motivation because now we’re talking about money and sales.

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Look Both Ways

bus It’s a pretty violent metaphor, this notion of what happens to your open source software project if one or more of its members might get hit by a bus. Or a truck. Or whatever motor vehicle of doom happens to be barreling down the road of fate. At first thought, one might simply want to urge people to look both ways when crossing the street.

But the bus factor is a real concern for many open source projects, because too often a lot of the work finds itself in the hands of just a few people, who in turn become very critical to the project’s success.

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Fly Your FLOSS Flag

Whether it’s a favorite sports team, a school, or just a group of friends, there is something about human nature that seems to drive many of us to display our affiliation.

We do this, typically, by displaying plumage that is synchronized. If I am a fan or a particular team, and I see someone wearing a matching jersey, then I can identify with that person in some way, even if it’s the first time I have met them.

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