Open Source is just about the source code—isn’t it?

Open Source is just about the source code—isn’t it?

Wednesday, April 18
11:00 AM - 11:40 AM
Room I

The code base of the open source technology you want to build your business on is rock solid. Releases are rolling out early and often. The test suite is comprehensive and running regularly. Code is well performing without any glitches. Everything is in place that defines a successful open source project—or isn't it?

This talk tries to highlight some of the key business questions when dealing with open source. In addition to coding skills, topics like people management, naming, trademark enforcement, licensing, patents, PR, and more become topics that even the most tech-centric open source products have to deal with. The way these topics are dealt with defines how stable the technology you are looking at today will be in years to come. The Apache Software Foundation has a ton of wisdom in running open source projects targeting long term success.

After years of using open source projects, running my own projects, founding meetups and conferences, watching others thrive or fail, I believe that coding skills alone aren't sufficient to turn a "private playground code base" into an open source project that others can rely on.

Inspired by 140 characters of truth published here, the talk will focus on what topics that are usually not taught as part of programming courses will cross your way when dealing with open source—either as a user or as a contributor:
• People: Is the project willing and able to attract more contributors? Is it able to survive if the leader loses interest or time to continue contributing? How does the project deal with requests coming from the user base? How easy is it for users to get their issues fixed?
• Trademarks: Why should you care about trademarks from the beginning? How do you deal with others infringing on your trademarks?
• Copyright: Why should you care exactly which license you choose?
• PR: While writing release notes is common practice and composing changelogs is pretty easy, the resulting documents are hard to grok for editors and won't get you on the front page of any magazine. Nor will they help you get visibility on common social media systems that might be key in informing your users about recent releases.

While being excellent at all topics isn't vital from the start, answers to governance questions decide what a project looks like a few years from its start. This talk will start with a brief overview of the history of The Apache Software Foundation, diving into what the ominous thing called "The Apache Way" means, why the slogan "community over code" is not just a slogan, and why every user of the foundation's projects is invited and treated as a potential future developer of the software they use. We will look at some of the criteria every software engineer should be aware of who has to make a decision on which open source project to use.

Presentation Video


Isabel Drost-Fromm
Open Source Strategist
Europace AG
Isabel Drost-Fromm is Open Source Strategist at Europace AG Germany. She's a member of the Apache Software Foundation, co-founder of Apache Mahout and mentored several incubating projects. Isabel is interested in all things FOSS, search and text mining with a decent machine learning background. True to the nature of people living in Berlin she loves having friends fly in for a brief visit - as a result she co-founded and is still one of the creative heads behind Berlin Buzzwords, a tech conference on all things search, scale and storage.