« Technology at digg.com | Main | Mission Critical Flight Planning Applications at the US Navy »

April 24, 2007

Professional Cat Herding: A FOSS Community Panel

I'm sitting in a session at the 2007 MySQL Conference where a handful of open source organizations are discussing working with communities. It is being facilitated by Jay Pipes, Community Relations Manager for MySQL.

Jay: What are the big Issues for your organization?

Zend: 3 big topics...2 of them security. The issues are security and frameworks. There are 99 frameworks.

SugarCRM: SugarForge (around 2 years old) has 300+ projects with millions of downloads. The issue is to make sure these extensions are secure and will work well with SugarCRM. Project certification is something they are thinking about. A new platform is coming to make module development even easier.

Pentahoo: Collaboration and making it efficient and valuable. There are around 75-100 folks participating.

Eclipse: Biggest challenge is segmentation. For example, who should Eclipse.org target? Should it be small list of committers, the larger group (hundreds of thousands) of member developers building on Eclipse, or the millions of end users. Also see a wide spectrum of belief in open source that makes it difficult to know how to present information. Some have open source as a strategy and others

MySQL: up to this point MySQL has really focused on users who are building *on* MySQL but are now making steps to include community in development efforts.

Jay: It is difficult to direct the community in a certain direction. What are the steps we can take to focus a community on doing something?

Eclipse: We don't pick winners. Don't try to recruit who they predict are going to be the leaders in the community on a certain technology. Create opportunities to have discussions.

Jay: Are there ways to control conflicts?

Pentahoo: Are higher up the stack so the conversations aren't religious debates. They are mostly companies that just need something. The architects spend time resolving commits.

SugarCRM: The community is a bunch of businesses, the developers are within the business. SugarCRM backs off. They try to maintain good relationships with key members because they carry a lot of weight.

Attendee: How do you folks get paid?

MySQL: Additional services. The licensing for enterprise is a lot of the business.

Pentahoo: Subscription model for support and indemnification.

SugarCRM Commercial open source. The open source project is free but there's a commercial product with more functionality. They have mostly open source users but find that a lot of folks want to upgrade.

Zend: Sell tools and offer professional services.

Jay: Is there a way that these various communities, knowledge, and resources could be better integrated?

Zend: Developers are a part of the community where they have the most focus. They tend to drop off areas where they don't have an immediate need.

General comment is that there should be RSS feeds from the various planets being picked up from the other planets and filtered accordingly.

Pentahoo: Perhaps get some kind of a credential or certificate that can be used across different organizations.

Jay: What kind of barriers are there that could be removed to foster better contributing?

Attendee feedback: Add single-signon (use OpenID) across various planets. Create a page with instructions for how to generate a patch and submit. Decide on a uniform patch format.

Posted by mike at April 24, 2007 5:41 PM