One of the things that I love about open source is that it's a great way to let innovation and collaboration happen in the absence of lawyers dictating every jot and tittle of an integration. As a case in point, I woke up today to see that someone has integrated Joomla! with Alfresco (and dubbed the result "Joosco").In a nutshell, Joosco is a front-end for Alfresco, in Joomla!. It works by creating a new entry in a menu in Joomla, called Documents, for example. The users can click on this link to go to a new … Read more
Canonical continues to push the envelope for ease of development, announcing that it will release its Personal Package Archive (PPA) service. As Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols reports, PPA makes it easy for developers to modify and publish a package for Ubuntu without a committee group hug to bless the decision. It also means it will be much easier to get software into the hands of users/testers to glean their feedback:
PPA, which has been in beta since July, is a major part of Ubuntu's own development system, Launchpad. Launchpad is a set of integrated tools that support collaboration and community formation. These include a team management tool, a bug tracker, code hosting, translations, a blueprint tracker and an answer tracker. Its best feature, the bug-tracker, works by trying to track separate conversations about the same bug in external project bug trackers, such as Bugzilla, Roundup, SourceForge and the Debian Bug Tracking System.… Read more
What does it take to run a successful open-source project? Does leadership go to the best developer? To the smartest geek in the room? In other words, to everyone but me?
No, no, and yes, it turns out, as academic researchers Siobh?n O'Mahony and Fabrizio Ferraro recently published in the Academy of Management Journal Just as in off-line, non-developer communities, leadership within open-source communities falls on the shoulders of those who exercise it. Namely, those who care about a project as a community and nurture it, rather than those who simply write th best code within that community.
It is commonly believed that open source communities operate in a meritocratic manner: positions of authority are allocated according to merit. However, it is not clear whether merit in these communities means technical contributions or organization building. One developer, commenting on Debian's 2001 election for leadership, noted, "I have seen a lot of developers go from nobodies to being absolutely huge on the project." So, does a great code guarantee a great leadership position?… Read more
Talk to an open-source developer, and they'll tell you that they code for more than the 1s and 0s. Whether it's for the "egoboo" (reputation boost) that Eric Raymond notes or for some other reason, it's usually not for cash [PDF]. Most open-source developers code for more than money (though money is important).
According to a 2002 survey done by the Boston Consulting Group [PDF], the primary reason developers contribute to open-source projects is that they find it "intellectually stimulating." Th second reason was that it "improves skill." Third was "work functionality." "Money" didn't make the list.… Read more
Whenever I'm writing something here and my subconscious whispers, "You're probably wrong," I should learn to stop and ask. Alas, I'm a blogger with a day job, so I usually hit "Publish" and wait for someone on the other side of the issue to set me straight.
Such is the case today with Mozilla's Firefox 3.0 release, which I (and a wide range of others) reported would be shipping with 80% of its (remaining) blocker bugs/issues still unresolved. The truth is not so simple, as it turns out.
At some point, of course, the number of "bugs we'll ship with" will hit 100%, unless we manage to produce the first piece of bug free software I?ve ever worked with, but even with such numerical truisms aside, the picture here isn?t as simple as it seems.… Read more
Whatever happened to open-source projects being released according to development readiness, rather than an arbitrary release schedule?
Mozilla seems to have forgotten this, with The New York Times reporting that the upcoming Firefox 3.0 set to ship with only 20 percent of its remaining 700 "blocker" (serious enough to justify postponing a release) bugs resolved before it ships.
Of course, Mozilla has already fixed over 11,000 bugs, according to Mozilla developer Asa Dotzler. Even so, that doesn't answer the apparent fact that the Firefox development community is planning to ship a product before a wide range of known blocker bugs are resolved. (Firefox 3 meeting notes can be perused here.)
For now, the mountain to climb appears quite high, as The New York Times notes:
As Mozilla pushes to post Beta 1 of Firefox 3.0, it has asked developers to prioritize already-identified bugs so that the most important can be fixed. But according to notes of yesterday's Firefox 3.0 status meeting, that will leave about eight in 10 bugs untouched.… Read more
The thing about open source is that if you give it an inch, it will take a mile. Take Java, for instance. Apple has not stepped up to enable its iPhone to run Java, but that's OK. The community appears to have plans to do Apple's work for it:
Apple has not made Java capable of running on the [iPhone]. But Sun's Terrence Barr, technical evangelist for Java ME (Micro Edition), believes Apple's plans to release a software developer's kit for iPhone in early 2008 may result in the open-source phoneME version of Java ME … Read more
So close, and yet so far away. Scott Guthrie, General Manager within the Microsoft Developer Division, announced on his blog that Microsoft will be releasing the source code for its .NET Framework libraries with the .NET 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008 release in late 2007.
This isn't open source as the Microsoft Reference License which will govern the code release is a "look but don't modify or distribute" license. Still, baby steps for Microsoft. Guthrie writes:
One of the things my team has been working to enable has been the ability for .NET developers to download and browse the source code of the .NET Framework libraries, and to easily enable debugging support in them.
Today I'm excited to announce that we'll be providing this with the .NET 3.5 and VS 2008 release later this year.… Read more
In a sign that the web world finally recognizes its debt to open source, Yahoo is opening up an advanced research and development center - with a massive computing lab - to allow developers and researchers to test their systems software. In other words, Yahoo is opening up one of its labs to let people experiment with Yahoo/Internet-scale applications.
This is very cool.
Sunnyvale-based Yahoo said the program is intended to leverage its leadership in Hadoop, an open source distributed computing sub-project of the Apache Software Foundation, to enable researchers to modify and evaluate the systems software running on a 4,000 processor supercomputer provided by Yahoo.… Read more
Martin Peacock sent me a link to this fascinating study of ant behavior in The International Herald Tribune. The article tracks the research of Iain Couzin on ants, locusts, and even humans and their instinct and ability to swarm.
While it doesn't call out open source specifically, I found the "follow-the-leader" behavior corresponds nicely to the forking of open-source projects. Despite the talk about the importance of the fork to open source, we actually rarely see it happen. Why? Probably because the group inertia is such a strong force:
Couzin and his colleagues have built a model of the flow of information through swarms. Each individual has to balance two instincts: to stay with the group and to move in a desired direction. The scientists found that just a few leaders can guide a swarm effectively. They do not even need to send any special signals to the animals around them. They create a bias in the swarm's movement that steers it in a particular direction....… Read more