So, you want to open source that code…

January 9, 2007

Over the past few years, many companies have decided, for various reasons, to release programs into the wild world of open source. Some few have done it well, more have flopped.

So, in the interest of goodness, I’ve decided to drop my list of things to think about, and hopefully get some feedback on what other things should be included, ignored, expanded; you get the idea.

So, with litle ado.

Open Source Decision Criteria
1.0 Does Anyone Care?
1.1 Who cares internally
1.2 Who cares externally

2.0 What is the reason for open sourcing this?
2.1 Increase business
2.2 Drive new development
2.3 be a Good citizen

3.0 Who owns the project
3.1 Who is the gatekeeper
3.2 How are developments accepted and merged
3.3 Who will host this project

4.0 Open source isn’t free.
4.1 Is the company willing to pay the tab
4.1.1 Engineering?gatekeeper/Integration
4.1.2 Marketing/Promotion
4.1.3 Legal

5.0 What are the legal issues
5.1 Is the code IP clean (or acceptable)
5.2 Is the code dependent on other products
5.3 What license is being considered
5.3.1 is there a dual use license scheme available

6.0 What shape is the code in
6.1 Are you willing to have others review the code
6.2 What’s the current known buglist like
6.3 How long would it take an average programmer to get up to speed on the code
6.4 Is there any documentation

7.0 What’s unique to this program
7.1 What are the unique features
7.1.1 and again, who cares (and why)
7.2 What other projects are targeting/delivering this
7.2.1 Would you consider using one of them if your own project didn’t exist
7.2.2 Have you had discussions with any of them on merging

8.0 Does the product have commercial iinterest
8.1 Will you create competition
8.2 Is there a potential SAAS or services tie-in
8.3 Will you continue to offer the project directly as a commercial entity
8.3.1 Have you thought (again) about dual license
8.3.2 Do you plan to extend the capability outside of the open source arena

Taking a product/project from a closed world to an open one is never easy or trivial. If you can’t at the least answer the above, don’t bother going there.

Also, I suspect there are many things that should also be considered… let me know.


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