How To Build A Successful Open Source Community - InformationWeek

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6/19/2014
09:05 AM
Michael Williams
Michael Williams
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How To Build A Successful Open Source Community

Building an active community requires thoughtful planning, patience, support, and constant evangelism. Even then, any of several well-known errors can prevent a community from developing.

There are many useful open source technologies out there. With all of this competition, it's critical to make it clear why your particular open source offering should be considered, and for which needs. That's the reality any builder of an open source community needs to adopt right from the start: While participation by developers in an active, viable open source community will undoubtedly improve their projects, as well as your product's evolution, getting a community up and running can be a challenge.

At Actuate, we've managed to establish value for developers in our open source BIRT community, and in our commercial products built on BIRT. Today, our community is 3.5-million BIRT developers strong. So here are our thoughts on how to build your own.

What is the right way to start this process?
First, from a business model standpoint, the kind of license you select for your open source project is a big factor. There are different types of open source licenses -- some are very permissive and some are very restrictive, and developers pay a lot of attention to this aspect now. There is also a lot of knowledge out there on what each license exposes you to. See, for example:

http://choosealicense.com/licenses/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_free_and_open-source_software_licenses

http://blog.codinghorror.com/pick-a-license-any-license/

Second, simply because it is an open source project doesn't mean that you can expect developers to simply flock to it.

Read the rest of this story on Dr. Dobb's.

Michael Williams is a committer on the BIRT Project and also BIRT Product Evangelist and Forums Manager for reporting and business analytics software specialist Actuate Corp., which sponsors open-source BIRT and offers commercial BIRT-based software to a community of more ... View Full Bio

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