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Life of a Wookie


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Presentation at OSS Watch event in Oxford about community engagement in Open Source from the perspective of the Wookie project

Presentation at OSS Watch event in Oxford about community engagement in Open Source from the perspective of the Wookie project

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  • 1. OSS Watch, Oxford 9 Oct 2009 Life of a Wookie Scott Wilson (University of Bolton) Scott. bradley [email_address] Twitter: scottbw
  • 2. Open Source & Community
    • What I’ll talk about:
      • What Wookie is…
      • Why community matters to our work
      • How we support community
      • What the barriers are, and how we overcome them
      • What problems we’ve faced, and how we tackled them.
  • 3. Why community matters to an OSS project
  • 4.  
  • 5. Open source communities…
    • No community: dead code
    • Geek High Priesthood: open source, closed community
    • Lots of Developers, No users: unfriendly geek tool shed
    • Lots of Users, No developers: abandonware
    • User and Developers: Yay!
  • 6. Apache Wookie (incubating)
    • Entered incubator July ‘09
    • originally developed in Framework 6 IP
      • Funded projects tend to build prototypes, not communities
    • W3C Widget Engine
      • W3C Packaging and Configuration
      • W3C Widget Object
      • Google Wave Gadget API
  • 7. Why the foundation route?
    • Mechanisms to support community
    • Clear processes and governance, already trusted by developers
    • Clear licensing and legal framework, removing barriers to adoption
    • These are all things a viable OSS project needs - but are hard to set up and run alone
  • 8. Community in Wookie
  • 9. This is how I see our community - and one of my tasks is to make sure there is a steady supply of people moving through these stages
  • 10.  
  • 11. To be viable, Wookie needs more variety here
  • 12.  
  • 13.  
  • 14.  
  • 15. Developers aren’t lawyers
    • But you wouldn’t know it sometimes…
  • 16. overcoming the barriers
    • From the OSS project:
      • Documenting and explaining processes
      • Actively reaching out to developers to help them over the barrier
    • From the external team:
      • Understanding tracker-based workflows
      • Understanding distributed development
    • It can be surprising how many developers (still) don’t have issue tracker and source control experience
  • 17. Being nice is a survival strategy in OSS
  • 18. Cases
    • LAMS: integration
    • HUT: bugfix
    • UPD/EPFL/TG: feature spec
  • 19. Problems we’ve faced
    • Developers reluctant to tackle IP & licensing issues why do I need to sign this? Can I be bovvered?
    • Developers inexperienced with issue trackers
    • Developers not understanding workflows do I submit the patch or create an issue first?
    • Managers worried about what their developers may be getting them into what’s our exposure? What are we committing ourselves to? What if I need you for xyz…
  • 20. How are we doing?
    • Even with active support, you don’t get everyone over the barriers (even in our own organisation)
    • A long way to go yet…
    • A good range of developers engaged, slowly moving up the ladder
    • A lot of new project proposals (FP7, JISC…) want to use Wookie, so more developers likely coming into the picture
  • 21. Why its worth it:
    • External contributions help fix bugs, add features, identify user requirements
    • More people tends to bring more diversity of markets where the software can be applied
    • Contributing to open source projects helps developers gain important professional skills
    • Working with open source projects provides opportunities for new partnership
  • 22. Get involved!
    • Send subscribe message to [email_address]
    • Submit issue reports, feature requests, patches:
    • Come to Apache/CETIS Widgets Meetup, London , 13th October