Forum OpenACS Q&A: Re: Re: Reuse in the large is an unsolved problem !?

Posted by Simon at TCB on
There's an awful lot of wisdom in what Caroline is saying. Just a few additional comments of my own.

The conventional wisdom is that open source communities are communities of individual hackers and you have to be very careful if you are an organization approaching them to use their code to make money.

I've always assumed that the OpenACS community wasn't resistant to commercial activity. After all it started as a commercial, single-company enterprise. I hope thats still true?

What might be an idea is some discussion on how we can make the toolkit more 'commerce-friendly'. I was tempted to raise the 'Is the GPL the right license issue' but perhaps thats too emotive. :) There are other things though that include marketing, organisation, presence and so forth. One criticism of OpenACS is that its a high barrier to entry for new developers/volunteers. Is this such a bad thing? No enterprise I work with has that high issue on its list. Thats what they employ us for! What they want to know is

  • Will it do X million per day?
  • Can it handle user management?
  • Does it have a serious database?
  • Is it easy to integrate into a hetrogenous network?
  • Can it do Busines Services (B2B, Document exchange)?

    And so on

    I am putting out for thought and discussion the concept that we are a community of organizations and that the new users we wanted to attract are more organizations.

    I wouldn't want to be seen to exclude the non-organisation element, but I think as a software project the simple fact is it has far more appeal/potential for organisations than individuals.

    > Look organization friendly. I think we already are an organization friendly open source community. Its an advantage. Lets flaunt it.

    Amen to that!

    Look Different. We need to stand out for something other then tcl and AOLServer. We should be looking for ways we really are different in a way that is positive for our target new users and do PR around it.

    This is key for me. As I mentioned before the fact is has a good webserver or a good scripting language is somewhat by-the-by. The fact that it is an Enterprise Architecture suitable for deploying large scale SOAs, Agile development and high performance XML based B2B services is far more salient.

    Perhaps the key word here (and perhaps it has always been) is architecture. I think we need to focus on this aspect of the community. Modern enterprise development is about agility, time to market, extensibility, standards etc... its a perfect fit.

    If enterprises are not giant collaborative communities then I don't know what is :)

    We have companies who want to give back but are not doing so. And more than that, commercial companies are exposed to much larger scope in terms of software projects. If the toolkit wants to make *big* strides forward it simply must have good commercial backing, both for breadth and depth. It covers far too much ground, and is far to 'industrial' to be progressed by volunteers alone. I think this is why the community seems quiet, volunteers are obviously going to be less interested in developing distributed, xml based, tuple-server support than they are putting pictures on forum postings. The former kind of work is best done under the context of commercial delivery.

    Something that needs clearing up and putting firmly at the forefront of the OpenACS pitch is that it is suitable for combined OS and proprietary usage. i.e. through the package mechansim. It should be clearly stated that this 'architecture' is there to provide a basis for commercial software development. Companies should be comfortable developing commercial propositions designed to run on the architecture.

    This isn't such an issue in the enterprise world because problems often require custom solutions and therefore the OS, service-based model is fine. With a little better 'positioning', this area could explode for OpenACS.

    However innovation drives good software. Companies should feel able to get ROI on what they develop to encourage new venture. Successful companies with healthy revenue streams will have both a vested interest, and the financial capacity to contribute more.

    Why not become a leader again? Perhaps as a web-dev community we are not. But as an affiliation of organisations we could be.