Thursday, May 13, 2004

Open-source development models fall flat - Computerworld

An interesting article was posted yesterday on Computerworld dealing with the open source development model being applied to corporate settings.

The title itself is quite misleading, IMHO, as although it suggests that open source is not for business, it contradicts itself later on in the article. The difference is if the product is highly techinical in nature, not if project managers determine requirements. Something like Apache works because it is extremely techinical, not because project managers are not involved. Even if you look at something like Apache, NetBeans or Eclipse, there is someone, or some group that plays a project manager role. However, their role is more to set vision and push the developers in that direction, rather than develop requirements.

Can the open source model work in a commercial environment with specific customers. No, with one exception. That customer has an extemely open mind....such customers are very rare.

I also look at this a different way, as applies to my current work situation. I recently developed a set of JUnit extensions to use for testing the product we develop for our customers. I declared that this product was open source. In that sence, I expect people to determine what types of things they would like, and feel like they have the freedom to take and play with extending the toolset, without politics getting involved.

Too often, I've worked in groups where people are afraid to have someone take their work and make it work better. Too often I've worked in groups where people won't touch someone else's work because they don't want to piss them off. And they'll start bitching about how the product sucks, and eventually, no one will use the tool. We'll see if this little experiment works. As stated in the article, the users of this tool are the it should have some hope.

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