Who says open source isn't innovative? MIT just won an InfoWorld 100 award for Thalia, its enterprise "Flickr" application [PDF] used for managing images and media (e.g. print, web, lecture presentations, online exhibitions.) Thalia allows users to tag media with customizable, user-defined metadata (tags, discussion comments etc).
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. (Isaiah 28:9-11)
Anyone that has tried to ramrod open source into an organization will appreciate this counsel from Isaiah. As a market phenomenon, open source - be it Linux, Apache, MySQL, SugarCRM, MuleSource, or another project - almost always has begun on the fringes of IT. With Linux it was the edge-of-the-network server at first, until it eventually claimed the data center. With many commercial open-source projects, the first entree into an enterprise is at the departmental level (and even before that, with the individual developer's desktop).
Milk before meat. Here a little and there a little. Start small (as with my two youngest daughters to the right) and grow into greatness. Getting there depends on patience, as Marten Mickos and Larry Augustin have individually written:… Read more
If I didn't already have a religion, I might set up a new one to worship Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal's amazing midfielder. Humble and yet incredible on the pitch, Fabregas may well be the best player on the planet right now (though Kaka, Messi, and others might beg to differ).
Which makes Fabregas' comments in Sunday's Times so refreshing, and so applicable to open source. Responding to a question as to why he has scored so many goals this season compared with last he notes:
The transformation, if there?s been one, is explained in team terms. "It's true I feel more free to go forward and that's down to [Mathieu] Flamini. He doesn't stop running, chasing the opponent. He has amazing energy....… Read more
How do you make a popular piece of desktop software even better? You open source it so that your users can become your co-developers.
In the case of the excellent Quicksilver - a Mac OS X application that lets you easily launch applications and more - you release the source code under an Apache license and invite the desktop world (i.e., everybody) to collaborate on shaping the product in the community's image.
While this sort of community development doesn't always materialize in many open-source projects, I'm convinced that Quicksilver will be different because it's an application that many developers already use and love and who therefore have an interest (and, presumably, an aptitude) in modifying.
Here's what users can expect from the open-source release in the short term:… Read more
I don't mean to pat myself/my company on the back, but I wanted to share some data that indicates just how important it is to open up. In two years my company, Alfresco, has grown from 0 to 29,500 active deployments of our software (and tens of millions of end users). To put that in perspective, it took FileNet/IBM 25 years to get to the same number.
Not too shabby.
But it's not just about users. It's about speed of development. Jon Williams, CTO at Kaplan, the multi-billion dollar testing company, notes that it took Alfresco just three days to integrate with the (open) Facebook API and make a meaningful integration of the two. What he doesn't note is that it took Alfresco just six months to get to a code release that several billion-dollar enterprises thought worth buying.
Again, not too shabby. How did we get so many users? A great product and open distribution. How did we get that great product so fast? By building on exceptional open-source components like Hibernate, Spring, Lucene, and others. We're just one example among many open-source examples, too. Look no farther than MuleSource, Zimbra, SugarCRM, etc. to find others.… Read more
Sometimes we think that the reasons for Software as a Service and open-source success are mutually exclusive. According to David Heinemeier, founder and developer of the various 37Signals' projects and products, however, open source is integral to 37Signals' success.
In fact, it's fair to say by David's reasoning there's very little to recommend a proprietary software strategy anymore:
Open source provides an incredible amount of technical leverage for small companies. No matter how productive your rock-star programmers are and no matter how much judo you apply to your problems, solid infrastructure takes a long time and benefits immensely from broad involvement. It really does take a village to raise great infrastructure.… Read more
There is a persistent myth that open source operates like Linux, with a global team of developers holding hands and praying for world code peace. Most open-source projects don't work this way, looking much more like Eric Raymond's "cathedral" rather than the holy grail, the "bazaar," as Juergen of SnapLogic points out in an exceptionally insightful post on open-source software development.
The problem with many open-source projects is that while familiarity may not breed contempt, it can certainly breed institutional incompetence:Why do so many open-source projects not have the active community of external contributors they are hoping for? Because they have been largely developed by co-located teams of hired software engineers, 100% dedicated to the project, managed and organized like any traditional software development effort. This seems to be especially true for the new crop of 'custom build' open-source companies, which would like to take advantage of the open-source business model. They might hope to also enjoy the advantages of the open-source development model one day, but achieving that requires a conscious effort.… Read more
Some developers think that free and open-source software would go along its merry way without commercial interest. Not Linus Torvalds. In an interesting interview, he suggests that Linux would have been dead on arrival had it not been for commercial backing:Linux really wouldn't have gone anywhere interesting at all if it hadn't been released as an open source product. I also think that the change to the GPLv2 from my original "no money" license was important, because the commercial interests were actually very important from the beginning. The commercial distributions were what drove a lot of the nice installers and pushed people to improve usability. You need a balance between pure technology and the kinds of pressures you get from users through the market.
What we don't need, however, is the commercial interest of the kind Microsoft brings to the table:… Read more
There are so many good (and bad) things to say about Google's decision to open up the mobile market with an open-source mobile software platform that I'll just let others do the talking:
Sergey Brin (via OpenDotDot):As I look at it I reflect, ten years ago I was sitting at a graduate student cubicle. We were able to build incredible things. There was a set of tools that allowed us to do that. It was all open technologies. It was based on Linux, GNU, Apache. All those pieces and many more allowed us to do great things and distribute it to the world. That is what we are doing today, to allow people to innovate on today's mobile devices. Today's mobile devices are more powerful than those computers I was working on just ten years ago. I cannot wait to see what today's innovators will build.
And they will all build on open-source technologies, just as Google has. Why? Because reinventing the platform wheels, piece by piece, vendor by vendor, is inane and inefficient.
Web scripting languages like PHP are hot, but it's Java and .Net that pay the bills, according to a new survey by Robert Half Technology's 2008 Salary Guide:
Next year, application developers and senior web developers skilled in Java, Java Enterprise Edition and Microsoft's C# and VisualBasic.NET look likely to have more leverage in salary negotiations and pull in more cash than those armed with Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/PHP/Python (LAMP) or AJAX, according to a new salary survey.
IT employment specialist Robert Half Technology's 2008 Salary Guide found application and senior web … Read more