Open Source Magazine (April 2014) [IN]


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Medsphere was founded by the Drs. Shreeve Scott and Steve.

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The suit listed twelve counts including violations of RICO , which if found true could have left the Shreeves penniless. An interview with Fred Trotter gives a good summary of the situation. Cool bus or not, I find it hard to believe that Medsphere is the example we in open source should be striving to emulate.

Yet, its corresponding opportunities far outweigh the hurdles that must be overcome to realize its full potential. More information about text formats. Skip to main content. Search form Search. Close AD. By Kent R. Presidents Commentary. Share Your Thoughts: Your name.

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Contact Us Editorial Customer Service In an amazing about-face, some of the most well-known companies that fought open source tooth and nail only fifteen years ago have come around and are now among its biggest supporters. The business model section of this article explains some of this. The next innovation open source has brought us is engineering process innovation [3].

The open source initiative has this to say about open source software development:.

The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in. This is the other definition of open source, not focused on licenses and intellectual property, but on collaborative development. There is no single open source software engineering process, rather each open source community defines its own.

The first to have explored at scale a truly collaborative open source process was Linus Torvalds in the development of the Linux kernel. His approach has no particular name, but is often identified with his moniker, BDFL benevolent dictator for life , implying a hierarchical structure.

A similar but different approach may be more popular today: The collaborative peer group, as explored by the original team of the Apache web server httpd and codified as The Apache Way of open source software development [5]. The software industry owes this group of developers as much as it owes Torvalds, if not more so.

An important aspect is the distinction between contributors, who submit work for inclusion in an open source project, and committers, who review and integrate the work. Committers are called maintainers in a Linux context, and they also usually are developers, not just reviewers. Using this contributor-committer interplay, nearly all open source projects practice pre-commit code review to ensure the quality of the software under development. I like to summarize the principles of open source software development as the three principles of open collaboration [6]: In open collaboration, participation is egalitarian nobody is a priori excluded , decision-making is meritocratic decisions are based on the merits of arguments rather than status in a corporate hierarchy , and people are self-organizing people choose projects, processes, and tasks rather than get assigned to them.

The Innovations of Open Source

Similarly, open source projects practice open communication. Such open collaborative processes, not dominated by any single entity, lead to community open source software: Software that is collectively owned, managed, and developed by a diverse set of stakeholders. These collaboration processes are not limited to software but rather spill over into adjacent areas. For example, these processes have brought forward many formal and de-facto standards that the software industry relies on [3].

The methods of open source software development have also taken roots inside companies, where they are called inner source [7] [8]. Most tools used in open source software development are familiar to closed source programmers as well. That said, the needs of open source processes have led to two major tool innovations that have since become an important part of corporate software development as well:. A software forge is a website that allows the creation of new projects and provides developers with all the tools needed for software development: A homepage, an issue tracker, version control, etc.

What makes software forges special is that they facilitate the matchmaking between those who are looking to find a useful software component and those who are offering one.


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  • Software forges are an enterprise software product category, because even within one company do you want one place where to find all software being developed. Distributed version control is version control where you copy the original repository and work with your copy. Git and Mercurial are the two best known examples of such software.

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    Some may argue that distributed version control is not an open source innovation, because of some of its roots in proprietary software. However, the open source community developed and refined its own solutions, which work well with the way how open source software is being developed, and thereby popularized the concept.


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    • Comparing distributed version control with branching misses the point. Having your own repository lets a developer work using their own style, free of any centralized decisions on how to use branches. Distributed version control was further helped by being the main version control software underlying a new generation of software forges, most notably Github and Gitlab.

      As such, companies are adopting both forges and distributed version control at a rapid pace. Laying the legal foundation for open collaboration between individuals and companies, defining more effective collaboration processes with higher productivity than closed-source approaches, and inventing the tools to support it was just the beginning: Open source is changing the software industry by way of how it makes new and breaks old business models.

      Open Source For You November 2014
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      Open Source Magazine (April 2014) [IN] Open Source Magazine (April 2014) [IN]
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