Bithika Khargharia offers tips for encouraging the success of your open source project.
While ONF has been an active supporter of open source since we were founded, we’ve increased our focus on open source software development this past year with the launch of OpenSourceSDN.org. We now have more than a dozen projects in the works, and it’s been a great learning process for everyone involved.
At the risk of sounding pessimistic, the reality is that in spite of tremendous passion, dedication, and effort from contributors, the majority of open source projects fail. If you are considering starting an open source project, what can you do to ensure success? Here are a set of tried and true best practices and guidelines that you can embrace for the success of your open source software development.
1. Build a community.
Open source projects are best accomplished when they’re created in a collaborative environment by an enthusiastic community that not only works toward their development, but also uses the solutions themselves. If you’re considering starting an open source project, make it a team effort by bringing together a community of contributors to engage in the process from day one. Oftentimes this team goes on to form the core set of contributors for the project as the community slowly builds around it.
2. Identify pain points.
In developing an open source “solution,” we imply that there is a problem that must be addressed. Without identifying the pain points that we plan to resolve with our work, it is challenging to maintain the project’s focus and to market it successfully. Before embarking on open source software development, work with your community to take note of the problems your solution will solve, and make addressing them your goal.
3. Establish (and follow) a plan.
Few efforts of any kind, open source software or otherwise, are successful without a plan supporting them; it is far too easy to lose focus, especially when multiple contributors are involved. Once you’ve established a community for your open source project and identified the pain points that it will address, create and execute a plan that will help guide everyone toward the goal. Be sure to have well-defined success metrics to periodically measure the success of the project. Highlight community contributions and celebrate achievements.
There is a theme that ties these three tips together: communication. Ultimately, in order for an open source project to be successful, open and productive communication must be encouraged. Do you have any tips to add to this list? Feel free to share them in the comments below.
- Bithika Khargharia, Director of Product and Community Management