PORTABLE Producing Open Source Software by Karl Fogel phone wiki free eReader book

PORTABLE Producing Open Source Software by Karl Fogel phone wiki free eReader book

PORTABLE Producing Open Source Software by Karl Fogel phone wiki free eReader book

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Book description

Book description
We tend not to hear very much about the failures. Only successful projects attract attention, and thereare so many free software projects in total1 that even though only a small percentage succeed, the resultis still a lot of visible projects. We also dont hear about the failures because failure is not an event.There is no single moment when a project ceases to be viable; people just sort of drift away and stopworking on it. There may be a moment when a final change is made to the project, but those who madeit usually didnt know at the time that it was the last one. There is not even a clear definition of when aproject is expired. Is it when it hasnt been actively worked on for six months? When its user base stopsgrowing, without having exceeded the developer base? What if the developers of one project abandon itbecause they realized they were duplicating the work of another—and what if they join that otherproject, then expand it to include much of their earlier effort? Did the first project end, or just changehomes?Because of such complexities, its impossible to put a precise number on the failure rate. But anecdotalevidence from over a decade in open source, some casting around on SourceForge.net, and a littleGoogling all point to the same conclusion: the rate is extremely high, probably on the order of 90–95%.The number climbs higher if you include surviving but dysfunctional projects: those which are producingrunning code, but which are not pleasant places to be, or are not making progress as quickly or asdependably as they could.This book is about avoiding failure. It examines not only how to do things right, but how to do themwrong, so you can recognize and correct problems early. My hope is that after reading it, you will have arepertory of techniques not just for avoiding common pitfalls of open source development, but also fordealing with the growth and maintenance of a successful project. Success is not a zero-sum game, andthis book is not about winning or getting ahead of the competition. Indeed, an important part of runningan open source project is working smoothly with other, related projects. In the long run, every successfulproject contributes to the well-being of the overall, worldwide body of free software.It would be tempting to say that free software projects fail for the same sorts of reasons proprietary softwareprojects do. Certainly, free software has no monopoly on unrealistic requirements, vague specifications,poor resource management, insufficient design phases, or any of the other hobgoblins already wellknown to the software industry. There is a huge body of writing on these topics, and I will try not to duplicateit in this book. Instead, I will attempt to describe the problems peculiar to free software. When afree software project runs aground, it is often because the developers (or the managers) did not appreciatethe unique problems of open source software development, even though they might have been quiteprepared for the better-known difficulties of closed-source development.One of the most common mistakes is unrealistic expectations about the benefits of open source itself. Anopen license does not guarantee that hordes of active developers will suddenly volunteer their time toyour project, nor does open-sourcing a troubled project automatically cure its ills. In fact, quite the opposite:opening up a project can add whole new sets of complexities, and cost more in the short termthan simply keeping it in-house.
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