The keynotes this afternoon were on the subject of Open Data and Structured Data. The presenters made strong, persuasive arguments about the importance of these elements to the applications that we would like to develop for the web.
There were some good examples: OpenStreetMap
I attended a talk by Lars Thalmann about his personal experience in working for a closed source company which shifted to be an open source company. I was interested in attending this talk as there were obvious parallels with the situation for Sun and Solaris and the shift to OpenSolaris.
MySQL is a company of about 350 people, with contributors based in 25 countries. Lars explained that his company had originated as a research project based in Ericsson in the 1990's. At that time the goal was to develop a cluser database which could be used internally by Ericsson. This was then identified as a potential spin-off company and eventually became Alzato, which was a private company owned by Ericsson. Alzato sold the cluster database to external customers as well as supporting internal users. Alzato was purchaed by MySQL and the software, known as NDB, was integrated into the MySQL database server product family.
I asked Lars a few questions about external contributors as this was the area I was most curious to find out about. He told me that apart from the area of storage engine contributions, most contributions are at the level of bugfixes. More significant contributions have been made by former MySQL employees who have left the company and one major contribution was made by a developer who is now employed by MySQL. Many of the processes and procedures which Lars adopted on joining MySQL are exactly the same as those processes and procedures which we are using for the OpenSolaris project. For example: developers must sign release forms to contribute code, certain bug data is still held privately by MySQL AB and not shared with the wider development community.
Usability is an important part of the development of OSS. I can't honestly say I paid too much attention to this talk as I was just too tired and was busy writing up the MySQL session and thinking about other things.
How to build an open source project. This should be interesting, especially since it's based around the openoffice.org project. Presented by a CollabNet employee.
OpenSolaris got a mention as an example of a sponsored project.
The list of things which Open Source projects should be was informative and, in my opinion, accurate. Right licence, Neutral environment, Transparent governance and processes, etc... See the slides for the full list. Interestingly a member of the audience said that he had practically the same list of characteristics when he talked about the Debian project back in 2002.
The OpenOffice.org project documentation
is supposed to be good.