[OSGeo-Discuss] Are there any thoughts on how organisations canwork with OSGeo projects?

Cameron Shorter cameron.shorter at gmail.com
Fri Sep 28 02:16:13 PDT 2007

Very insightful comments from the perspective of a purchaser/sponsor of 
Open Source. On our open source lists we often discuss how Sponsors can 
help developers, but we hear less about how developers can address the 
concerns of sponsors.

You have me running off to tweak LISAsoft's Open Source Business Plan. :)

Opportunity Management
Your point about project based funding is very valid. Funds are are 
allocated in small chunks for short terms which encourages people to get 
into an Open Source project, build something, then leave. Low cost of 
entry means developers join a project for a few months, then leave, 
taking their new found expertise with them.

I think we can partially address this issue by introducing *Opportunity 
Management* into Open Source Project Planning.

*Opportunity Management* is the flip of Risk Management, something with 
is common practice in most Project Plans and Bid documents.
Risk Management involves identifying what might go wrong, then putting a 
plan in place to mitigate the risk.
Opportunity Management involves identifying what might go RIGHT, then 
putting a plan in place to make sure it happens.
As developers, we say "if you put a minor invest in documentation, bug, 
fixes etc, you will increase the developer base and get lots of 
functionality in the future."
As managers, we say "the probability weighted Return On Investment is 
increased by investing in Open Source infrastructure".

OSGeo Package Suite
Customers want solutions to problems, and to interface with one seller, 
or project. As mentioned by others, this is where commercial 
organisations (like Lisasoft) can step in, providing one interface to 
multiple, sometimes disjointed projects.

However I think the ground is ripe for a meta-project which aggregates 
all the OSGeo projects into one. Ideally, a one click install for 
multiple OSGeo packages. I don't think it would take much to seed this 
project. In fact the interoperability labs happening in FOSS4G is the 
perfect starting point. How I see this happening is:

* A Howto is written which describes how to install an OSGeo baseline 
which includes a list of all dependent packages and their versions.
** This can be used to build OSGeo Workshops to be presented as conferences
** Projects maintain their own section of the documentation and set of 
dependancies as this will become the most powerful form of advertising 
for the project.

* Linux and Windows distributions
** These are built from the package version and dependancy list.
** This becomes part of the one click install

More thoughts I've had on Commercial Support are at:

Bruce.Bannerman at dpi.vic.gov.au wrote:
> <sorry for cross posting>
> I have been involved  in a number of discussions over the last year or 
> so where people representing organisations have expressed an interest 
> in extending Open Source spatial products and projects but are unsure 
> or sceptical as to how it could be done.
> I'm interested in other people's thoughts on this.
> Overview:
> Typically in Government and other larger organisations, funding is 
> Project based with a clear definition of business requirements, end 
> deliverables and time frame.
> What I have seen of OS projects over the last seven years or so is 
> that they are typically run by a group of committed individuals who 
> have a desire for a particular type of product. Focus is often on 
> delivering a quality product that is released 'when it is ready' 
> rather than to a marketing department's timeframe. While there is 
> often an end goal and a set of requirements for a release of a 
> product, it is sometimes difficult to find people interested in 
> spending their own time on the less exciting aspects of a project.
> For some context:
> #1 - I recently attended an workshop that contained representatives 
> from a significant number of government departments from around 
> Australia. There was a general consensus that we liked what we saw 
> with GeoNetwork as a potential 'National' Metadata entry tool and 
> Catalogue. There was also some discussion as to the types of features 
> that we'd like to see developed longer term to support an 'Australian' 
> metadata toolset. If this was to proceed we'd no doubt end up with a 
> program of works that we'd like to see implemented.
> #2 - I have also been involved on the periphery of the GeoSciML 
> efforts, part of which is a desire to use GeoServer to support 
> GeoSciML and 'complex' objects. The GeoSciML work involves a number of 
> Geological Survey organisations from around the world. This could also 
> result in a program of works that people would like to see included 
> into GeoServer.
> Some initial examples of issues that I can see (excluding funding) are:
> - Communication and liaison with the relevant open source community. 
> We may have a block of work that we'd like to see developed, however 
> this may potentially take a project in a direction that the community 
> does not want to go in. How do we address this?
> - A shortage of developers with the required skills in a particular 
> project. While we could put resources towards this problem, it will 
> take time for the developers to get an understanding of the products 
> and build the necessary credibility within the community. In the 
> meantime, we have the problem of getting some early wins to ensure 
> sufficient funding for the longer term.
> - Project based funding is typically focussed on a deliverable. The 
> deliverable may well be an enhancement to an OSGeo project. How can a 
> development team get that enhancement accepted into an OSGeo Project's 
> code base in a timely manner? Can they be confident that the 
> enhancement would not be removed at a later iteration of the OSGeo 
> Project?
> - Where is the best place to discuss issues relating to a program of 
> works that may span several OSGeo projects?
>   + If the discussions were to take place on individual projects' 
> development lists, then the overall 'Program' context may be lost. 
> Also other OSGeo project developers may not be interested in the 
> additional 'noise'.
>   + In the first example above where it relates to a National program 
> of works, it may be better to discuss these issues on the country's 
> local chapter mailing list. At least this would still be visible to 
> interested parties.
>   + In the second example where it relates to an international program 
> of works, perhaps a dedicated chapter could be established under OSGeo?
>   + what would be the best way to coordinate the aims of a program of 
> works and the aims of various OSGeo communities.
> I'm sure that others are thinking of these issues.
> They don't just relate to large programs of works, they also relate to 
> smaller projects.
> Perhaps you would like to share your thoughts.
> Bruce
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Cameron Shorter
Systems Architect, http://lisasoft.com.au
Tel: +61 (0)2 8570 5050
Mob: +61 (0)419 142 254

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