Friday, September 19, 2014

Facebook's TODO Project brings serious momentum to open source
TODO Project

When a company as large and dominant as Facebook stands up for something, people take notice. When Google, Dropbox, Twitter, Github, and Walmart Labs join in on the stand... things get serious.
That's exactly what's happening with the new TODO Project (Talk Openly, Develop Openly). This consists of a group of power players who are coming together to help improve how open-source projects are managed and organized. Why is this necessary? Because open source turned a major corner when large companies started depending on projects like MySQL, Apache, PHP, and Linux. Once the big players in the enterprise had a need for open source, and they started examining the whole of how open source works, it became clear there was room for improvement:
  • how open source is developed
  • how open-source projects are started
  • how open-source projects are managed
The plan is to step in and help the open-source community to develop best practices that will, in the end, benefit all.
Sure, we can see through the veneer and understand this project has but one overriding goal in mind -- help make the business of business better. In the process, however, this project will go a very long way to help make open source better.
The TODO Project is primarily a forum for companies who are passionate about contributing to open-source software. This is not an open-source developers' group. If you step back a bit, you can see that this is exactly what open source needs at exactly the right moment.
Open source, for a very long time, has struggled to gain any momentum in enterprise business. Over the last few years, that has changed. When the likes of Facebook, Amazon, and Google took it upon themselves to champion the use of open-source tools, all bets were off. Even still, open source struggled to be taken seriously as a whole... especially in the small- to mid-sized arena. With the advent of TODO, open source will not only enjoy a newfound sense of credibility, but it will also benefit from the wisdom handed down by major players in the world of business.
This is something open source very much needs.
Why do I say that when open source is really coming into its own? The open-source tools used in the enterprise have reached a certain level of business acumen. They get it... and they know how to navigate the deeper, swifter waters. The vast majority of open-source projects have not benefited from this relationship -- but the TODO project could change that.
While the TODO Project will probably focus the majority of its might on self-serving needs (such as LAMP), this knowledge will trickle down to the smaller projects. How? TODO will help to organize and manage open-source projects and, by the very nature of open source, that knowledge will be handed down to the smaller pieces of the puzzle. Imagine the likes of LibreOffice, The Gimp, Ubuntu, Mint, Peach OSI, Calibre, Audacity, and more gaining the knowledge and tools handed down by the TODO Project.
It doesn't end there. This new project doesn't aim to only focus on helping open-source projects better their software. TODO has another set of goals:
  • Make it easier for companies to embrace and employ open-source software
  • Help kick off new open-source projects
Yes, TODO is very much in its infancy, and it's not perfectly clear how the benefits of the organization will affect the open-source community from top to bottom. What is clear, however, is that open source now has an ally with the power of billions of users behind it... one that clearly intends on improving the whole of open source and driving it forward with serious momentum. If handled properly, with information and tools made available to all open-source projects, this could be that which propels open source into the limelight.
Companies that are looking to help guide and promote open source can join TODO. Remember, this group is in its infancy, so there's a lot of baby steps to get through before the real benefits become clear.