Engaging Developers with Open Source Projects Workshop

by Amir Nettler on 24 August 2008


9 October 2009, 09:30 - 16:00Oxford University Computing Services, 13 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6NN

This event is now over; please see below for the original description and programme, and links to the speakers’ presentations.

The archived live blog from this event may be seen here. To see material tagged as relevant to the workshop, search for #deveng09. The original list of suggested reading is here.

Why should software developers who create local customisations of open source software take the further step of submitting their changes back to the main project? Where do people who make contributions fit into an existing open source project, and why do projects want them?

While it takes more effort initially, having local changes integrated in a project becomes efficient in the long run: local modifications need not be re-applied at every upgrade, and the project takes over their maintenance. Also, by building up a record of useful contributions, one can gain influence in shaping the project’s future. From the project’s point of view, they not only gain by the improvements people submit, but become more sustainable by building up a larger group of people prepared to work on the project.

Not contributing back can cause real problems. For example, some institutions which have customised their Virtual Learning Environments - but not submitted their changes back to the project - have run into trouble when they upgraded to a new version which clashed with their customisations. Such problems could have been avoided had they been able to integrate their local changes with the code base of the main project.

This OSS Watch workshop will present this argument in greater detail, explaining how developers engaged in customisations of open source software should make their contributions to a project. Speakers will present the issue from both sides of the process: that of the open source projects that look to encourage contributions, and that of external developers who might want to make them.

The event is free, and open to all.


Attendees are invited afterwards to an informal gathering at a pub with members of OSS Watch.