It’s Not Easy To Start an Open Source Project

Is there an Open Source Collaboration for Dummies guide? Thinking it would not be so difficult, I made an amateur attempt to start a collaborative open source project for independent high schools last year. I was happy with that which I had authored for UHS, but I wanted to make a better product through collaboration with other like-minded school technology developers. I hosted an open source workshop for interested school technology staff and shared the source code for two projects: community service learning database and student schedule display tool (reads from Blackbaud).

It must require a lot more effort and know-how to start an open source project, for this one never got going. High school tech staff do not have a lot of time to program, so our projects tend to serve our immediate needs. Quite likely, the immediate needs of my school do not perfectly match those of other schools. Also, attempting to start a project within a limited geographic area does not exactly match the strengths of the Internet, where I need to find more like-minded technology directors to get the ball rolling on such collaboration. Finally, I wonder whether my projects are too small in scope, compared to popular open source projects for secondary schools such as Centre and SchoolTool. Larger projects could attract more support.

I am still willing to share and co-develop a suite of co-curricular program administration tools and Blackbaud tie-ins. Let me know if you are interested in joining me.

2 comments

  1. Tom Hoffman says:

    Hi Richard,

    As project manager for SchoolTool, I can confirm that getting this kind of project going is HARD. Everyone who has ever written any serious code for SchoolTool, with the exception of our release manager Brian Sutherland, has been paid by the Shuttleworth Foundation for their time. We’ve severly limited our pool of developers by using Zope 3 as our framework, which is not widely known (yet), but this is a bet we think will pay off in the long run. Centre is open source, but there doesn’t appear to be any significant developer community outside of the MIller Group. I guess some other companies are developing components, but there isn’t public CVS and an active mailing list for developers, two things one would expect from an active open source project.

    Anyhow, good to find your blog.

  2. rkassissieh says:

    Tom,

    Thank you for your comment, It is interesting to find out that the developer communities for these two open-source projects are so limited. As you can tell, my main objective in writing scripts is to support my school’s operations, so an open source project would (at least initially) only serve as an extension of that work. However, I was surprised at the lack of energy for the projects after the initial enthusiasm (when it was only a concept).

    Good luck with SchoolTool. I very much look forward to the continued development and expansion of the program’s features.

    Best,

    Richard