Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Consona acquires Compiere – What about the Community?

Source:planet.openbravo.com
by Paolo Juvara

Last Wednesday the open source ERP community woke up with the news of the Consona acquisition of Compiere, one of the pioneers in open source ERP. The text of the announcement can be found here.

Since the announcement, many observers and commentators started a debate on whether this is a victory for open source or the sad demise of one the pioneers of the open source ERP category. Many also speculated on what might be in the store for the product, with most people interpreting the transaction primarily as a technology acquisition.
A recurring theme among commentators is that Compiere failed to embrace its community.

With such a symbolic event fresh in our mind, it is time to reflect on how Openbravo facilitates the development of its own community.


Last year I had commented on Adam Blum's post on The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Open Source Products. An effective open source product must display "a credible community with a credible effort to involve the community in the development of the product, as described in Adam's seven habits:
  1. Public source viewing
  2. Common license
  3. Public source code checkins
  4. Public bugs
  5. Public forums
  6. Anyone can contribute
  7. Public, complete and modifiable documentation"
How does Openbravo measures against Adam's seven habits?
  1. Openbravo offers public source viewing at http://code.openbravo.com
  2. Openbravo adopts a common license with the Openbravo Public License being a common variation of the popular Mozilla Public License
  3. Openbravo offers public source code checkins available either at http://code.openbravo.com, through the openbravo-commit mailing list, or on the #openbravo IRC channel on freenode.net.
  4. Openbravo offer a public issue tracker at http://issues.openbravo.com where any community member can view or report issues
  5. Openbravo hosts and moderates public forums on the Openbravo Forge mirrored on SourceForge.
  6. Openbravo accepts open contribution through a documented process either in the form of extension modules, core contributions or in many other ways.
  7. Openbravo maintains a public, complete and modifiable documentation available in the wiki.
But it does not stop there:
Last but not least:
  • Openbravo has formalized its commitment to its community through the Openbravo Manifesto.
  • Openbravo has adopted a business model that does not divorce its Community Edition users from its Professional Edition solutions but embraces the usage of the Community Edition. There is an easy and smooth transition path for those community users that are ready to enjoy the increased benefits of the Professional Edition. Similarly there is freedom of choice for developers and service providers to distribute their development either as open source or with a commercial license.
Openbravo invests a significant amount of resources to provide the infrastructure, the leadership and the coordination around the community. This is part of our DNA and consistent with one of our core beliefs that openness is a requirement to build successful products, and that leveraging the domain expertise of a global community is the only way to build a product that fits the needs of all SMEs.
The results of these efforts are a community that is lively, growing and productive.

Looking at the public SourceForge statistics - which are public and independent -, for the period of May 2010:
  • Activity ranking: 2
  • Forum post: 655 (and this does not include any of the hundreds of discussions in the Openbravo Forge other than the core ones)
  • Downloads: 23,845 (and this does not include the 2,480 downloads from the Ubuntu repository nor any of the thousands of downloads of extension modules from our own Central Repository)
If we consider other data, we can observe that:
  • The Openbravo community is large and growing, with 10,426 registered members at the end of May and increasing at a pace of over 300 new members per month.
  • The Openbravo community is engaged giving us feedback on the product, with anywhere between 20 and 30% of the defect and new feature requests reported in any given month coming from the open community.
  • The Openbravo community is productive, with 361 public projects registered in the Openbravo Forge at the end of May and managed by our community.
  • The Openbravo community is effective, having produced as of the end of May 161 modules distributed through the Central Repository to the entire ecosystem of users.
The Openbravo community is still young and we still have a way to go before we can consider it fully mature. However, if you are looking for an open source ERP community that is welcoming, lively, engaging, productive and that does not create ideological or practical barriers between open source and commercial usage of the product, you should give Openbravo a try.