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:
- Public source viewing
- Common license
- Public source code checkins
- Public bugs
- Public forums
- Anyone can contribute
- Public, complete and modifiable documentation"
How does Openbravo measures against Adam's seven habits?
The results of these efforts are a community that is lively, growing and productive.
- Openbravo offers public source viewing at http://code.openbravo.com
- Openbravo adopts a common license with the Openbravo Public License being a common variation of the popular Mozilla Public License
- 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.
- Openbravo offer a public issue tracker at http://issues.openbravo.com where any community member can view or report issues
- Openbravo hosts and moderates public forums on the Openbravo Forge mirrored on SourceForge.
- Openbravo accepts open contribution through a documented process either in the form of extension modules, core contributions or in many other ways.
- Openbravo maintains a public, complete and modifiable documentation available in the wiki.
But it does not stop there:
- Openbravo offers a public road map.
- Openbravo engages with its community on the direction of the product.
- Openbravo offers full visibility of the progress of its development process.
- Openbravo engages with its community in the design of upcoming features.
- Openbravo supports its community not only through forums but also through the #openbravo IRC channel on freenode.net.
- Openbravo engages with its community of developers through the openbravo-developer mailing list.
- Openbravo educates its community on its latest version with frequent public webinars.
- Openbravo hosts monthly open community meetings (see the log of the May session as an example).
- Openbravo goes beyond public source checkins and offers public visibility of the testing of those checkins and how they get integrated into the product through our continuous integration infrastructure.
- Openbravo engages its community of users through a collaborative QA process supported by an open test case repository.
- Openbravo offers a public collaboration space with the Openbravo Forge.
- Openbravo hosts and moderates a wiki that contains more than 3,000 articles, with 1,300 monthly edits, and servers around 35,000 unique monthly visitors.
- 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.
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)
- 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.