Subject: Re: Order entry application user group
From: Bernie Thompson <bernie@cosource.com>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 16:22:53 -0800

Brian Bartholomew wrote:
> > If it's under an open source license, all we need are mechanisms for
> > implementing shared work.
> 
> I think that hypothesis predicts that an acceptable open source order
> entry application (patent application scheduling app, MS Office clone,
> etc.) should already exist.

To implement large, end-user focused open source projects, you need two
things:
1) For the developers interested in the project, mechanisms for
implementing shared work (CVS/PRCS, Bugzilla, etc.) as Tim said.
2) For the end-users interested in the project, a convenient way to get
the project to do what you want, without having to contribute time.

The second one is where free software has struggled.  How do I
participate in and get a project to do what I need if I don't have time
or expertise to contribute?  What's the market mechanism (dollars <-->
product) for getting what I want cost effectively?

The obvious direct method is to pay a contractor or in-house staffer to
directly implement the features you need.  This is a good choice if it's
a critical piece of software and you're willing/able to pay the full
cost of development (and, of course, don't care about free riders).

But what if you're only willing/able to pay some fraction of the full
cost of development?  Then you're hitting the problem Tim is also trying
to solve.

This is the problem cooperative marketplaces are trying to solve.  They
gather multiple buyers, under a binding legal framework, to go in for
the development of a particular piece of open source.  Hopefully now
that they're beginning to get off the ground, we'll see an acceleration
of open source activity through increased involvement from
(corporate|individual) end users who've not been able to contribute.

We've had a few good signs about the willingness of a group to
cooperatively fund an Open Source project. The most recently completed
project on our site was an enhancement to Wine's Win32 networking code. 
We had 8 people put up a total of $720 to fund this work (50, 100, 350,
10, 30, 25, 50, 105).  All but the $10 commitment was paid (via credit
card to our site), and we wired the money to the developer (who happens
to be in Iceland).

And we're finally seeing some success on the corporate side, too.
Recently Lineo (the Caldera Embedded Linux spin-off) has put over $1000
towards an in-development project to enhance KDevelop.

We're focusing on small, modular, well defined pieces of code, so we can
keep a big group of people (all the buyers, the developer, and the
authority) on the same page as to what the expected end result must be. 
But possibly this system, through the building up of a large set of
underlying components, can be one way of helping the large projects (MS
Office clone, or Tim's order entry system) forward.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Bernie Thompson             bernie@cosource.com
Free Market. Free Software  http://www.cosource.com/