Subject: Development process
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 19 Feb 2003 13:59:17 -0800

Robin 'Roblimo' Miller <robin@roblimo.com> writes:

> More seriously, and something that rightfully belongs in a separate
> message under a new topic... I don't think anyone has put any real
> thought into the idea of the development process itself as
> intellectual propery, possibly more valuable than the code it
> produces. This may be a key to making money with F/OSS that some are
> doing but have never fully articulated. This idea came up during a
> (f2f) conversation between me and Peter Gallagher, president of a
> small open source-based development company that specializes in
> federal government contract work. It's a concept that merits
> discussion.

Treating the development process as IP sort of implies the ability to
transfer the IP to somebody else.  How would you do that?

If you can't transfer the development process, then you're describing
a specialized consulting shop: one which has honed a development
process, and sells that.  In fact, that was a money maker for Cygnus:
adding support to the GNU toolchains for new processors.  However,
Cygnus was not able to transfer that ability to any other company
(it's not even clear that they transferred that ability to Red Hat,
the way things look now).

I suppose there is another sense in which you can treat the
development process as IP, which is the tools.  There are a set of
free software development tools which are widely used: emacs, gcc,
CVS, perl, etc.  We might put sourceforge in that list as well.  There
would probably be a small market in setting up the complete set of
tools for customers, and supporting them.  While different companies
have done different pieces of this, I'm not aware of anybody who did
the whole set.

Ian