Hobu just posted an insightful article on what makes open source projects healthy, with a good amount of introspection around several large open geospatial projects and the open source geospatial community. Since he doesn’t allow comments, I’ll just have to write another article… :)
Howard’s analysis of how OSGeo can be the catalyst that pushes member projects to new levels of function is spot-on. I really hope that we (all of us) can work to ensure that his challenge is upheld. This will require considerable levels of community involvement. I know that there is a lot of cool stuff to do, but many OSGeo committees are really struggling with the size of the task at hand and could really use more help.
Speaking of cool stuff… the MapGuide Open Source PSC had our first meeting today. Most of it dealt with the kind of critical process definition work that needs to be done in a healthy open source project. Reflecting back on that meeting — apart from realizing how much of a disruptive effect I have on meetings, sorry all — I can see how hard it is going to be for the Autodesk folks on the committee to adjust to open source, but I can also see how hard they are trying. It will be difficult for us to meet all of Howard’s criteria for a health project, especially since there’s only one person on the committee that has extensive open source development experience, but we’re going to give it our best shot.
This brings up another point. I’d like to say that it’s great to have our open source angel in the background, guiding us towards health. Thanks Daniel M. His presense as a mentor is a huge benefit to the MapGuide project that would not have been realized without OSGeo and the incubation process. I remember initially that quite a few folks (myself included) didn’t feel that MapGuide and some of the other initial projects should have to incubate. I am now extremely glad that OSGeo has forced this; it really helps projects move towards the goals that Hobu has clarified.