Cultivating Open Source



This talk should give you ideas, strategy and courage to go build your own Open Source community and promote your projects.


Building an Open Source community is an art, but when it’s done correctly it can become a very powerful force. Most of the best practices for building a community are pretty obvious, but it never hurts to think a little more about what works.


  • Chandler / Cosmo
  • Windmill / Mozmill
  • Fleegix
  • Hudson

Start That Project

  • Scratch the itch
  • Keep the goals reasonable
  • Document and comment like it’ll be front page NY Times
  • Use tools that can easily translate to a community
    – Source code repository
    – Wiki / Homepage
    – Email List / IRC
  • Don’t be embarrassed, get it out there!

Building Community

  • Don’t get discouraged
  • Continually iterate and improve
    – Docs, Tests, Code, Communication
  • Evangelize!
    – Twitter, Conferences, User Groups, Blog
  • Collaborate with other OSS Projects
  • Quickly respond to early adopters
  • Respond even faster to new contributors
  • Listen to user feedback and act
  • Carefully review patches to ensure quality, and/or LEARN something!
  • Know about similar projects, and the people building them (get a beer with said people)
  • Contribute back to projects you use, be vocal
  • Set milestones (and actually attempt to hit them)

Sustaining Community

  • Continually iterate and improve
    – Docs, Tests, Code, Communication
  • Keep evangelizing, ALWAYS (btw you should check out Windmill)
  • Don’t be afraid to solve the hard problems
  • Be proactive, lead the community
    – Consider adding top contributors as commiters
    – Build cool new projects
    – Log bugs
  • Don’t forget why you started the project (is your itch scratched)
  • Keep an open mind for new ideas and directions (rails/merb)
  • Competing tools are great, embrace them
  • Seek wise council, learn from others (Apache, Mozilla, Django, jQuery etc.)
  • Be part of the industry
  • Trust the process

Questions and Discussion

Speaking experience


  • Adam picture 96x96

    Adam Christian

    Slide Inc.


    I started out my time in the bay area working at the Open Source Applications Foundation on the Cosmo web calendaring project. I then found my way to Slide Inc. where I am currently working as a web developer, building a test automation system to stop regressions forever!

    While at OSAF I was the co founder of the Windmill Testing Framework, I am an active blogger, active skier, occasional guitarist and sometimes I write open source code :)