How Good Open Source Software Happens or "How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Just Released My Code"



Where do people get ideas for Open Source projects? How do you decide if your personal project is worth releasing to the world? Will anyone use it? One of the most prolific and successful Perl authors will give his insights on balancing sharing, selfishness and who gets to run the Open Source world.


Lots of new Open Source authors wonder what project should they work on? What should they do? They might have some personal widget of their own they find useful, will anyone else? Should they release it? What if nobody uses it? What if its not up to standard? Should they fix it up first?

These concerns come from a misunderstanding of how good Open Source projects happen. We’ll look at how one very large Open Source community works: the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network, CPAN. With 4000 authors and 16,000 projects it is one of the largest software communities in the world. We’ll talk about how its decided who runs CPAN, what the best projects are and how authors decide what to do next. And we’ll talk about the importance of chaos and bad software in long term survivability.

Hopefully you will embrace the motto, “don’t worry, be crappy”.

Speaking experience


  • Schwern round tuit oscon 2005


    Schwern has a copy of Perl 6, he lets Larry Wall borrow it and take notes.

    Schwern once sneezed into a microphone and the text-to-speech conversion was a regex that turns crap into gold.

    Damian Conway and Schwern once had an arm wrestling contest. The superposition still hasn’t collapsed.

    Schwern was the keynote speaker at the first YAPC::Mars.

    When Schwern runs a smoke test, the fire department is notified.

    Dan Brown analyzed a JAPH Schwern wrote and discovered it contained the Bible.

    Schwern writes Perl code that writes Makefiles that write shell scripts on VMS.

    Schwern does not commit to master, master commits to Schwern.

    SETI broadcast some of Schwern’s Perl code into space. 8 years later they got a reply thanking them for the improved hyper drive plans.

    Schwern once accidentally typed “git pull —hard” and dragged Github’s server room 10 miles.

    There are no free namespaces on CPAN, there are just modules Schwern has not written yet.

    Schwern’s tears are said to cure cancer, unfortunately his Perl code gives it right back.