Development Process Commons

— Morten @ 19:12

Creating a decent web precense for an open source project is often much more work than one initially anticipates. You need to find an appropriate license and come up with a long list of non-product specific information to help interested end-users and (potentially contributing) developers along.

Unless you are prepared to spend a considerable amount of time answering emails, you will want to make it easy to find answers to the most obvious questions.  For instance, potential contributors might wonder how they can submit their contributions, who’s in charge of what parts of the code, and what tools are used or needed to work on the project. They may also wonder what code should look like or if there are any other requirements for contributions (such as code being accompanied by appropriate unit tests). In the end all of this adds up to a sizeable task that involves lots of writing.

However, most of what you need to document is not at all project specific. In fact, much of it would be instantly reusable if someone were to package it into selectable chunks, much like you can piece together your own Creative Commons license. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could answer a few questions and out would pop the standard documents you need for incubating your project?

I’ve dubbed this the Development Process Commons. A pool of standard documents and an engine to help people choose the bits they need.

You could have process documentation (common project organizational structures, contribution guidelines, check-in policies to adhere to, mechanisms for support and incident handling), tools documentation (setup and usage instructions), development language-specific documents (C# coding guidelines, platform design guidelines, best practices), and anything else worth sharing across projects.

I’m hopeful that someone out there will eventually recognize the need for this, and work to create such a meta-OSS project. Even if my humble blog won’t be able to create the mass exposure required, I’d like to think that perhaps it could be the first pebble thrown in the much too still pond…