Business of Foswiki


Not strictly speaking "business", but it is important to realise the direction that Foswiki should embark and ensure that its vision is beneficial for the community at large.

An article by Bruce Byfield called Business vs. FOSS: Six Pressure Points provides an overall balance of Commercial vs FOSS, and what FOSS projects should take note. For many months the ex-TWiki community was struggling between commercial and FOSS, i.e. TWiki.NET vs TWiki.ORG. We forked well, and surely we can all agree that we should continue to learn from one another to make Foswiki a better place as a community and product.

Below are KwangErnLiew point of view in which Foswiki should pay interest on.

Hierarchy vs. Meritocracy

Foswiki has been doing well on meritocracy and will only continue to improve by streamlining the task teams and processes. Meritocracy must be practised continuously throughout to stay in-line with the principles of Foswiki.

Profits vs. Excellence/Freedom

Undeniably, Excellence and Freedom have been the main points even before the fork.

Gatekeepers vs. Openness

Foswiki are already beginning to see that communication isn't as clear as it can/should be between the "core" and "community". We also know that, whether we like it or not, Foswiki will be structured similarly to a company/organisation, i.e. the Association, that will distinguish the "core" and "community".

It's very important to ask ourselves, will we fall into the trap of poor public relations? The article suggests guidelines help, and to achieve that we must improve our method(s) of discussion. It is also important to understand that Foswiki community is at a global scale in which each of us having our own priorities. Putting it into perspective, we must ask ourselves, is it necessary for the entire community to know everything to achieve openness and 100% transparency? If yes, shouldn't all communications be 'refactored' into topics? Note that this may not seem to be practical.

PR work is clearly important, but it's also important for the Board to have guidelines set as to how "open" should Foswiki be.

Scheduled vs. Open-Ended Releases

Surely everyone would agree on releasing a product that is reliable and stable. However, the release of TWiki 4.2.x could be an example to show that releasing too early can be harmful (in regards to WYSIWYG). A lesson to be learnt.

Another FOSS project that KwangErnLiew is quite active went through a similar situation and it surely dampened their image. But of course, they quickly learnt from their mistakes and have improved through a community-involved QA. They have been in QA mode (code freezed) for nearly 2 months now. The community has been very active in stress testing for bugs and fixing it. Time and patience helps. Foswiki's release process does not suck, but it can be (much) better.

The strength of FOSS should always be not having any commercial-entity interrupting the quality of any release.

Proprietary vs. Free Licenses

No comment. smile

Strategy vs. Way of Life

Bruce Byfield wrote, For most people in the community, FOSS is not simply a useful strategy, but a community where they have found respect and even fame. Working in FOSS gives them a sense of direction, a chance to put ideals into practice, and to identify with something larger than themselves.


I haven't been following closely on the status of having a PM, but I still find having a PM can be beneficial to us all to ensure the points laid out in the article and beyond are met. Or will the Association take care of it all? Just my 2 cents.

-- KwangErnLiew

I think the text of this topic describes well what we are in terms of "business". We do not develop this project to sell it and earn money from licenses and boxes. We develop the product because we are either users of it ourselves, or because we use the program as part of our business, or because we just love the whole idea behind project. For me it is the two of the 2. I use the program every day at work for my own projects, and I love the idea and I get motivated by the positive feedback I get when someone can use what I have been part of doing.

I sense the feeling that you think some of the "core" people are keeping information to ourselves. This is not at all the case. On the contrary. All we do is well documented with a task for everything we do (that is how we have setup SVN).

On the association the suggested articles have been public now for weeks and the interest has been near zero. It should be known by all that Andre, Jens and I are working on it and we have discovered that the legal process of registration of an association in Germany to ensure tax free status is complicated and takes time. So what is dragging there is boring legal questions. We are trying to get free help from legal experts now. If this turns out to drag too much, we will probably need to form a new interim governance board. Or to form the association in another country. And to clarify, the TWiki Interim Governance Board does not exist anymore. We decided that we did not have any mandate to be a board and do not meet or communicate in secret.

The attempt to create a PM role ended up in secret webs and locked up topics. Something I stopped very openly and publicly. I think it is clear now that us that work most hours on the project have openess as a core value. The plan is that the association will elect a board of directors with a chairman. But in daily work the plan is that the task teams have responsibilities and power. The association is not going to act the role as BDFL for a year. In most open source projects hard work is influence. The more you do the more you have influence. That is a good and healthy principle. As release manager for 1.0.0 I do not see myself as a PM. I am a secretary that tries to maintain the overview and update the plans and keep the bug reports in order so we do not miss anything.

The plans for the project are clear. This website needs a lot of work. The skin and the server is the least thing. We need to setup the remaining content and anyone can help here. The release plan is also laid out in the Development web. 1.0.0 has only two objective. Rebrand and a compatibility layer for TWiki plugins. Rest is test test test fix fix fix.

With respect to the 1.0.0 release. We need many more of you to install svn checkout/pseudo-install based instanced of Foswiki. We need many more to test the project we will soon ship. Not all can program perl. But you can all install Foswiki and test it to pieces. It was the same situation for 4.2.0. It was not released too early. It was very late when it was released. Problem was too many of you did not test it until it was released. Too many of you wait till X.0.0 or maybe even till X.0.1 or X.0.2 is released. That does not make a stable product. You all need to install the program within the next week or so and start power testing on a non-production server with the plugins you normally use and with complete copies of webs from your production servers. And report the bugs in the Tasks web. When the renaming of the TWiki->Foswiki is complete in just a few days I will start encouraging you to install test servers. And we will help those that are uncomfortable with making an SVN based installation. It is not that difficult when you get a helping hand. Plugins developers also need to get started testing their plugins under the new naming scheme. I am doing a lot of the renaming but I am doing it blindly. You all will need to test that they work. We core developers cannot test 300 plugins.

The reward will be a cool 1.0.0 release for all of us.

-- KennethLavrsen - 21 Nov 2008 - 23:58

Interest in articles of association

By my quick count, there are seven people who have commented on the articles and ten different editors, so compared with many other topics, the articles do seem to have attracted some interest. Are there any specific areas in which you are looking for feedback? -- IsaacLin - 22 Nov 2008 - 01:34
Topic revision: r4 - 22 Nov 2008, IsaacLin
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