[kwlug-disc] OpenSource Me!

john at netdirect.ca john at netdirect.ca
Fri Dec 19 15:44:23 EST 2008

The "you'll have to support it" really needs to be clarified. 

Very few (nobody?) Treats an application as serious unless it is currently maintained (recent file dates at sf.net) and often only if it solves a need right away. Something still in development won't earn many developers. There is a critical mass that needs to be reached before people will contribute. 

Initially youl be writing this in your own little bubble and for your own purposes. I'd recommend you release it as soon as something works and do your mareting magic on it for promotions. 

Once released provide developer support for free and maybe answer simple user questions to get them started. You business model could be paid support/installation/turnkey server/hosted solution/custom programming/migration services. 

There must be other programming savvy financial advisors out there (or am I crazy) if you find them (or they you) they will contribute for their own reasons. Making it easy for them to do so would help grow the legion of contributors (hopefully its a legion. )

But... You should expect to put a lot of effort in before you get lots of help. You might consider test marketing to see if other developers are interested.  The idea of a crm enabled firefox/thunderbird/sunbird combo should be popular. 

----- Original Message -----
From: Paul Nijjar [paul_nijjar at yahoo.ca]
Sent: 12/19/2008 12:29 PM PST
To: KWLUG discussion <kwlug-disc at kwlug.org>
Subject: Re: [kwlug-disc] OpenSource Me!

--- On Fri, 12/19/08, Insurance Squared Inc. <gcooke at insurancesquared.com> wrote:

> Pro's to putting it up opensource.
> - I don't have to support it (and support wouldn't
> be any fun at all  given my market)

False. False false false. 

Unsupported apps are unloved apps. Either you will be supporting this
(with bugfixes, releases, etc) or it is going to fail. When choosing
potential applications to use I always look at whether the app is
being developed/maintained. If it isn't then it is immediately

You may get lucky and have the project adopted by other people, but
don't count on this unless you are willing to put (non-billable)
effort into it as well. 

> What say you?  What would you do as a business person?  If
> I did go GPL, 
> how would I maximize and other potential benefits from
> doing this?

If I was in a competitive market I would definitely choose GPL over
more permissive licences like BSD, because any licence that lets my
competitors take my code and fold it into proprietary products is a
fools game. 

One big pro that you might get is that people will write plugins and
scripts that will allow the app to be used in ways you never dreamed
of (such as importing the datafiles from your overpriced competitors).
And then there are the improved quality arguments, but they only apply
if you have a reliable userbase, and you only get that if you are
willing to see the project through (or convince somebody else that
there is a market in this). 

If I was designing a system I would do it so that it is easy for
others to customize without having to understand the whole codebase.
That will maximize the opportunity for others to contribute to your
project without needing to devote their lives to it. 

I would also consider cross-platform compatibility from the ground up.
Maybe you really want this to be written in a way that somebody can
install the application on a Windows server. Doing so might be icky
but it could increase your userbase quite a lot. 

Similarly, you may want to avoid tying yourself down to MySQL by
writing with database abstraction in mind. 

Mind you, I am not in a competitive market, so I really don't know
what I am talking about. But these are my thoughts based on my open
source experience and decision making.

I am not certain that your decision to abandon all other CRMs because
they are too complicated is the best way to go. There are a lot of
social advantages you get by contributing to existing projects rather
than starting from scratch. 

- Paul

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