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Monday, May 30, 2011

Maketing - the art of building open source projects

An open source project is more than source code - beyond the application itself it is about proper promoting, interactive community and vision.

No matter how good it is the application, if you are not able to promote it and attract a loyal community, then it is not going to succeed. Without transmitting the vision, defining a clear target and development path, community is not jumping on board.

This year is 10 years of SIP Express Router (aka SER) - the reference implementation of open source SIP server. I was involved at the top management of the project from its early beginning, then developing a different path through the fork Kamailio (former OpenSER) for about 3 years and since 2008 I am again full time in it - right now SER and Kamailio share the same source code, same developers, because of database structure constraints, they are still released as independent applications.

Looking back over the years, I realized that building successful open source project is beyond programming skills. With this post I am opening a series of blog posts to share from my experiences.

The posts will be tagged maketing. It is not a typo, just a hash tag resulted from:
  • make - one of the famous tools used in open source to build your application, very common in Unix/Linux world
  • marketing - strategies and actions of promoting
Coming in my mind to approach in future posts, not in this order and not limited to:
  • from an idea to first announcement
  • key aspects of code development - taking care of own code and contributing to parts from other developers
  • developers' interaction - the project counted over 80 registered developers from more than 10 countries, over 25 still very active, 5 joined in the past half a year
  • community - from the group of developers to thousands of users - engaging people beyond programmers
  • marketing - attending events, organizing events, news and articles
  • versioning and release policies - what are the important aspects to take care of
  • branding - how SER, OpenSER and Kamailio went from day one, an unknown name, to become very popular and recognized brand in the market at their time
  • handling forking - good and bad times
  • project management - its role, who should do it and how has to be done
  • penetrating the money market with open source
Expect stories based on my personal experiences, what I considered to be good and bad, how I dealt in special cases, what I think could have been done better. Maybe they will be useful for somebody in the wild to build better open source projects...

Update:

Following posts were released in this series:

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