Congrats to these 8 new ASF Directors!

Along with many thanks to all past ASF directors and officers, let me congratulate these 8 people on being elected to the new board.

  • Doug Cutting
  • Justin Erenkrantz
  • Roy T. Fielding
  • Jim Jagielski
  • Geir Magnusson Jr
  • Brian McCallister
  • Brett Porter
  • Greg Stein

Oh, you noticed, huh? There are usually 9 names on the board. Hmmm.

Many thanks to every member at the ASF for this humbling experience! While it feels trite to type it, getting elected to the ASF board is a huge technical honor. There are few places this interesting to get elected by an independent body of your technical peers – and we have quite the strong and capable body of members.

Now to start scheduling all the board meetings, and get ready for my first official one next week.

What I believe: the ASF’s Mission Statement

What I believe

The mission statement of The Apache Software Foundation should be:

To provide high quality, open source software for the public good at no cost, and to showcase our meritocratic and community driven method of building sustainable software projects.

Note that this differs slightly from the original Certificate of Incorporation, both in some clarifying details, and the addition of the “showcase…” part. The original incorporation papers – over 10 years ago now – very broadly defined what the Foundation was going to do as:

… engage in any lawful act or activity …, including the creation and maintenance of “open source” software distributed by the Corporation to the public at no charge.

Commentary

  • It’s clear that the core mission is to provide software for the public good. That’s both the key value we provide as a non-profit serving the public, is what we were founded to do, and what we’ve been very successful at.
  • I would argue we should add the “high quality” or a similar qualifier, because the greater public isn’t well served by projects that don’t work well or have major bugs. If we really want to serve the public good, our projects need to work for them mostly as-is to serve some useful function.

    Note that I don’t see any need to restrict the type or kinds of projects we engage in; I’d be happy to have an end-user browser come to the ASF, if the community aspect made sense.

  • I believe adding the “and to showcase…” section is important. Our success beyond the actual software products we’ve provided for the public is astounding, in terms of our leadership position in the areas of software licensing, community development, and public and media awareness of open source issues. If our purpose is a public charity, then we should capitalize on what we’re good at.
  • “Meritocratic and community driven” is another way of saying “The Apache Way”. Communities tend to build better software – in the long term – than individuals. And a healthy and diverse community is the best way for merit to surface and be recognized, typically within the ASF as being elected a committer. Note that diversity of community is important as a policy too, as our Incubator’s graduation policy shows.
  • “building sustainable software projects.” This is the rationale for the “showcase” addition. We’ve proven that not only can we build software, we also have a pretty good method for doing it – and keeping it going. The sustainability is a key part of our value to the public: knowing that our projects will likely continue to support and improve our software is a huge benefit over short-term projects or ones that die out if key individual committers move on.
  • Besides the fact that I believe the public benefits from learning about our methods, the “showcase” part also has an indirect benefit for the public as well. Teaching other software developers (and others) about how we work and succeed will draw more individuals, organizations, and projects towards us. This enables us to provide even more software for the public good, and helps to ensure that people wanting to donate time or code to the ASF will be aware of our policies, and it will be easier for them to join us if they choose to.

I’m sure it can use some minor wordsmithing; I can’t quite express the merit and community ideas in the clearest (yet concise) way yet. But I believe we’re selling ourselves far too short if we don’t acknowledge and embrace the fact that our impact on the world stretches well beyond simply the code that we release.

Donate to the ASF, get a free feather button!

ASF Contributor ButtonYou may have seen the round “Contributor” buttons with the ASF feather at ApacheCon this year. To get one, all you need to do is make an individual donation (cash/check/Paypal) to the ASF, and let me know about it, and I’ll give you a button for free.

While we hope that we’ve recognized everyone’s contributions in code, community, and other content, it’s important to remember that the ASF has actual costs in terms of bandwidth, hardware, infrastructure and the like. Separately, our Foundation non-profit status requires us to show broad public support in our donations. That makes it doubly important that there are enough individual, personal, donors to the Foundation – any any level from a dollar or a euro and up.

None of this is meant to pass over the tremendous contributions that our committers and all of our community has given to the ASF over the years. It’s just a realization of the larger picture, and a reminder that there are more ways to contribute than just patches and helpful emails.

Note: If your organization or employer is interested in sponsoring the ASF at a larger level, with the attendant recognition, we’re happy to see that too. Jim has a great overview about Sponsoring the ASF at the Corporate and Individual Level that’s worth a look even if you’re not considering a contribution.

Join the Apache History project!

OK, OK, so we don’t need a new PMC, but we do need some better history of the early years of the Foundation. To contribute your bit, we currently have a wiki page to try to capture key milestones, especially early on.

http://wiki.apache.org/general/History

So this is a great start, but given that we’re geeks, I figure there has got to be a better way to generate and store data about our history. I’d love to someday see a dataset that people can use to create mashups including our history with the global timeline. Anyone up for the challenge of:

  • Writing a board report parser to produce structured, dated data of board resolutions (isn’t there a lab for this)
  • Graphing the growth of committers, members, and PMCs over time (I can figure out members from meeting attendance data, and PMCs from the above board reports – but easiest way to graph committer growth?)
  • Showing lines of code over time, both within all code projects, as well as within infra/site/other repos
  • Graphing changes in the board over time, both of individuals and company affiliations (the last merely for curiosity’s sake)

Stay tuned for my own ApacheCon timeline, which I’ll post as soon as I have time to hack.

Why you should sponsor the ASF

I forgot how good Jim’s slides are as a high level overview of the ASF Sponsorship Program. (You can also read the 2008 version.) I think that often those of us who’ve been around for a while forget how important is for us – the ASF and all it’s communities – to be able to express to the outside world what we’re about, and how you might want to help. I’m really glad to see this lunchtime presentation – also being streamed live – so well attended!

While the subjects of sponsorships are doubly important given the economy these days, I think the metaphor of the ASF’s growing impact on the world of software is the more important message. As an all-volunteer and heavily developer organization, it’s sometimes hard to remember how important the other connections with the world: even if we’re sometimes uncomfortable as developers talking about funding and revenue, they are important things both to how our operations work, as well as how the world perceives us. As Jim so aptly points out, as a group of geeks, we often shy away from talking about the bigger picture, and just focus on our technology or our immediate community.

In other news, a big shout out to Jim Jag for mentioning the other ways you can show support for the ASF, including ASF Swag and other ASF licensed vendors, and the surprisingly successful car donation program. One of the ways to help out is to wear your Apache or ApacheCon tshirts and buttons at other events – and a portion of all profits from these vendors is sent as a donation to the ASF itself.

Are you blogging about ApacheCon yet?

If you’re not here, let us know how the live video streams were (the Linux Pro Magazine people definitely want feedback). And if you are here, blog about it! Yes, you!

Seriously: has anyone noticed a slowdown in blogging about ApacheCon? I remember a couple of years ago when Planet Apache would be covered with dozens of posts each day, both people’s overview of “what I did today” as well as specific posts about keynotes, interesting sessions, etc. But we seem to have slowed down a bit in the past year or two. What’s up with that? Are people just tweeting about it now, is it not as exciting as it used to be, or is it something else?

Also – if you attended one of the MeetUps or BarCampApache, please blog it up! Not only is it traditional to blog about your experiences at events like BarCamps, but I’d love to see more feedback about how the events went. We’d like to see a mix of both old hats (you know who you are) and new faces at these events – so we need to know how the events went, and what you thought of them.

In particular, I’d love to see specific thoughts about how we – Concom and Planners – can do a better job of supporting smaller, more focused events, either in conjunction with, or separately from ApacheCon as a whole. But the first step is getting better, more specific feedback. The next step after that of course is also finding more volunteers to help do the organizing… (Thanks Arje!)