Open source communities are driven by a mutual interest in collaboration and sharing around a common solution. They are filled with passion and energy. As a result, today’s world is powered by open source software, powering the Internet, databases, programming languages, and so much more. It is revolutionizing industries and tackling the toughest challenges. Just check out the projects fostered here at the Linux Foundation for a peek into what is possible.
What is the challenge?
As the communities and the projects they support grow and mature, active community engagement to recruit, mentor, and enable an active community is critical. Organizations are now recognizing this as they are more and more dependent on open source communities. Yet, while the ethos of open source is transparency and collaboration, the tool chain to automate, visualize, analyze, and manage open source software production remains scattered, siloed, and of varying quality.
How do we address these challenges?
And now, involvement and engagement in open source communities goes beyond software developers and extends to engineers, architects, documentation writers, designers, Open Source Program Office professionals, lawyers, and more. To help everyone stay coordinated and engaged, a centralized source of information about their activities, tooling to simplify and streamline information from multiple sources, and a solution to visualize and analyze key parameters and indicators is critical. It can help:
- Organizations wishing to better understand how to coordinate internal participation in open source and measure outcomes
- CTOs and engineering leads looking to build a cohesive open source strategy
- Project maintainers needing to wrangle the legal and operational sides of the project
- Individual keeping track of their open source impacts
Enter the Linux Foundation’s LFX Platform – LFX operationalizes this approach, providing tools built to facilitate every aspect of open source development and empowers projects to standardize, automate, analyze, and self-manage while preserving their choice of tools and development workflows in a vendor-neutral platform.
LFX tools do not disrupt a project’s existing toolchain but rather integrate a project’s community tools and ecosystem to provide a common control plane with APIs from numerous distributed data sources and operations tools. It also adds intelligence to drive outcome-driven KPIs and utilizes a best practices-driven, vendor-agnostic tools chain. It is the place to go for active community engagement and open source activity, enabling the already powerful open source movement to be even more successful.
How does it work?
Much of the data and information that makes up the open source universe is, not surprisingly, open to see. For instance, GitHub and GitLab both offer APIs that allow third-parties to track all activity on open projects. Social media and public chat channels, blog posts, documentation, and conference talks are also easily captured. For projects hosted at a foundation, such as the Linux Foundation, there is an opportunity to aggregate the public and semi-private data into a privacy respecting, opt-in unified data layer.
More specifically to an organization or project, LFX is modular, extensible, and API-driven. It is pluggable and can easily integrate the data sources and tools that are already in use by organizations rather than force them to change their work processes. For instance:
- Source control software (e.g. Git, GitHub, or GitLab)
- CI/CD platforms (e.g. Jenkins, CircleCI, Travis CI, and GitHub Actions)
- Project management (e.g. Jira, GitHub Issues)
- Registries (e.g. Docker Hub)
- Documentation (e.g. Confluence Wiki)
- Marketing automation (e.g. social media and blogging platforms)
- Event management platforms (e.g. physical event attendance, speaking engagements, sponsorships, webinar attendance, and webinar presentations)
This holistic and configurable view of projects, organizations, foundations, and more make it much easier to understand what is happening in open source, from the most granular to the universal.
What do real-world users think?
Part of LFX is a community forum to ask questions, share solutions, and more. Recently, Jessica Wagantall shared about the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP). She notes:
ONAP is part of the LF Networking umbrella and consists of 30+ components working together towards the same goal since 2017. Since then, we have faced situations where we have to evaluate if the components are getting enough support during release schedules and if we are identifying our key contributors to the project.
In this time, we have learned a lot as we grow, and we have had the chance to have tools and resources that we can rely on every step of the way. One of these tools is LFX Insights.
We rely on LFX Insights tools to guide the internal decisions and keep the project growing and the contributions flowing.
LFX Insights has become a potent tool that gives us an overview of the project as well as statistics of where our project stands and the changes that we have encountered when we evaluate release content and contribution trends.
Read Jessica’s full post for some specific examples of how LFX Insights helps her and the whole team.
John Mertic is a seasoned open source project manager. One of his jobs currently is helping to manage the Academy Software Foundation. John shares:
The Academy Software Foundation was formed in 2018 in partnership with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to provide a vendor-neutral home for open source software in the visual effects and motion picture industries.
A challenge this industry was having was that there were many key open source projects used in the industry, such as OpenVDB, OpenColorIO, and OpenEXR, that were cornerstones to production but lacked developers and resources to maintain them. These projects were predominantly single vendor owned and led, and my experience with other open source projects in other verticals and horizontal industries causes this situation, which leads to sustainability concerns, security issues, and lack of future development and innovation.
As the project hit its 3rd anniversary in 2021, the Governing Board was wanting to assess the impact the foundation has had on increasing the sustainability of these projects. There were three primary dimensions being assessed.
- Contributor growth
- Contribution growth
- Contributor diversity
We at the LF know that seeing those metrics increasing is a good sign for a healthy, sustainable project.
Academy Software Foundation projects use LFX Insights as a tool for measuring community health. Using this tool enabled us to build some helpful charts which illustrated the impacts of being a part of the Academy Software Foundation.
We took the approach of looking at before and after data on the contributor, contribution, and contributor diversity.
Here is one of the charts that John shared. You can view all of them on his post.
LFX will improve communication and collaboration, simplify management, surface the best projects and project leaders, and provide insightful guidance based on real data captured at scale, across the widest variety of projects ever collected into a single source of information. And it is available to you – all Linux Foundation members and projects have access to LFX.
To learn more about what it can do for you and your organization and project(s), read our white paper (LINK), read posts in the LFX Community Forum, or just log in with your free LFID and give it a spin. And check back here on the LF Blog for more articles in the coming months on LFX – digging in deeper.
If you would like to talk to someone at the Linux Foundation about LFX or membership, reach out to Jen Shelby at email@example.com.