OpenLayers 3 - How To Successfully Run A Crowdfunding Campaign For An OSS Project

C├ędric Moullet (swisstopo)

12:00 on Saturday 21st September (in Session 61, starting at 11 a.m., Sir Clive Granger Building: A39)

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Description: In order to create the third release of OpenLayers, an important crowdfunding effort was organized by the OpenLayers community in 2012 and was able to collect 350,000USD for the development of this new release. This presentation will present the key findings of this effort.

The impressive list of OSGeo Projects [1] show the necessity to develop OpenSource software. Behind all lines of code, there is the work of one developer. And, in our capitalist world, work means money. This presentation will underline the challenges of the crowdfunding effort organized for the development of the next major release of OpenLayers 3. OpenLayers is one of the most famous OSGeo library and is widely used for the development of web mapping applications. Its development started in 2007. In 2012, it was clear for the developers that the current release was at the end of its life. The emergence of new technologies implied to create a complete new libraries based on these new technologies. As usual in the OpenSource world, some developers started this work in the middle of 2012. Since a complete rewrite was required, it appeared clearly that the work needed to obtain a library that would allow the migration to the new release was huge. It was estimated to 2’500 hours of work. At this time, swisstopo planned a migration of its web mapping applications. swisstopo decided to use the future release of OpenLayers, which was only a very first prototype. In order to benefit of the advantages of OpenSource developments made by a community, it was not possible for swisstopo to simply mandate a company for the development of this library. The commitment of the OpenLayers community and its committers/developers was needed. So, in order to speed up the development process, swisstopo decided to invest a substantial amount of money and to organize a crowdfunding effort together with companies active in the OpenLayers development scene. Several financement channels were used: micro fundings from individuals and more important fundings from companies and administrations. This presentation will describe the main problems and challenges faced during this crowdfunding effort and how they have been solved. Here is a list of these problems and challenges: - Some key actors had to be convinced to donate in order to convince others to follow the movement. It is important that one or two big players make the first donations. And, since the money is managed by the higher manager, a lot of energy has been put in explaining how an OpenSource community works. The OpenSource development model is still not very well known and the higher management often think that a normal contract with one company is the best way to develop softwares. - The general objective was to be clear and strong enough in order to convince individuals, companies or administrations to invest on something that didn’t exist. - The financial capacities of individuals, companies or administrations are not the same. But all are part of the OpenLayers community. It was important to be able to handle donations of some dollars to some thousand of dollars. - OpenLayers is an OpenSource community, but is not a legal entity. It’s therefore not possible to make a contract with OpenLayers. In order to solve that, the main companies of the OpenLayers development scene decided to create an association in order to simplify the administrative aspects. - The commitments and the resources of the OpenLayers committers was needed in order to ensure that the library could be developed in a short time frame and with the necessary level of quality. - A worldwide communication concept has to be put in place in order to reach all potential crowdfunders. And this only with a few persons working partially on this project. - An organization had to be put in place in order to coordinate the work of persons located all around the world. But at the end, the result is here: more than 350’000 USD have been found and the development of OpenLayers 3 is a reality. And everyone can now benefit of a modern, performant and 2D/3D web mapping library, thanks to all crowdfunders and developers !!! [1]