Reflections on 9 months in Osmosoft

osmosoft logoLate last Summer, Osmosoft got off the ground as a part of BT. We’ve now been through two roughly identifiable phases of the experiment: the first was characterised by building the team and figuring out our place in the world, and culminated in releasing the first version of RippleRap at LeWeb3 in December; the second phase was a much more technically-focussed exploration, with an openness for the individual to pursue whatever was interesting in any given moment; this phase culminated in the release of the second version of RippleRap at BlogTalk2008 in Cork.

Reflecting on the first two cycles, it’s pretty clear that the next step for Osmosoft is to begin a stage of increasing maturity and increasing productivity. Our development efforts are focussed around TiddlyWiki and we’ve reached the point where the team speaks TiddlyWiki. Now’s the time to build on the investment that’s brought us to this point. We have grown the team from the lonely figure of Jeremy, to a dozen Osmosoftonians and I, for one, am damn happy to be in this group.

For me, the main area we need to nail is how to add momentum to the ideas that the team comes up with, to turn them into real, working software in people’s hands. Right from the word go, we’ve maintained that the only metric we really care about is adoption of what we produce. It’s time to start producing.

Osmosoft is funded by BT and this puts us in a very special position as open source developers. We can become an exemplar of how a big company can add value to an open source project. One exciting project that’s emerging is Phil Whitehouse‘s attempts to scale down the expensive User Experience techniques, developed by and for large companies, to a level where they are accessible by members of a project community with little or no funds to expend. Open source projects are often criticised for neglecting the user experience and I think this would an awesome contribution to project communities worldwide. It’s the generous funding by BT that affords us the liberty of investing time and resources into these sorts of projects. A final thought on this is that we benefit from unfettered access to BT’s corporate service infrastructure; by example, supplying free global conference calls for projects we work on is something we can do and should do.

The last area I have in mind right now is involvement in communities outside Osmosoft, whether or not they are part of BT. We are explicitly agnostic about who our customers and colleagues are and all our software is licensed in the least restrictive way possible. Nevertheless, it is still a fact that Osmosoft is a set of professional amateurs – whilst we do what we do for the love of it, we are paid for our contributions. It behoves us to spread the TiddlyWiki love as far and as wide as possible, and lower the barriers for those that want to get involved in the communities we participate in.

I’m looking forward to embracing these challenges over the next phase of Osmosoft’s development. I’m also looking forward to creating some wicked shit. And as ever, our front door is wide open:


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