Brace yourselves: Facebook plans MORE PHP jiggery pokery

Zuck's world is predominantly mobile, so he's looking there


Staying alive

“We started doing open source programs in 2008 ... that, at that time were not very well received. We perhaps did that a little prematurely – or, I should say, we didn’t have the resources to follow through on the projects to keep them alive,” Pearce said.

“One of the things we’ve learned over the years is open source is a bi-directional process: you can’t just put the software out – you have to maintain it.“

“When we looked at rebooting this two years ago, we looked at getting more discipline – what we are getting out of it, and the obligations from us, so we could go out with a bunch of new projects and how we’d support them," Pearce said.

It’s an ages old tale, and – frankly – we can’t believe Facebook needed to learn what a section of the industry has chuntering on about for at least a decade.

The deceased Sun Microsystems went through that as it tired – and failed — to turn from systems supertanker into software speedboat; Microsoft was forced into it. Even Linux shops like Canonical have had to examine themselves, having managed to make a mess of their community relations at time. Still.

What are the new rules at Facebook? Taking responsibility for code that’s gone over the wall?

“I’d say the other thing we’ve learned, too, is to be careful about ownership, to make sure these things never get neglected. The big red flag for any external community looking to use a project is not seeing it get neglected, not supported, or updated,” Pearce said.

“We make sure everybody working on an open-source project has certain obligations, such as response times on GitHub, and make sure we are syncing the project. And we have a playlist of these best practices we are doing out best to communicated inside the company and to our industry partners – we have an open-source group and we share our ideas on how to run these things successfully."

“After a while you begin to learn which are successful and which will stick,” Pearce said. Unlike Sun, and slightly less like Microsoft, Pearce reckons Facebook can be ideologically purer and less compromised in its dealings with the community.

That’s because Facebook isn’t trying to build a products business on the open code at the same time.

“One reason we found it easier to run a program versus companies like Sun is because quite orthogonal to our business, so we are never having to weigh up what is open source versus what are we trying to sell, or how will we put a fermium model on this,” Pearce said.

“For us, it’s purely engineering for engineering’s sake and the success of failure of the projects is separate from our biz model," he added. Which begs the question, if Facebook isn’t making any cash of this – why’s it bothering?


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