Video-streamer and junior filmed entertainment production house Netflix has updated its open source policies, with a notable change being a decision to release code pre-packaged in Docker's container formats.
Netflix has released lots of its production code as open source, but now says those efforts were confusing some because “... it was getting harder to figure out which projects were useful for a particular company or a team; which were fully independent; and which were coupled together.”
“The external community was also unclear about which components we (Netflix) continued to invest and support, and which were in maintenance or sunset mode.”
Developers also told the company “it was hard to get started with many of our OSS projects” as “Setup / configuration was often difficult and tricky.”
Henceforth the company will therefore be “... packaging most (not yet all) of our projects in the Docker format for easy setup.” Netflix is at pains to point out that packaging its code in this way doesn't mean it is ready to plunk into production, but is instead “purely for a quick ramp-up curve for understanding the open source projects. We have found that it is far easier to help our users’ setup of our projects by running pre-built, runnable Docker containers rather than publish source code, build and setup instructions in prose on a Wiki.”
A refresh of the company's GitHub outpost is among its other developer-friendly efforts, which include a pledge to do the four following things from now on:
- Provide full transparency on which projects are archived - i.e. no longer actively developed or maintained. We will not be removing any code from Github repos, but will articulate if we’re no longer actively developing or using a particular project. Netflix needs change over time, and this will affect and reflect our OSS projects.
- Provide a better roadmap for what new projects we are planning to open, and which Open projects are still in the state of heavy flux (evolution). This will allow the community to better decide whether particular projects are interesting / useful.
- Expose some of the internal metrics we use to evaluate our OSS projects - number of issues, commits, etc. This will provide better transparency of the maturity / velocity of each project.
- Documentation. Documentation. Documentation.
Docker is increasingly popular and Netflix is an influential company, so the decision to Dockerise could well make ripples and further advance the container platform's popularity and reach. If that's still possible, given that Microsoft, VMware, OpenStack and many others have all decided Docker's a grand way to do containers. ®