Not too long ago Rob Conery made a call to adopt an open source project. It really made an impact on me personally because we use a lot of open source projects at our company. My reaction was one of excitement, but thinking that it would be impossible to incorporate this within our company from the top down. Sure we could do a little bit of side work here and there, but for our company to obligate their employees for “nothing” in return seemed a bit unrealistic.
The following Wednesday-ish (I usually wait for the right opportunity) I spoke with my boss about possibly dedicating a couple hours on Friday afternoons to work on open source projects. I laid out a list of what I considered potential benefits for supporting this.
- Helps everyone get outside their comfort zone
- We use a lot of open source, it’s our way of giving back
- Keeps things exciting, even during periods of maintenance programming
- Expands our employees resumes
- Helps encourage employee loyalty
- I’m sure I’m forgetting a few others I mentioned
To my surprise my boss said “a couple of hours doesn’t seem like enough time to get anything done, we should do it for a half-day on Friday’s after lunch. First I need to get approval from the CEO, etc.” He came back the next week and said “so are we ready to start the open source stuff tomorrow afternoon”. I’m sure you’re as surprised as I was. Since we started in early December we have worked on quite a few open source projects. I’ll list below the projects that we have contributed to in roughly two months time.
- Rhino Service Bus
- Iron Ruby
- Fleck (C# Websockets)
- KanFu (Sample FubuMVC Application)
- MvcToFubu (Transition to FubuMVC from ASP.NET MVC
I think the biggest unforeseen benefit is that it has helped us hire more talented developers. Some of our most recent hires made their decision largely based on the investment the company was willing to have in open source. It also seems to scare away the talent we’re not interested in. (Speaking of which, we’re hiring 3 more engineers so contact me if you’re interested)
I hope to give periodic updates to let everyone know how things progress at our company.
I challenge other companies to start doing the same. There are a LOT of .NET developers and they all have something to offer if they are afforded the time to do so. It can’t hurt to try so let’s start by being a positive change in our community. Not one that only complains when things don’t go our way.