Introducing Ohloh Organizations: A New View On FOSS

Since time immemorial – well, since 2006, anyway – Ohloh has had two top-level entities that it tracks: projects, and people. But the FOSS world is more than just individual projects and developers. Organizations large and small, corporate and non-profit, educational, governmental, and independent all are a part of the FOSS landscape. Those who’ve been around the open source world awhile know that many of the most popular, most active, and most widely adopted projects are affiliated with software foundations. Indeed, the rise of foundations and other non-profit software organizations has been one of the drivers in making the FOSS movement mainstream.

So what impact do organizations have on the world of FOSS? Are projects that are managed under the auspices of foundations more successful? Will the rise of cloud computing platform organizations accelerate FOSS innovation in this area? Which companies contribute the most to FOSS? Who are the top developers working on an organization’s projects? These are all questions that have been hard to answer. Some organizations have built their own analytics to begin to answer them but there has been no consistent, comparable way to roll up project activity to get a view of an entire organization’s impact on FOSS. Until now.

Introducing Ohloh Organizations

Ohloh’s new Organizations feature rolls up two interlinked kinds of FOSS activity. First, an Ohloh organization groups projects together by the entity that fosters their communities and governance, and manages their shared resources and I.P. whether this is a non-profit or for-profit entity. Ohloh computes aggregate statistics to give overall views of such organizations, including the most active projects and contributors.

Second, Ohloh organizations aggregate the contributions that developers make on behalf of entities, whether their employers, their schools, for governmental entities, or as members or contributors to foundations or other non-profits. If you’re working for a company and your job includes contributing to FOSS on behalf of your employer, Ohloh can pool your work along with your colleagues to show where and how much your company is contributing. You’ll be able to see which entities are contributing, and the relative impact those entities have on the direction of a project or organization, by seeing their contribution impact.

Today, you can see the first kind of roll-up: projects within organizations: 

In a near-term iteration, we’ll add in the second view showing where organizations are contributing. But this feature depends on you, the users of Ohloh, attributing your contributions to the right organizations. You’ll notice that when you claim a contribution for your Ohloh account, you’re asked to supply an optional affiliation. Ohloh will help you choose from the available set of organizations already in the system, or let you enter free-form text if you don’t see your organization listed.

Creating A New Organization on Ohloh

We are not opening up creation of new organizations to everyone just yet. We’d like to manage this a bit at first and see how it goes. So if you’d like your organization added, please contact us using our web form or send email to info -at- ohloh.net with your request. It isn’t a big deal for us to add more organizations and we’re keen to include yours, so please don’t hesitate to contact us. In addition, organizations will typically have managers that curate their list of projects. Organizations that don’t claim projects, but only make contributions to other projects may not need managers but those that claim projects definitely need one or more responsible folk to claim projects. Please nominate yourself for this role if you ask to add an organization.

Its Beta – Comments Welcome!

This feature really depends on good data. We’re rolling it out as a Beta feature because it will take time for this data to become populated in Ohloh’s database, and for the resulting analyses to be reliable. We think that the feature will offer a compelling new look into the dynamics of the FOSS world, but only after it has a chance to age and mellow a bit, like a fine wine – and right now it is fresh from the barrel! Please don’t rely on the feature to make critical decisions – rather, use it as another data point in better understanding FOSS.

Got ideas for making it better, more useful? Want to report an issue? There is a Disqus thread embedded at the bottom of the organization summary pages – join in the conversation!

We want to thank our launch partner organizations, including Apache Software FoundationEclipse FoundationMozilla FoundationWikimedia Foundation, and the KDE community. You all rock!

Ohloh has reached a level of maturity where most of the active projects, and active developers, are known to the system. Now, we’re leveraging this broad coverage to start surfacing new insights into the world of FOSS! Please add your organization and projects to the mix!

About Rich Sands

I'm the Principal and Founder of RSands Consulting, a developer/FOSS strategy, product management, and marketing consultancy. Formerly Ohloh's PM, Black Duck is now a client of mine.