Free Resources to Help You Launch Your Open Source Project

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 20, 2012

Have you been considering launching an open source project? Doing so involves a series of decisions that can give you a proper chance at rallying community support, staying on the right side of the law, and building a strong user base.  Issues pertaining to licensing, distribution, support options and even branding require thinking ahead if you want your project to flourish. In this post, you'll find our newly updated collection of good, free resources to pay attention to if you're starting an open source project.

The Open Source Definition is where every project leader should start when it comes to how open source projects should be distributed, and what actually qualifies as open source. It's also good to review Open Standards requirements.

 As we noted in this post, the Software Freedom Law Center has a set of very good online resources on how open source licenses and copyrights work, and much more. Legal issues are smart to anticipate up front. The authors are attorneys who were part of creating popular open source licenses. It's also an excellent idea to keep up with urrent and archived editions of the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review

Whether you are an experienced web developer or not, if you're working on a web-based project, you can benefit from the many free web development resources offered by the open source community. We covered many of the best ones in this post.  These range from analytics tools such as Piwik to browser extensions that can help you with web-centric development tasks on the fly. 

For an easy to digest, plain language discussion of license types for open source projects, and which license will work best for your project, try FOSS License Wars. The  discussion is broken up into chapters that you can skim as you see fit, and the information is solid. We have much more information on licenses available here, and the Free Software Foundation has a good primer. It's also an excellent idea to visit SourceForge, and review the many projects housed there, which types of licenses they have, how their communities work, and more. Should your project be housed there?

If you're stitching together open source code or deploying applications, Hewlett-Packard's free application Fossology is designed to analyze the source code for any project and report accurately on which licenses are being used.

For developers who want learning resources, offers useful tutorials on topics such as Python programming, and W3Schools has excellent, free tutorials on web development topics. You can find many more free development resources in our post here.

When you're beginning an open source project, it's an excellent time to remember that most projects change shape innumerable times as they evolve. In fact, the random walk of FOSS development can cause a project in version 3.0 to bear little resemblance to the original concept. We discussed this and how to prepare for the consequences here

Finally, don't forget that OStatic itself is an excellent forum for getting questions answered. Type a question in at any time in our Member Questions area (see the Questions button on the home page) and you'll get answers from experts. You can also read some of OStatic's many interviews with open source project leaders, some of them found here, here, and here, and find a whole series of interviews on open source cloud-based projects here.