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An important part of open source development is the creation of a release for users of the software. Whilst the source code is freely available and usually developed in an open manner, potential developers and users will usually want to be able to evaluate the code quickly and easily. Therefore, projects should frequently release their software in a form that is easily accessible. Open source development is all about attracting users and developers. It is therefore important to release the software early, and as frequently as possible. Many people have difficulty with this concept, asking questions like "won't users be put off by the bugs?" Well, no, that is the point of open source, we are honest about our bugs and, if it really bothers you, you can fix it yourself (or pay someone to fix it).
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"Release early, release often" is a well known mantra of open source development. There are many reasons why it is important to release early and release often. Some of the more important ones are: Bugs exist in all software, not just open source. As long as you don't claim the software is more complete than it really is users will be happy to work around its limitations, safe in the knowledge that it is temporary.
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 * Early and frequent feedback from users
 * easy access to the latest and greatest features
 * Builds developer confidence
 * Shows genuine project activity
 * Manageable upgrade path for users

Release Early, Release Often is part of building a sustainable open source project, releases produce users, users sometimes become contributors, contributors make the project stronger. The downside of releasing early and often is that you need to manage your user expectations. Be clear about the true status of your release and make any known bugs clear in your documentation.
More on ReleaseEarlyReleaseOften.

There is more to open source than a licence. It is also a development methodology. This page links to various resources about different aspects of open source development.

TableOfContents(2)

Support

Documentation

Documentation is key to the success of your project. If your users can't use the software then they will simply leave. If your potential developers do not know how to contribute they simply won't bother.

Mailing Lists

Code Development

Version Control

UsingSubversion - Subversion is a very common version control system that allows multiple people to work simultaneously on the same documents and code.

SoftwarePatch - Working with patches

Team Communications

["SVN Commit Messages"] - SVN can send out emails on every commit, great for peer review and keeping up to date

IPR Management

ContributorLicenceAgreements - a contributor licence agreement helps ensure that all contributions to the project can legally be included

Build Automation

Dependency Management

ApacheIvy

Issue/Bug/Patch Tracking

Testing

Quality is key. This does not mean shipping without bugs, that is close to impossible, what it does mean is shipping with no known bugs (actually shipping early releases with known. but manageable bugs can be ok too). Testing is the way to ensure you are shipping (near) bug free code. Testing falls into two camps, user testing and automated testing. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

User Testing

Automated Testing

[http://tapestryjava.blogspot.com/2007/05/free-and-excellent-code-coverage-for.html EMMA] code coverage plugin for Eclipse

Release Early, Release Often

Open source development is all about attracting users and developers. It is therefore important to release the software early, and as frequently as possible. Many people have difficulty with this concept, asking questions like "won't users be put off by the bugs?" Well, no, that is the point of open source, we are honest about our bugs and, if it really bothers you, you can fix it yourself (or pay someone to fix it).

Bugs exist in all software, not just open source. As long as you don't claim the software is more complete than it really is users will be happy to work around its limitations, safe in the knowledge that it is temporary.

More on ReleaseEarlyReleaseOften.

Release Management

["Release Management"]

[wiki:ReleasingOpenSourceSoftware Releasing Open Source Software]

[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Release_Management_method Wikipedia on Release Management Method]

[http://www.ics.uci.edu/~wscacchi/Papers/Open-Source-Research/OSSE3-Erenkrantz.pdf Release Management Within Open Source Projects by Justin R. Erenkrantz]

[http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/Software-Release-Practice-HOWTO/ Software Release Practice HOWTO by Eric Steven Raymond]

Release Packaging

You should make the installation of your software as easy as possible, ideally users should be able to download and install from a binary, whilst developers should have a clear document describing how to configure their environment.

Installers

IzPack - an installer generator for the Java platform.

Related Documents

OpenSourceDevelopmentInAction - a few examples of how doing it right saves time and effort later

OSSWatchWiki: OpenSourceDevelopment (last edited 2013-04-15 13:56:17 by localhost)

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