Comparing the Eclipse Foundation with The Perl Foundation and EPO

In the recent days I looked around a bit, how other open source projects work and what do the respective foundations do.

Especially I looked at how the Eclipse Foundation is working. Clearly the Perl community is different from the Java community or the Eclipse community but we might learn a few things from the way they operate.

The Eclipse Foundation does not employ developers but they employ a full-time professional staff.

They provide four services. I'll try to describe the similar services provided either by The Perl Foundation, by EPO, the Enlightened Perl Organisation or by others in the Perl Community.

  • IT Infrastructure
    • The Perl community has certain servers (e.g. perl.org ) donated by some organizations and maintained by Robert and Ask on a volunteer base. Many other services are running on machines donated by other companies (e.g. perl5.git.perl.org was donated by Booking.com a major user of Perl). A lot of other services are running on machines financed by the developer herself or by various Perl Monger groups.
    • Smoke testing is done by many volunteers on their own machine.
    • What the Perl community is missing in this is a lot of other machines of the less common types (AIX, VMS, etc...) to run tests on and to help in development.
    • A central svn or git server might be also interesting.
  • Intellectual Property (IP) Management or in other words Legal services
    • The Perl Foundation employs a legal counselor (though I am not sure if that is for a fee or pro-bono).
    • They are mostly dealing with the Perl Trademark, the Artistic license and the copyright of Perl 5 and Rakudo. (Parrot is dealt by the Parrot Foundation)
    • The TPF does not provide legal assistance for the individual CPAN modules and their authors.
    • While there might not be many legal issues the Perl community needs to deal with it seems the allocated time is still not enough. I asked the TPF more than a year ago to provide an official wording that the CPAN module authors could put on their modules - (As I understand The licensed as Perl... is not really good and even that is not copy pasted correctly by some of us.). The need was acknowledged and some process was made but other legal issues were more important so there still is no official answer.
    • I don't know how important that is but maybe some (more ?) money should be spent on the legal issues.
  • Development Community Support
    • In this the Eclipse Foundation tries to streamline the development of the many sub-projects and organizes the release train which is an effort to release several projects at the same time.
    • I don't see any such need in the Perl community nor do I see any possibility to coordinate the development work of the thousands of volunteer developers in the 16.000 or so sub-projects.
    • In addition they help to implement the Eclipse Development Process.
    • I have not read through that but maybe the Perl community should look at that process and see what can we adopt.
    • The Eclipse Foundation ensures that all Eclipse projects are run in an open, transparent and meritocratic manner. This is something we need to adapt. There are too many things - some of them around the TPF some on the services in the Perl community - that are not open source and are not transparent. We should change this!
  • Ecosystem Development
    • Under this entry the Eclipse Foundation helps both the open source projects in the Eclipse Foundation and the commercial projects of the member companies in marketing their products. This includes among other things conference organizations, on-line catalogs and various marketing efforts.
    • The Perl community is doing quite a good job in organizing both local and international conferences but they are relatively small (300 people on YAPC::NA and YAPC::EU) and most of the people on these conferences are the same core developers. The conference are good to help the core developers but don't work too well in marketing Perl.
    • There are hackatons organized mostly by people from the community that too help the core developers.
    • The EPO has the Iron Man blogging Challenge which I believe is a good step in the direction of marketing Perl and the community.
    • What I think is really missing is professional marketing services. Maybe a marketing manager who can full-time work on marketing the Perl ecosystem.
    • It is nice that we try to market our language and our own projects but we do it only in our spare time which is little. We are also quite closed in our circles while we should reach outside of the core perl community. So I think it would be money well spent if the TPF or the EPO hired a full-time marketing professional to advance Perl and our projects.

I know some of you will disagree. That's a big part of what makes Perl and the Perl community to what it is. A diverse set of individuals with lots of different ideas about what and how.

So what do you think?

Published on 2009-06-13 by Gabor Szabo
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