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Starting Projects at Tips and Tricks

Posted by marinasum on June 27, 2005 at 2:13 PM PDT

A lead software engineer at British Aerospace (BAE) Systems, David Walend has found publicizing projects at a worthwhile experience. Compared to a couple of other open-source sites he worked with before, he's found the community helpful, positive, and friendly. No hostile flames here, merely constructive suggestions and comments. David attributed that to an attitude that trickles down from the top as a result of seamless collaboration among CollabNet, O'Reilly, and Sun.

Getting started is as easy as pie. Just click Request a Project under Get Involved on the left nav of Take four simple steps and fill out two forms, and you'll be on your way.

Some tips from David to make your experience a smooth sail--

* Choose your community: Click Communities at the top of, which then takes you to the Community page with a list of the existing communities on the right. Pick one that's of relevance to your project.

* Give your project a meaningful name: Pick something intuitive and easy to remember, for example, HSQLDB for an SQL database. You might also wish to include a spec name as part of the name. As a safeguard, do a Google search and verify whether your name is unique.

* Make your code available as soon as possible: Remember that code release is your goal. So use CVS, organize your directory structure, hack up an index.html page, and check in your code at the earliest opportunity. Don't overtweak: Perfect is the enemy of good.

* Write "kind" code: As a guide to your audience, publish overview.html and package.html pages and use Javadoc to document APIs. Adopt solid exception handling and logging. Use null to mean "not initialized yet."

* Provide binaries for download: The .jar format is ideal for bundling files. Beware of capacity limits of the cvs/www and Documents and Files directories.

* Let the world know! Coordinate with your community leader and solicit a link from the project home page. You'll find announcement mailing lists and other related information readily available: Just click Publicize Your Project under Get Involved on the left nav of

So, have a whirl! Sharing software is absolutely the right thing to do.

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