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Managing opensource for e-participation

29. October 2009 – 17:41 by Peter Cruickshank

Over the last the last few days, I’ve been wondering how people involved in e-participation approach open source for their software. The rest of this post is taken up with a whole list of questions -  it’d be great to hear what people in our community think.

My starting point is an item Bengt Feil posted here last year: “Uniting the Open Source efforts in eParticipation”. Some of the responses at the time were interesting - but I’m not sure if any clear conclusion emerged, so I thought I’d raise the subject again.

As I see it, there are two issues to think about: First, what open source applications are there out there that can be used to support e-participation (eg Drupal, Wordpress, Joomla) - and I can see the need for a directory somewhere where people can their their usefulness in our field, and to discuss which modules and add-ins to use, and how to configure them.

It would be good to hear if there is conclusion on where the best catalog/rating system was. Have the DEMO-Net virtual resource centre’s list of tools or the FSF Directory which were mentioned in response to Bengt’s posting proved useful? What about using’s e-participation community or the European e-Participation portal?

Second, there is releasing new or specialist e-participation applications as opensource. This was the area I am most interested in right now.

In my limited experience, it can happen that a project (or vendor) say their code is opensource, but in practice it can be difficult to actually find the code to download…

(I should point out that there is no obligation to release opensource source-code to the general public: the EUPL/GPL only requires that the source code is supplied to people who pay for the application, so there is no legal issue here, just one of best practice)

I guess what I’m most interested in right now is this: where where should we as e-participation practitioners and developers register or upload specialist OSS e-participation applications? To pick an obvious example, if code is aimed at European e-participation users, what do you think about the EUPL and using OSOR as a repository, is it just another a place to advertise your code, or would you make fuller use of it?

If not there, what would you use? Is it actually of any benefit for there to be access at the CVS/SVN level, or is it enough to just have a compiled package to download?

As a final point on managing the development and release of opensource application, the ‘single-vendor/commercial open source business model‘ as described by Dirk Riehle seems seems quite interesting as a way of bringing in the community while also allowing a development company to retain a revenue stream. Have you heard of it? What do you think?

That will do for now - I’m trying to give myself a crash-course where our (e-p) community is going with opensource, and to get an idea how important it really is to us in practice.

I’d appreciate any comments or examples of what’s worked for you.