Earlier today, I had a conversation with Alex Chriss and Alex Barnett of Intuit as they discussed the creation of code.intuit.com Intuit's open source community. This is a smart move and one that I'd suggested would be a welcome addition to IPP when we last spoke.
In essence, the community will serve as an extension to Intuit's R&D, providing Intuit with visibility into the types of extended application that are most likely to prove popular over time. I like that idea because it allows Intuit and its partners to both experiment and spread the risk associated with new product development. It also means that developers could have a potential exit should Intuit choose to acquire code.
This is not to be confused with a 'free' resource. Intuit is being proactive in how the community develops and so far has some 200 members. Projects will be mentored into the program in a manner similar to the way it works in the Apache Foundation. That means not all projects will make the cut though Intuit stressed they are trying to be as inclusive as possible. Internally, Intuit developers are said to be excited about the prospect.
Today, the community has some framework elements necessary to help onboarding. From the company's blog:
The initial Intuit-sponsored projects under Common Public License include:
IPP Developer Toolkits: Language-binding libraries and sample code for the Intuit Partner Platform. The toolkits under development include Java, J2ME, Ruby, .Net, iPhone™ and others.
IPP Federated Authentication: Working and sample code for Federated authentication for the Intuit Partner Platform using SAML.
Princeussie for Flex: Adobe® Flex® components which extend the existing Intuit Partner Platform Kingussie frameworks.
IPP Deployer: Maven and Ant tools for deploying Intuit Workplace applications. This project is in incubation.
Third-party developers are currently contributing code to the community. VerticalResponse has provided a sample Ruby SAML gateway that enables authentication between IPP and their application, VerticalResponse for Intuit Workplace.
Intuit says that it is leaving the development of UI in the hands of project committers. I'm not so sure this will work because UI is one of those areas that demands strong leadership. The company recognizes the risks but hopes that developers will see the rationale in maintaining a consistent UI approach.
This is an important development and one that has the potential to change the competitive landscape. Sage for instance has no comparable community. It also means that Intuit can encourage internationalization of its product, something it says is very much part of this strategy. Again, this is something I view as both useful and potentially disruptive. As always with new initiatives, we'll have to wait see ho w this one develops but if my read of the developer community is anywhere near accurate, both they and Intuit have much to gain.