Successfully pulling code out of a big company can be like pulling the teeth off a lion, without anesthesia.
Sam Ramji (right), the former Microsoft executive who remains President of CodePlex, president of the CodePlex Foundation, which surrounds the Microsoft open source repository, said the key to success is a process.
CodePlex has published a draft of its process, a Project Acceptance Guideline, and is seeking comments from the community on it. The draft describes the advantages of contribution and provides a step-by-step guide for delivering new projects to CodePlex.
Ramji told ZDNet he's anxious to get community input into the Guideline and will take that input seriously. He wants CodePlex to become a bridge between the open source community and corporate interests.
"How do we solve the problem of corporate contribution to community projects?" he asked. "The barrier is comfort. That comes from a clearly understood process and a well understood mechanism so people see contributing as low risk."
Ramji said the Codeplex process says "here is how you should contribute in a way that's sustainable for you and safe for the developer. There should be derivative works with no concerns about patents."
CodePlex contributions come from software companies and non-industry sources, Ramji said. Software companies learn, through the CodePlex process, which elements of their IP are valuable and which are more valuable in the commons.
Then there are the non-industry contributions.
"Wall Street banks have talked to me over the last few months about contributions they couldn't get legal clearance on. CodePlex offers a template for how it can get done. We have an organization that can own the copyright, that can accept cash as well as code, and can do the community management."
In both these cases CodePlex is delivering code to the commons that might not be contributed otherwise, valuable code that can be used to build new applications.
"CodePlex is a lot of my future now," he said, even though he has left Microsoft to become vice president of strategy at Sonoa Systems, a cloud start-up.
And the work is gratifying. "The Foundation is growing pretty quickly in terms of input from community members and corporate interests."