[OOTB-hive] Community contributions to Alfresco Software - Can OOTB make sure it is properly rewarded?

Richard Esplin richard.esplin at alfresco.com
Thu Aug 21 19:06:23 BST 2014

This mailing list has been very active, and I haven't kept up. But I want to 
make sure to address Peter's concerns.

There are multiple issues here that need to be handled separately. I hear 
these concerns on a regular basis, both inside and outside of the company. I 
know that Peter is an understanding guy, so I will respond in a general way. 
This is going to be a lengthy response, but I hope it is useful.

1) Contribution to Community Edition Going in to Enterprise Edition

You need to make sure that the license you pick for your code represents your 
interests. Once that license is selected and you have distributed your code, 
people (including Alfresco) can use that code according to the terms of the 
license. This is true for the license Alfresco selects for Community Edition 
(and from which you benefit), and it is true for the open source code Alfresco 
includes in its products.

Open source is about cooperating in ways that are beneficial to everyone 
involved. If you want to exert control over your code, then you should use a 
proprietary license.

If you want Community Edition to be the best product possible, then you should 
be happy your contribution gets included.

If you want Alfresco to continue investing in engineers, testing, and planning 
around an open source content management repository, you should be glad that 
your contribution is making Enterprise Edition competitive enough to drive 

Sometimes people tell me that Alfresco should be giving away the results of 
their efforts, but simultaneously object to their contributions being used in 
accordance with the license they selected. As long as we respect the license 
of the code that is contributed, and then make that code available in our open 
source edition, I don't think complaining about not receiving enough 
compensation is useful.

That rant aside, Alfresco provides significant value in an open source product 
because we think it is good for our business. I also appreciate that it is 
good for society as a whole, but that isn't how the company makes decisions. I 
think most contributors also participate because they see personal value in 
that action. Peter's post recognizes that Community Edition represents a 
significant investment by Alfresco and is the basis for many of the good things 
we do as ECM professionals.

As our company has grown, it has been a challenge to educate everyone about 
open source. I regularly remind the company that we need to invest in 
Community Edition, or our open source developers won't want to contribute 
back. We understand that you contribute because you want your contribution to 
benefit you in Community Edition, and we need to honor your trust. If you are 
aware of a community contribution that gets included in Enterprise Edition, 
but is not also available in Community Edition, then please let me know.

My goal is to get Alfresco to accept more contributions and accelerate our 
efforts. Accepting a community contribution needs to be easier than negotiating 
a license to a proprietary library, or it is unlikely to make it into 
Community Edition.

2) Collaboration with Contributors

In their rush to get things done, the Engineering team doesn't always 
communicate with upstream developers (or even with the rest of their team). 
This is a recognized problem and we are trying to address it.

I apologize for the problems this causes. As you alert me to challenges, I 
will work with the developers to help them understand how to better 

3) Recognition for Contributions

We need to do better at recognizing contributions that we accept. 

I have been trying to keep a list of major contributions here:


If you are aware of a contribution that I missed, I would appreciate you 
listing it (I just added Peter). Please add links to your home pages.

We also want to make it easier to track the reputation of a community 
contributor. It should be easy for the support and engineering teams to know 
when they are dealing with someone who deserves special attention due to their 
history of participation. This is a long term effort.

4) Passes to Alfresco Summit

I apologize for the mess around community passes for Alfresco Summit. Jeff and 
I handed out the passes months ago, but I haven't checked to see what has been 
used and what I should still give away. This is an item that got dropped 
during the transition of responsibilities from Jeff to me.

There are not very many free passes to give away. Summit is an expensive 
event, and the passes do not cover the cost of attendance. The event only 
works because of sponsorships and a significant investment by Alfresco. So 
giving a pass to someone who would otherwise pay (or have their employer pay) 
directly impacts how much money we can spend on the event.  I sincerely 
believe that the value provided by Alfresco Summit exceeds the cost of the 
pass. The free passes that we have included in the budget need to be used for 
maximum community benefit.

Peter cited a few of the reasons why that is difficult to determine. The 
European community has more participants than in the Americas, but the pool of 
passes is the same. We want to both reward long term participants, and 
recognize the efforts of new community members. We want some passes to go to 
contributors in diverse ways: forums, StackOverflow, wiki, IRC, code 
contributions, translations, etc. We don't want the same people to get all the 
passes every year.

Perhaps the Order of the Bee can help us figure out the best way to do this 
next year.

As for this year, we have already handed out all of the community passes to 
Summit in London. I still have a few for San Francisco, and would appreciate 
ideas for who can use them (off list).

I have not yet confirmed that the passes I distributed have been used, so I 
might have additional passes become available. If receiving assistance on a 
Summit pass will make the difference between you attending or not, and you can 
make last minute plans to come, then I can add you to a waitlist. Please 
contact me off list.

5) Conclusion

Thank you Peter for expressing your concerns in an understanding way. I am 
very sympathetic to most of your concerns and I agree they need to be 

I hope my response not only addresses your specific concerns, but is helpful in 
guiding other contributors. I would like to see ideas of how the Order of the 
Bee can help address issues around contributions.


Richard Esplin
Head of Community
Tel: +1 801 855 0866
Mobile: +1 801 735 4220
Skype: esplinr

Simple + Smart

alfresco.com | twitter.com/alfresco | facebook.com/alfrescosoftware | 
blogs.alfresco.com | linkedin.com/company/alfresco | youtube.com/alfresco101

Join us at Alfresco Summit | San Francisco, Sep 23-25 | London, Oct 7-9 | 

On Thursday, August 21, 2014 11:00:02 Peter Löfgren wrote:
> I would like to bring up another topic where I think that OOTB can help
> monitor the interests of the Community, and that is for Contributors to
> Alfresco core.
> There are two parts of this, one is that your code is used in open source
> Alfresco, but it will also be used by the company Alfresco Software Ltd in
> its commercial Enterprise edition and cloud offerings.
> So what can one reasonably expect in terms of payments and rewards for a
> contribution used by a commercial company? There are of course minor
> contributions like a patch or simple code fix. But other times there are
> more major ones, and for me this was the PdfJS viewer (created by me and
> Will Abson) that are from 5.0 standard in Alfresco. For this I have not
> received anything more than a mention in a blog post and listing in the
> about box.
> I must admit that I had no idea on what to expect, but I have for other
> years at least received a free pass to Summit for my Community
> contributions. This year nothing, and I understand that Richard only has a
> certain number of free passes, and he has to pass the grace to others. I
> agree on that when he has a limited numbers of free passes, there are some
> great Community contributors that I agree this year must be rewarded.
> I certainly hope this does not come out as being greedy or whiny, this is
> not what it is all about. I can make a living out of selling services using
> Alfresco Community, so I'm very well aware of that I'm already getting
> something from Alfresco Software Ltd without paying them any. And in my
> particular example we also for PdfJS viewer made use of an external library
> pdf.js from Mozilla. So it is complicated who should be rewarded. It just
> made me thinking of what the OOTB can do to help assuring the interest of
> the Community Contributors to commercial Alfresco.
> I do not know what is custom when a commercial interest make use of a
> contribution. Maybe money never change hands. Or maybe I should have asked
> for more. But there is other ways to reward that do now involve money. For
> example a page listing official contributors, with a link to my web (good
> for page ranks -> value), and easy when I claim to be a contributor to to
> link to that page so it can be verified.
> Along the line on this is a page on Alfresco Official website with this and
> previous years Community Stars, little bit off topic for my post, but
> something I see will bring value to those being acknowledged by Alfresco.
> So can OOTB put up something on the web on what a community contributor
> should require, recommended steps to take, and expect in return. Of course
> every case will be unique, but I'm thinking establishing some sort of a
> baseline.
> Peter Löfgren, Loftux AB

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