Updated with more details about the organizations plans and criteria for joining.
Facebook has teamed up with Google, Twitter, Box, Github and a handful of other companies on a collaboration to “make open source easier for everyone.”
Most of the companies involved in the initiative not only use open source software, but also produce a ton of it, building tools to manage their own infrastructure and contributing the code to the open source community. The other initial participants are Dropbox, Khan Academy, Stripe, Square and Walmart Labs.
The organization will function as a clearing house of a kind. While there is a lot of open source software out there, not all of it is high quality and not all of it is regularly maintained. The open source projects the new organization is going to get involved with are going to be projects that have produced software that has been deployed in production at one of the companies on the list.
Jay Parikh, global head of engineering at Facebook, announced the program at the company’s @Scale conference in San Francisco. The conference’s theme is challenges of designing and operating data center infrastructure at web scale.
The new program, called TODO (talk openly, develop openly), aims to address challenges companies like Facebook and its partners face when using open source software. Facebook did not provide any specifics about TODO because it is in its very early stages – only a couple of weeks old, according to Parikh.
As James Pearce, head of open source at Facebook, put it in a blog post, “We want to run better, more impactful open source programs in our own companies; we want to make it easier for people to consume the technologies we open source; and we want to help create a roadmap for companies that want to create their open source programs but aren't sure how to proceed.”
One of the first and easiest tasks of the group will be creating a set of best practices around open source tools members have built or used. A project being on TODO's list is a statement that it has been used by one of the companies (successfully), Pearce said in a press Q&A session. It will act as a seal of approval in a way, he said.
While sharing of knowledge about open source tools between engineers at companies like Facebook and Google already happens ad hoc, TODO is also an opportunity for companies that are involved in open source but don't have the same contact networks to join those conversations.
Of course not everybody can join. At a minimum, a member company will have a dedicated open source office, Pearce said. "If you’re a one- or two-man company dong an iPhone app, [you're] probably not there yet," he said.
A website dedicated to the TODO program has been launched: http://todogroup.org/