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OSAF Corporate FAQ
Background information and answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about OSAF.
-- updated 2/23/2004
OSAF is the Open Source Applications Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation. OSAF's mission is to create and gain wide adoption of Open Source application software of uncompromising quality. <top>
OSAF's main office is located at 543 Howard St., Suite 500, San Francisco CA 94105. Most of the application development is currently done in this location although we are beginning to expand to employing remote engineers and have one full-time person in Seattle.<top>
Mitchell Kapor founded OSAF. He wrote about the "Origins of the Open Source Applications Foundation" in his weblog on Oct. 17, 2002:
OSAF started in 2001 when Mitchell Kapor began to investigate the possibility of developing a modern Personal Information Manager using open source tools and methods.
In the spring of 2001, Mitch initiated a limited experiment by hiring a consulting group to prototype a couple of the key ideas. The results were both exciting and encouraging, and so, in the summer of 2001, he took the plunge, committed to open source, and hired the first employee of a fledgling non-profit, the Open Source Applications Foundation, with the mission to create and gain wide adoption of open source application software of uncompromising quality. In February 2002, OSAF obtained Federal 501c3 nonprofit status. <top>
Mitchell Kapor manages the day to day operations of OSAF. The OSAF board of directors is comprised of:
Mr. Kapor provided the initial commitment of $5 million for the foundation.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided a $98,000 grant in March 2003 to investigate whether Chandler could be extended to meet higher education needs. That study determined the additional requirements for implementing a higher education version of Chandler.
Subsequent grants in September 2003-- $1.5 million from the Mellon Foundation and $1.25 million from the 25 university members comprising the Common Solutions Group – will supplement OSAF’s initial funding of $5 million, and willenable OSAF to complete the development of this additional functionality for Chandler by the end of 2005.
In addition OSAF receives smaller cash donations from many individuals. <top>
OSAF was incorporated as a non-profit public corporation in the State of CA on May 30, 2001. In February 2002, OSAF obtained Federal 501(c)3 nonprofit status. <top>
As of August 2005, there are 23 people working full-time or mostly full-time on Chandler. Our intent is to keep the core team small, but to leverage their work by using the resources of the worldwide open source community to augment the core team efforts. <top>
OSAF has received the benefit of hundreds of members of the open source community who have contributed to the Chandler project through our design and development mailing lists and the Chandler Wiki, a collaborative communications tool. Currently, at the end of August 2005, there are just a handful of volunteer developers working with the core development team, but as the code base becomes more stable, we expect that number to increase significantly. <top>
We expect to add a few more members to the core team of employees in San Francisco after mid-2005. We are also preparing to engage active open source developers, testers, documenters, etc. at the end of 2005. <top>
Although we don't have a formal statement regarding organizational values we could say that OSAF values collaboration between highly motivated individuals who bring a passion for excellence, commitment to high standards of performance and quality of product, a capacity for creativity, and respect for others and their differences to their work.
We hold ourselves and others to standards of honesty, fairness, and accountability in our dealings.<top>
Mitch is working on Chandler as a full-job. He provides the team with vision and guidance. And in his duly elected role as benign-dictator he fills the difficult role of decision maker in a highly collaborative effort. <top>
While OSAF does not have a formal technical board of advisors, OSAF gets useful technical advice from hundreds of participants on the OSAF design and development mailing lists. There is a Westwood Advisory Council with representatives from the higher education sector who provide advice on the development of the higher education version of Chandler. <top>
OSAF will post the first public release (rel 0.1) of the Chandler code in April 2003. In the "dot releases" (0.1-0.5 release), we will focus on designing and building the base platform and infrastructure (e.g. data repository, storage, viewer parcel, application framework, etc.) since open source developers need a minimum set of supporting platform functionality in order to develop their own functionality. Our landmark compelling "must-have" features will be discontinuous innovations of Chandler and will require multiple iterations of testing and usage to determine the right design (e.g. data model, Agenda-like Outline Table Widget, Sharing/Collaboration features).
From the beginning, Chandler will have a modular or extensible architecture which will allow open source developers to contribute modules and code in a loosely coupled fashion. These early releases will incrementally provide the basic elements of end-user applications (email, contacts and calendar) to drive and validate the design and testing of the core code. <top>
The target user for Chandler is someone who has a great deal of information in the form of email, contacts, calendar events, and other notes and who needs a tool to help sort through and expeditiously retrieve the relevant bits. Chandler will take advantage of the interdependence of intermodal information to help for example, find a spreadsheet email attachment that came from someone, whom you can't remember, who invited you to a meeting you attended last June.
Our organizational focus will be peer-to-peer (largely decentralized) groups of such info-centric users. As the term ‘info-centric’ can be rather generic, we refer to an info-centric user as one with the following important characteristics:
OSAF is a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation. It received an initial $5 million commitment from Mr. Kapor. Support for open source development from institutions -- like the $98,000 grant we received in March 2003, and the subsequent $2.75 million grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the 25 universities in the Common Solutions Group-- are significant in ensuring sustainability of a non-profit open source endeavor like OSAF. Since the Chandler application will be distributed for free, OSAF actively seeks grants and donations to provide sustained future development and support.
OSAF’s mission is to create and gain wide adoption for software applications of uncompromising quality using open-source methods. This implies that first and foremost we will make our software available free-of-charge under free / open source licenses for those operating exclusively in those worlds.
We also believe that our software may be of interest to commercial entities that will want to combine Chandler code with other software, which may be either open source or proprietary software. We want to encourage commercial use and distribution of Chandler since these activities may provide a wider market, additional functionality, more choices, and broader benefit for end users. Thus our software will also be available under a fee-based commercial license for those who wish to combine Chandler code with proprietary code. The potential revenue stream derived from the commercial licenses will be used to fund core development and maintenance of the open source code base. <top>
Since OSAF is a non-profit and will not seek an IPO, how much funding do you need in the future to keep the organization alive?
The initial commitment of $5 million from Mr. Kapor was intended to provide sufficient funding to take the development of Chandler through the end of 2005. We are still focused on our original target of supporting info-centric users, in small groups in a decentralized fashion.
In September 2003, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the 25 university members of the Common Solutions Group (CSG) agreed to provide OSAF a total of $2.75 million in grants. These additional funds will allow OSAF to extend the functionality of the Chandler software application to meet the information technology needs of higher education.
What types of donations is OSAF looking to attract and from what types of companies or organizations?
Since the Chandler application will be distributed for free, OSAF actively seeks grants and donations to provide sustained future development and support. We believe there will be multiple sources of income -- from corporate sponsorship to licensing fees to foundation support. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was the first institution to provide additional funds to support our work; see the Mellon Grant Announcement on the OSAF web site. <top>