One of the things we're trying to figure out at Osmosoft is, generally, how a company should behave when engaging in an open source project. The answer is more complex and interesting than at first it might seem - it depends on many factors, such as the size and maturity of both the company and the project, how many community members are on the payroll, the personalities at work, and so on. Plus these things tend to change over time.
In our case, it's a monster sized Enterprise getting into bed with a young and attractive starlet of an open source project - all the more reason for us to tread carefully and act responsibly.
I've occasionally asked different people what role they would like us to play in the community. Some say they'd like us to put pressure on the core developers to keep the updates coming through. Others say we should clean the figurative toilet, and do the jobs that developers might not enjoy (such as writing unit tests and doing cross browser analysis). On the whole we've tried to behave as though we're unpaid members of the TiddlyWiki community - tinkering with TiddlyWiki and sharing our stuff as we go along - while perhaps doing a little more toilet cleaning and core committer-hassling than the average community member.
We're always striving to improve, by the way, so if you have a view on this do please respond in the comments.
In any event, one piece of feedback we received is that we can help organise events and bring members of the community together in real life. We've already done this twice, at TiddlyAnniversary in September and TiddlyYuletide in December, both of which took place in London, and so, continuing the tradition of ridiculous event names, we were thrilled to co-host the latest event - TiddlyWest - in San Francisco last week.
The most valuable aspect of the event for me was a chance to meet our co-host, Eric Shulman, for the first time. Eric is something of a TiddlyWiki legend, having created more TiddlyWiki plugins than anyone else, and I'm sure everyone present found his presentation fascinating. No-one cared that his ten minute presentation took 40 minutes!
We also had a few luminaries from Silicon Valley in the room; Salim Ismail (formerly CEO of Yahoo! Brickhouse, and now working with us to get TiddlyWiki working with his Confabb website), Greg Wolff (President of UnaMesa, which holds the TiddlyWiki code in trust) and Paul Hammant (ThoughtWorks Senior Technical Architect) were all in the house.
Open source fans tend to have a broad set of unusual ideas and interests, and this certainly applied to Rich Shumaker, who demonstrated Contact Juggling at the event:
So when all is said and done, I'm hopeful that we've forged some connections between local TiddlyWiki users and ourselves, as well as helping create a few new fans along the way. And I was thrilled to read the positive feedback in the TiddlyWiki discussion forums.
Thanks are due in no small part to Kevin Werbach and the team at Wharton West, who kindly donated their space and their sandwiches for the event.
There's a full set of minutes, videos, links and photos on the Osmosoft website. And my set of photos can be seen here.