Personal Letter from ROS-Industrial Founder Shaun Edwards


After 11 years, I have decided to leave Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). It has been an incredible ride. I have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of robotics projects. I’ve worked on some of the largest robots in the world, as well as the most advanced autonomous vehicle technologies. And while it probably goes without saying on this blog; I was part of the team that launched the ROS-Industrial project. I can honestly say that Southwest Research is one of the best places to work (seriously…would your boss let you work at a Silicon Valley incubator with the goal of developing software that you just plan to give away…well mine did!).

Despite this, there are some opportunities that I have not been able to pursue in my role at SwRI. Over the past 5 years, I have promoted ROS-Industrial for new applications in the industrial robotics market. While we’ve had some success with early adopters (you know who you are – thanks for your support), it’s now time for me to fully invest myself in such an endeavor. In the coming weeks, I will be officially joining early ROS-Industrial supporter, Erik Nieves, and the team at PlusOne Robotics. PlusOne Robotics is still in stealth mode, but we plan to utilize ROS-Industrial to enable “new” collaboration between industrial robots and people in logistics applications.

I’m very excited about this opportunity, but I realize this raises some obvious questions about my role within ROS-Industrial. While things will change, nothing will change overnight. Myself, SwRI, and all the ROS-Industrial developers are committed to seeing ROS-Industrial continue on and flourish.

One of the greatest aspects of open source development is that participation is not limited to what company for which you work, but rather the value of your sweat equity. My plan is to continue my leadership role, facilitating technical planning and organization, maintenance, and community building, within ROS-Industrial as an employee of PlusOne. I endorse and support SwRI’s continued role within ROS-Industrial. As a non-profit, I believe SwRI’s leadership is essential to balancing the needs of ROS-Industrial’s stakeholders. I have been lucky to work with some great developers at SwRI, and I’m excited to see who replaces me in the near future. Without access to SwRI’s robotics facilities, I will inevitably have to transfer some package maintenance responsibilities. These maintenance responsibilities will be transferred over the next few months. If all goes as planned, then I expect this change will be mostly transparent to the ROS-Industrial community.

In closing, I’d like to reiterate my appreciation for Southwest Research Institute and the ROS-Industrial community.

If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at

Google Summer of Code Project - ROS Interface for Impedance/Force Control

Submitted by: Risto Kojcev, IIT and Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna

As part of Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2016 directed by the Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) and ROS-Industrial (ROS-I) Consortium, we have developed a user friendly ROS Interface to control and change a manipulator into Cartesian Impedance control mode. The external forces that the robot applies to the environment can also be set with the developed interface.

Below are some of the technical details and relevant repositories that were developed as part of this project.

Our first goal was to create a set of common messages containing the necessary parameters for setting Impedance and Force control. This allows interaction between the ROS ecosystem and the ROS driver of the robot. The messages are created based on the commonly used parameters for Impedance/Force control and discussion with the ROS community. The relevant current set of ROS messages are available in the majorana repository. I would also like to encourage the Robotics community to contribute to this project by sharing their suggestions. I believe that this set of messages could still be more generalized and improved based on community input.

The second goal was to develop a user interface which allows the user to set the necessary parameters for Cartesian Impedance/Force Control and interactively switch between control modes. In this case I have expanded previous GSoC 2014 Project: Cartesian Path Planner Plug-In for MoveIt!. The updated plugin now contains the relevant UI fields for setting Cartesian Impedance and Force Control. Depending on the implementation and the properties of the robot controller, this plugin also allows interactively switching between control modes during runtime.

I would like to share my gratitude for the ROS-I community members and my mentor Shaun Edwards, who shared their suggestions during the project development. I hope that this project will find its place in many applications.

Relevant links:

3D Automatic Path Planning for Surface Grinding

Submitted by: Victor Lamoine, Institut Maupertuis

The Bezier library is a ROS tool that allows users to plan complex trajectories on 3D surfaces, and while it can be used for many purposes, it was created to generate 3D grinding trajectories. To demonstrate the usefulness of this library to industrials, we applied our latest developments on a demonstrator.

The demonstrator consists of a Fanuc robot with a grinding end effector and a table on which a shackle is laid and maintained in position. The robot first takes multiple scans with a 3D sensor to determine the position and orientation of the shackle. When the scan is over, the user can choose the grinding parameters and generate the trajectory. It is possible to simulate the trajectory before running it on the robot. The user is then able to launch the trajectory on the robot. All of these steps are summarized in this video:

This demonstrator was created as part of the Bezier project at the Institut Maupertuis. You can find more information about the Bezier library on the official repository.

Note that the library is modular and can be used for other tasks such as painting, deburring, 3D printing, or any other application that requires complex 3D path planning.

ROS-Industrial Job Opportunity at SwRI

Our team works on leading technologies in industrial robotics, and we are looking for talented and motivated candidates to join us. Do you want to work in a flexible and stimulating environment on diverse technical challenges in applied research and development? At SwRI, you will have the chance to provide technical leadership in the development and application of advanced robotic solutions for commercial and defense manufacturing clients; manage open source repositories and collaborate with international teams on open source development; design, build, debug and install industrial robotic and automation systems; develop and test new manufacturing and industrial processes; develop software for industrial controls and manufacturing systems; lead the preparation of proposals and cost estimates; interact with clients to promote new business and develop technical requirements; participate on and lead technical teams; and so much more. The possibilities are endless. Check out two job openings at SwRI: Research Engineer and Senior Research Engineer.


Requires a MS or PhD degree in Robotics, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or related field with at least a 3.5 GPA. Must have at least 5 - 15 years of experience with developing software and controls for robotics and automation and have experience with large scale C++ software development. Beneficial skills include: ROS (Robot Operating System) development, OpenCV and vision system development, optimal and search-based planning for high degree of freedom systems, open source software project management. Beneficial knowledge includes: industrial robotics, mobile robotics, 2D/3D computer vision, path planning for robotics, machine learning, optimization, perception/sensing for robot guidance, localization. Travel on an as needed basis to conduct project work. A valid/clear driver's license is required.

Special Considerations:

Applicant selected will be subject to a government security investigation and must meet eligibility requirements for access to classified information. Applicant must be a U.S. citizen.

Job Locations: San Antonio, Texas

Interested? Please apply here:

No advanced degree? Check out:

RIME-MII Federal Funding Opportunity

The US Department of Defense is sponsoring the 8th Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which will focus on collaborative robotics. Below, you will find a summary of the Federal Funding Opportunity, which we quote from proposer’s day invitation website:

“The Manufacturing Innovation Institutes (MII) bring together industry, institutions of higher education (four- and two-year universities, community colleges, technical institutes, etc.), and federal and state agencies to accelerate innovation by investing in industrially relevant manufacturing technologies with broad applications. The MIIs help bridge the gap between basic/early research and product development by developing and scaling critical technologies in the manufacturing readiness level 4 to 7 ranges. These MIIs are to provide shared assets to help companies – particularly small manufacturers – access cutting-edge capabilities and equipment, creating an unparalleled environment to educate and train students and workers in advanced manufacturing skills. Each Institute is to have a specific technical or market focus, serving as a regional hub of manufacturing excellence, providing the critical infrastructure necessary to create a dynamic, highly collaborative environment spurring manufacturing technology innovations and technology transfer leading to production scale-up and commercialization…”

“The Government intends for this FOA to support the establishment of a RIME-MII to advance state-of-the-art application of collaborative robotic technologies in manufacturing environments. The motivation for the RIME-MII is to increase U.S. competitiveness in robotics applied primarily in manufacturing environments by 1) encouraging the development and scale up for commercialization of critical enabling technologies such as human-robot/robot-robot collaboration; perception and sensing; robotic control: adaptation, learning, and repurposing; autonomy and mobility; and, dexterous manipulation; 2) establishing common standards and testing protocols allowing the integration of multiple robotics technologies; 3) creating a robotic technology solution repository (to include modeling tools, databases, catalogue of technology demonstrations and concept sharing mechanisms ); and 4) providing workforce training and education programs to ensure the U.S. workforce can effectively collaborate with robots in a broad spectrum of manufacturing environments.”

We believe that it is not a coincidence that the objectives of RIME-MII align so well with the goals and vision of ROS-Industrial software project and its supporting consortium, which include:

  • Supporting advanced robotics capabilities for manufacturing
  • Standardizing interfaces for cross-platform compatibility
  • Modularizing and scaling components to larger systems
  • Enabling collaborative development environment
  • Developing the workforce through training curriculum and hands-on classes
  • Transferring technology via open source license
  • Providing affordability for small and medium enterprises

The ROS-Industrial Consortium Americas is supportive of teams who are willing to include ROS-Industrial among their technical thrusts. Along the same lines, we believe that the ROS-Industrial project stands to benefit from the involvement of the greater manufacturing industry in the RIME-MII. We invite industry to reach out to proposing teams to learn more and to choose to be involved to support the open solution for advanced robot software: ROS-Industrial.

Need a connection to a proposing team? Please contact ROS-Industrial Consortium Program Manager Paul Hvass:

Series on ROS-Industrial Development Process - Contribution


We often receive questions from those unfamiliar with open-source development about what process we follow to ensure the quality of the ROS-Industrial software. The process we utilize (see figure above) is probably not that different from any large software project. The main differences being that the team is made up of many different stakeholder (for lack of a better term) and any stackeholder is welcome to contribute. With this open model, one might assume we have more checks in place to intercept "bad" contributions, but in practice that's not required. We utilize the same checks for our open source projects as we would for any project. Specifically, all code is verified at multiple steps in the process. Contributions from trusted sources as well as unknown sources are given the same level of scrutiny. This is the beginning a multiple-post series detailing the ROS-Industrial process, with our first post focusing on contributing software changes and fixes.


ROS-Industrial is a community project. We welcome contributions from any source, from those who are extremely active to casual users. The following sections outline the steps on how to contribute to ROS-Industrial. It assumes there is an existing repository to which one would like to contribute (item 1 in the figure above) and one is familiar with the git "Fork and Branch" workflow, detailed here.

  1. Before any development is undertaken, a contributor would communicate a need and/or issue to the ROS-Industrial community. This can be done by submitting a bug to the appropriate github repo, the issues repo, or by emailing the users group. Doing so may save you time if similar development is underway and ensure that whatever approach you take is acceptable to the community of reviewers once it is submitted.
  2. The second step (item 2 in the figure above) is to implement your change. If you are working on a code contribution, we highly recommend you utilize the ROS Qt-Creator plugin. Verify your change successfully builds and passes all tests.
  3. Next, push your changes to a "feature" branch in your personal fork of the repo and issue a pull request (PR)(item 3). The PR allows maintainers to review the submitted code. Before the PR can be accepted, the maintainer and contributor must agree that the contribution is implemented appropriately. This process can take several back and forth steps (see example). Contributors should expect to spend as much time reviewing/changing the code as on the initial implementation. This time can be minimized by communicating with the ROS-Industrial community before any contribution is made.

Next week we will continue the series on the topic of ROS-I Maintainers…

Brian Gerkey (OSRF) Intro to ROS Presentation from the ROS-I APAC Workshop in Singapore

We were fortunate to have OSRF represented at the ROS-Industrial Asia Pacific Workshop, which was hosted by ARTC and NTU in Singapore this July. Thanks Brian and Morgan! If you haven't seen a recent presentation about ROS and the community of ROS users, Brian's presentation was for you (refer to video below). For more about the workshop check out this blog post.

Upcoming Event: World MoveIt! Day

Submitted by: Dave Coleman, University of Colorado Boulder


Join us August 23rd, 2016 for an international hackathon to improve the MoveIt! code base, documentation, and community. Following the heels of the repo merge, we hope to fix all broken links in the documentation, close as many longstanding pull requests and issues as possible, and have some fun with a newly released integrated simulation of MoveIt! manipulation + Gazebo + Fetch for us to test. An hour long Q&A session is scheduled at 9am Pacific to allow the community to meet the people merging their pull requests.

We will be having several event locations including:

  • ROS Industrial at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. Contact: Paul Hvass
  • Fetch Robotics in San Jose, California. Contact: Michael Ferguson
  • Xamla Robotics Team at Provisio GmbH in Münster, Germany. Contact: Andreas Köpf
  • JSK at the University of Tokyo in Tokyo, Japan. Contact: Kei Okada

If you aren’t near an organized event we encourage you to have your own event in your lab/organization/company and video conference in to all the other events. We would also like to mail your team or event some MoveIt! stickers to schwag out your robots with.

For more details, see the event page.

PackML Initiative for ROS-I

Submitted by: Lex Tinker-Sackett, Mfg Technology Specialist, 3M

PackML State Model (from the PackML Implementation Guide)

PackML State Model (from the PackML Implementation Guide)

ROS-Industrial is a foundational technology abstracting robot applications for industry. ROS-I runs on PC hardware (currently Linux based), which makes complete sense to the roboticist. To the manufacturing plant, however, the automation systems tend toward Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) hardware. Rockwell, Siemens, Mitsubishi and many other industrial vendors supply PLCs to factories all over the world. One challenge with PLC automation is developing complex manufacturing solutions for multiple vendors.

Bringing together hardware from multiple vendors using different technologies (heterogeneous machines) with a standard programming paradigm would simplify the problem. Fortunately, the ISA-88 standard includes a subset called PackML, which provides PLC programmers with a state machine (see Figure above) and messaging protocol that allows disparate machines to work together. As more and more robots are integrated into manufacturing environments, it makes sense to extend the PackML standard into the ROS-I world.

ROS-I and PackML are a natural fit for each other. Both create a new way to solve old problems. Under the ROS-I Consortium, a group is forming to create an open source C++ library (think Boost) to implement the PackML state machine abstraction for use in ROS-I. Integration of robots into complex manufacturing environments will be made simpler with the new ROS-I/PackML library.

To join future discussions about the PackML project for ROS-I, please email the ROS-I developer email list with your interest: swri-ros-pkg-dev [at sign]

Not already subscribed to the list? Please use this link to subscribe.

First ROS-Industrial Asia Pacific Workshop 2016

Submitted by: Nicholas Yeo, Technical Director, Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Center, Singapore

We just conducted our first ROS-Industrial Asia Pacific Workshop to a sell-out crowd. ROS enthusiasts from academia, research institutes, and industry participated in the event. We hosted a 2-day event on 14-15 Jul 2016 at the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre and Nanyang Technological University.

Along with exciting presentations and demonstrations of ROS-I, speakers from the local and international region discussed ROS-I and related topics.

With this, we are announcing the launch of a ROS-Industrial Consortium for the Asia Pacific region. ROS-Industrial Consortium Asia Pacific (RIC Asia Pacific) joins similar organization in Europe and the Americas to expand the outreach of ROS-I. We hope this will be one of the many events and opportunities that RIC Asia Pacific can bring to industrial communities in Asia to support future use of ROS-I in robotic applications.

To read the SwRI press release, please refer to this link.

MOU Signing ceremony represented (from left): Prof Chen I-Ming (NTU-MAE), Paul Hvass (SWRI),  Dr. DavidLow (CEO, ARTC)

MOU Signing ceremony represented (from left): Prof Chen I-Ming (NTU-MAE), Paul Hvass (SWRI),  Dr. DavidLow (CEO, ARTC)

ROS-I Consortium Managers (from left) -Mirko Bordignon (Fraunhofer IPA), Nicholas Yeo (ARTC), Paul Hvass (SwRI)

ROS-I Consortium Managers (from left) -Mirko Bordignon (Fraunhofer IPA), Nicholas Yeo (ARTC), Paul Hvass (SwRI)

Team Delft's ROS-I powered entry wins the APC 2016

We are happy to announce that Team Delft, a team of scientists and engineers from the TU Delft Robotics Institute and Delft Robotics, won the 2016 edition of the Amazon Picking Challenge which has just been held in Leipzig, Germany. The challenge, which you can read about here, aims to automate the "first and last miles of logistics". The task challenged robots to pick objects from containers and put them on shelves (the "stow task") and to pick objects from stocked shelves and put them into containers (the "pick task"). The variety of the objects and the unstructured environment still make this a considerably difficult task.

More information is available on RoboValley's announcement of the victory. Stay tuned for more in-depth posts going over the technical details of this ROS-Industrial success story!

RIC-Americas Meeting Recap (Part 2)

This post features Part 2 of our March RIC-Americas Meeting Recap. Click here to read Part 1, which is about the demonstration day.

In March, more than 50 attendees from 32 organizations attended the RIC-Americas annual meeting. During the meeting, we learned about progress during the past year, and heard from speakers including Morgan Quigley (OSRF), RIC-EU Program Manager Bordignon (Fraunhofer IPA), Nicholas Yeo Chang Yee (ARTC), and Erik Nieves (fmr. Yaskawa and now PlusOne Robotics).

Attendees of the RIC-Americas Meeting.

Attendees of the RIC-Americas Meeting.

Quigley provided an update on the progress of ROS 2.0 and presented the latest data on the performance of the real time capabilities, which includes improved performance of micro second level dither, even with some network congestion.

Bordignon inspired the audience with his presentation of the philosophy and progress of ROS software usage for industrial robotics in Europe, including a number of deployed or productized applications.

Yee shared a look into the modern and flourishing R&D capabilities for remanufacturing at ARTC, which is part of A*STAR in Singapore, and presented ARTC’s vision to launch RIC-Asia Pacific.

Nieves kept us guessing with a riveting story of his personal journey to embrace ROS as a representative of a major robot OEM, and then his venture into the world of supervised autonomy with his startup company PlusOne Robotics.

The attendees broke into four groups for roadmapping activities in a round robin fashion on four topics: motion planning, ease of use, hardware interfaces/interoperability, and ROS core. Five upcoming Focused Technical Projects (FTP):

  • Robotic Blending Milestone 4: Closing the Loop
  • Scan-N-Plan for X: A generalized framework for CAD-free
    high mix part processing
  • CAD-to-ROS Milestone 4: Calibration GUI
  • 6 DOF Slicer Milestone 2
  • NIST Agile Robotics for Industrial Automation Competition

The meeting generated momentum for the coming international expansion. Thanks to our members for your support and collaboration, and a special thanks to the emerging RIC-Asia Pacific for joining us.

Qt Creator IDE Plug-in for ROS

The ROS Qt Creator Plug-in is developed specifically for ROS to increase a developers' efficiency by simplifying tasks and creating a centralized location for ROS tools. Since it is built on top of the Qt Creator platform, users have access to all of its existing features like: syntax highlighting, editors (C++ , Python, etc.), code completion, version control (Git, Subversion, etc.), debuggers (GDB, CDB, LLDB, etc.), and much more.

The ROS Qt Creator Plug-in provides the following capabilities:

  • Import/Create Catkin Workspaces
  • Create Catkin Packages
  • Custom Build and Run Configuration
    • catkin_make (Debug, Release, Release with Debug Info, Minimum Size Release)
    • roslaunch
    • rosrun
    • sourcing workspace
      Note: The Qt Creator Plug-in supports multiple configurations to enable quick switching between configurations, and everything is saved.
  • Integrated Tabbed Terminal
  • Templates
    • Industrial Robot Support Package
    • Basic Launch File
    • Basic URDF File
    • Basic Node File
      Note: Users may create custom templates.

Check out two videos (below). The first (left) is a short overview of the Qt Creator and its default capabilities. The second video (right) is an overview of the ROS Qt Creator Plug-in developed by Levi Armstrong from Southwest Research Institute. It concludes with an invitation for other to begin using the plug-in for ROS development.

ROS-Industrial at RoboBusiness Europe 2016

The European edition of RoboBusiness is growing and quickly becoming an interesting event for "all things robotics" in Europe, from innovative research to new products. Following ROS-Industrial's participation at last year's edition, we had a strong presence at the event which took place June 1-3 in Odense, Denmark.

As RIC-EU Program Manager I presented "ROS-Industrial: bringing open-source robotics innovation to the factory floor". In the same track, Prof. Martijn Wisse from TU Delft, scientific advisor to RIC-EU, spoke about "Increasing the application of robotics and automation in EU". Together we conveyed the concept of using the ROS-Industrial platform as 1) a technology enabler to cross the "valley of death", i.e., the gap between the level of technical maturity at which academic research can bring robot technology and the level required to start its industrial application and commercialization; and 2) an open-source accelerator for the development of advanced robotic applications. As the platform evolves and incorporates new features, it can become for robotics something akin to what Android is for smartphones, that is, a very powerful technology enabler. ROS and ROS-Industrial are now on the radar of most actors in the robotics arena, so ROS(-I)'s maturation into the de-facto standard open-source software platform for robotics is well underway.

ROS-Industrial was also well represented at the exhibition. RIC-EU member BlueWorkforce showcased its Ragnar robot and platform, while Team Delft demonstrated their ROS-I powered entry to the 2016 Amazon Picking Challenge, which has just four weeks to go until the competition takes place in Leipzig, Germany. Best of luck, Team Delft!

It is remarkable that Henrik Christensen, professor at Georgia Tech and director of the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, mentioned ROS-Industrial as a noteworthy initiative which he praised as an effort towards much-needed standardization of robotics software. Such standardization is a necessary prerequisite to enable more and more advanced applications of robotics technology.

See you at RoboBusiness Europe 2017, April 20-21 in Delft, the Netherlands!

Legal aspects and best practices of open-source

On April 19-20 Fraunhofer IPA hosted an event organized in collaboration with euRobotics AISBL on the best practices and legal aspects of Open-Source Software (OSS) in robotics and automation. The rationale behind the event was that while OSS is an established and accepted factor in "software-heavy" business domains like enterprise IT systems and smartphones, its inner workings are less understood in industries where software in now shifting from a component with ancillary role to one with high added-value. With the changes poised to happen in industrial robotics and automation by the advances in robotics science on one hand (just think of the progress in autonomous driving and its underpinning achievements in perception, planning, control) and by government-mandated initiatives like Industrie4.0 on the other, the ROS-Industrial team believes that OSS is a great opportunity to accelerate this process. However, to foster its adoption we understandably need to identify and clear also non-technical obstacles such as possible legal, economic and regulatory aspects.

During the event the speakers described to the audience how OSS is already part of established business practices at large companies in the industrial domain; how digital economies are being shaped thanks also to OSS; which regulatory and legal aspects we need to take into account in terms of safety standards, licensing and compliance processes.

Takeaway messages that we want to highlight as they are instrumental in removing unfounded but long-standing critiques of OSS for industrial robots and machinery are:

  • the kind of functionalities that ROS is typically used for, and which sit at the OS/middleware and the application software levels, can be carried out by non-certified software as they live in a "sandbox" protected by the underlying safety-compliant foundation and which includes the electrical/mechanical and safety device/PLC level layers. As I like to say, we do not necessarily aim to replace the software in your robot's control box with ROS (although the software to do that is available), but rather to provide higher-level functionalities like perception-driven, online trajectory generation to let the robot operate in dynamic environments, thing not possible (or very difficult to perform) with the limited sets of preprogrammed motions typical of current automation
  • OSS has a long history of adoption in industrial automation; Linux (especially Linux RT) is a good example of this, and shows that using OSS in commercial products is not only possible, but also beneficial
  • having a compliance process in place (e.g. OpenChain) can ensure that licensing matters are properly dealt with

Given the interest and the feedback collected after the event, we plan on following-up on these topics at the ROS-Industrial Conference next fall, whose program will be made available in the coming weeks.

Things I Learned at OSCon 2016

Last week I had the pleasure of attending OSCon held in Austin, TX. OSCon has been around since 1999 and is a great conference for all things open source. More information on the conference can be found here. Overall the conference was educational and extremely motivational. I intend to regularly attend OSCon and I would recommend it to my colleagues in the open source robotics community. Below are things I learned from OSCon

  • A Historical Perspective
    Open source is not a new idea. According to wikipedia the idea of open source was hatched in the late 1990s. Before open source, there was free software which originated in the 1970s and 80s. For many of us, this history is unknown. We just accept that open source has been adopted by industry, but lack an appreciation for what it took to get it there. Danese Cooper's talk provided a great perspective on this history. The early trailblazers in the open source and free software movements deserve our admiration and respect. This historical perspective is also reassuring to those of us in the Industrial market. We are fighting some of the same battles that were fought early on in the IT market. While ROS-Industrial enjoys the support of the ROS-Industrial Consortium, there are still many industrial companies that remain unconvinced or unsupportive. The acceptance, and some might say dominance of open source in the IT market, illustrates what is possible when early adopters are relentless. It's also much easier when we can point to examples in the IT space, where open source has had a tremendous impact. I can't imagine the hurdles open source encountered in the early days. Imagine convincing businesses, who valued software so greatly, that giving it away is better for the common good and the bottom line. A sincere thank you to those who blazed the trail before us.
  • Building an Open Source Community
    The "Optimizing your project for contribution" presentation by Josh Matthews was perhaps the single most important presentation for me. Josh outlined 5 steps to build your community and make it easier for developers to contribute. These five steps are:
    1. Prioritizing useful information - Document your software and the contribution process from the point of view of a "newbie".
    2. Reducing friction - Make it easy to contribute. Don't make people jump through hoops unnecessarily.
    3. Making expectations clear - Set the expectations for not only contributions, but the review process in general. Provide a timeline for acceptance.
    4. Responding appropriately - Acknowledge every contribution. Contributions take time, and we should consider this when critiquing or requesting changes.
    5. Following through - Follow your own process. Deadlines in particular are of utmost importance. Responding to contributions immediately significantly increases the likelihood of follow on contributions (which ensures your community will grow).
      In the month's to come we will be implementing these ideas in ROS-Industrial. Great things are coming...
  • Open Source Participation is Still Hard for Companies
    While use of open source software has largely been accepted by companies, participation is still difficult. Participation includes everything from financial support to actively committing source code and interacting with the community. Financial support, as we have found with ROS-Industrial is probably the easiest form of support. While financial support is appreciated, and certainly needed, the greatest value of open source is only realized by participating. Participation has several hurdles, not the least of which are legal and IP related. Companies need processes in place to manage open source contributions. The processes need to protect the company while minimizing hurdles to contributing. How do companies create this the open of course. The TODO group, which stands for "Talk openly, develop openly" was organized for companies to cooperatively develop practices for contributing to open source and sharing experiences.
  • Community Leadership Summit
    This summit is held before OSCon. One of the reasons I attend OSCon was to get ideas for how to lead and grow the ROS-Industrial community. Just about everyone I talked to recommended I attend the Community Leadership Summit. The summit is always held before OSCon. It brings together community leaders across the open source world to discuss strategies for building communities. I won't miss this next year.
  • Thank You Lawyers
    I attended several presentations on the legal aspects of open source. We owe a debt of gratitude to lawyers at the OSI, Apache Foundation, and others for ensuring the open source software will remain open and protected from legal claims. They have ensured that the idea of open source and the true intent of developers is protected.