InnerSource: A better way to work together on code

How using open source methods to develop proprietary software increases project efficiency, code quality, and developer happiness

InnerSource: A better way to work together on code

With the coronavirus COVID-19 taking the world by storm, and everyone tightening down in their bunkers, it seems like a good time to think about how we work together. Because of the virus, technology conferences have shuttered and even frequent office dwellers and meeting makers are learning how to work remotely. Open source software development is usually done remotely, so maybe by borrowing some of the methods of open source development, we can all find better ways to work together and stay connected?

I spoke with Danese Cooper about “InnerSource” or using open source methods to develop internal or proprietary software. Cooper is a technology executive, long time open source advocate and now president of the InnerSource Commons Foundation. 

(Disclosure: I served with Danese Cooper on the board of the Open Source Initiative and I have worked with her in other capacities. She describes us as frenemies.)

What is InnerSource?

InnerSource is so named to distinguish itself from open source. Unlike open source, InnerSource is developed inside your company. According to Cooper, “InnerSource is the use of open source methods inside the firewall in a proprietary company because it’s a better way to write software.” Some companies who learned how to collaborate using InnerSource also find that they can collaborate more publicly in open source.

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