Since publishing a personal New Year's resolution is something a great deal of bloggers do for a variety of reasons. I thought it appropriate to compile some hypothetical resolutions which could be made by the open source community based on what transpired in 2006 and what needs to be most strongly addressed in 2007. NOTE: This is NOT the result of a generally formed consensus, nor is it a poll based write-up.
Resolution #1: Enable ease of integration into enterprise stacks
There is a rapidly growing number of open source technologies that have found formal acceptance in production-level enterprise environments. Several of which are oftentimes used juxtapose with other common open source and proprietary products. Vendors such as SpikeSource and OpenLogic have established themselves as providers of certified software stacks that contain some of the more widely used open source applications, frameworks, infrastructure, etc. However, there is room at an individual project level for developing compatibility/stability indicators for closely related builds/versions of other software. It may sound trivial but it is a first step towards providing the types of explicit guarantees that are needed by larger, more established organizations who have a lower risk threshold. Verifying and standing by specific compatibility guarantees helps inspire confidence that translates into an increased ease of integration. Most commercially backed open source products tend to make this a priority and there's still space for more elsewhere throughout the open source universe.
Resolution #2: Outreach, outreach, outreach
The past year witnessed an exponential growth in the awareness of what is taking place within the open source stratosphere. Increased media coverage, better levels of understanding and higher levels of interest were all hallmarks of this happenstance. However, to take the next step it is going to be crucial to not lose sight of the value of outreach. Consistent outreach that is proactive in terms of reaching past those who are already 'in the know' is critical as open source moves out of the purely novel stage and into mainstream. Outreach is bigger than marketing and in today's information based world, even more important. Considering that more persons know what open source is, it's no longer sufficient to take the "We're open source, too!" approach as the novelty is wearing thin. There is pent-up demand for hearing the how and why of open source and not just the what. When this can be consistently expressed in a manner large groups can understand and grasp, a notable obstacle will have been cleared.
Resolution #3: Express solutions to business problems
This resolution loosely fits in with the aforementioned in the sense that outreach is only relevant as much as its message can be applied to the situation and understanding of those on its receiving end. For example, if I'm looking at to purchase an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) suite for end-use, odds are I could probably care less about the software development methodology with which the product was created unless it directly affects characteristics such as cost, usability, interoperability or anything else of significant importance. In other words, it's important to express how business problems are solved with technology (in this case, software) created using an open source approach as well as the ways in which that open source approach differs in style and results.
Resolution #4: Make strategy a community hallmark
Strategy is often viewed as an umbrella term which encompasses the act of planning and method of approach for achieving goals and objectives. Within open source communities, clear defined strategy is at the heart of successful efforts. Strategy is executed by implementing policies and processes which are in line with the goals which drive it. Among other key determinants, solid strategy is going to keep development efforts on track while also ensuring that other parallel dependencies don't stop the show. Things like a roadmap or a strategic manifesto can help but they are created as a result of establishing strategy. Armed with clearer definitions of community-wide approaches, globally distributed open source communities can move in isolation more smoothly. This enables a community to translate its loosely coupled makeup into an engine for productive growth. Oftentimes the presence of a commercial company behind an open source product helps provide a sharper focus for strategy, but it proves best when the community itself is able to do so organically.
Resolution #5: Establish information channels
Blogs, wiki's, forums, etc. are being used everyday across the web to open lines of communication and break down geographical barriers. The open source community should continue to assert itself at the forefront of employing the same means. Blogging or setting up a forum may not pay dividends overnight but it is slowly becoming expected of those serious about enabling open collaboration. Encouraging the creation of other forms of user generated content is beginning to nudge out advertising in that people are more likely to consult what others in their peer group are saying on blogs, podcasts or posts than what advertisers pump out through mediated platforms. As a result, ensuring that there are a variety of streams through which to become informed about an open source effort can be just as effective as traditional marketing/information publishing.