Introducing Our Partnership With Open Tech Strategies

Megan Dolan Our Team Leave a Comment

We’re excited to share that we’re working with Open Tech Strategies (OTS) on a six month co-development partnership through the end of 2020.

Permanent had been searching for development partners that could help us strengthen our codebase and eventually release it to the community. We were connected to OTS by our advisor and mutual friend, Jeff Ubois, at the MacArthur Foundation in 2019.

OTS partners and staff demonstrated decades’ worth of exceptional technical open source experience and expertise in developing and deploying software for end users and could offer us invaluable technical, cultural, and legal guidance in working towards open sourcing our own codebase. It’s clear that their impressive clients all came to them for assistance because they are seeking transformative change along open source principles for their organizations that OTS can uniquely provide. We wanted that for ourselves in order to fully realize our vision of an inclusive platform built for the people, by the people.

Building community from the ground up

At Permanent, we care deeply about building an inclusive space for our users and that always begins with our team. Through a co-development partnership, OTS team members have become fully integrated members of our team.

Working with OTS has already brought a wave of new ideas, insights and key learnings into our organization that have increased our own practice and skills as individuals and as an organization.

OTS is working with us on fixed goals to improve our software infrastructure and move us towards our goal of open sourcing our code for our community because the work we’re doing belongs to all people and that includes our code.

Our open source principles

What does the end result of this partnership look like for us? Our code will be collaborative, transparent, inclusive and predictable. We’ll know we reached our goal by these 4 core values of our project.

We’ve broken down this work into 3 core tasks: make it easier for new developers to come on board and contribute, pay down technical debt by modularizing and modernizing our software, and make it easier for our current developers to deliver a quality product.

Our work will simultaneously proceed as an intentional piece by piece open sourcing effort.

Making our codebase more collaborative means creating a seamless process for new developers or community members to come on board and contribute. This includes creating better documentation, improving discoverability and understanding and smoothing out the setup of a local development environment so it’s easy to hop in and get started.

It also involves software development fundamentals like ensuring complete test coverage and comprehensive error logging that increases performance and transparency. When contributors know our goals, how to get involved and what to expect when they do, our product can be truly inclusive.

Taken together, these practices make our application more predictable for everyone involved, from developers to users.

For new developers, our system becomes more easily comprehensible because it is structured the way typical open source projects are structured. For our users, the system works the way it is expected to work every time they log in. And for our engineering team, the system responds as expected when changes are made and those changes do not create any new surprises.

Eliminating tech debt

While these 3 core tasks improve our ability to deliver more reliable software that includes more people in the work, there’s also important tech debt and modernization work being done too.

Eliminating tech debt for Permanent looks like upgrading software packages and installing new software to help us gain greater visibility into our system. This means not only a newer version of our coding language but also new approaches to using the language which will come with the modernization of PHP and security practices.

We’re glad to have OTS’s support in modernizing and streamlining our codebase and preparing it for open source release.

We’ve already started and we’re excited by what we’re doing, but we know it’s just a start. We’d like to thank James Vasile and Karl Fogel, Partners at OTS for their support and guidance and Cristina Muñoz, OTS engineer, for her hard work alongside our engineering team. We’re looking forward to bringing more people on board in the future to help us with this important undertaking.

“We’re really excited to be taking the first concrete steps toward moving Permanent’s work out into the open for everyone to see, try out, and collaborate on.” – James Vasile

If you’d like to get involved in the work that we’re doing, send us an email at support@permanent.org. You can also join our user community group to be the first to see what we’re working on and have your voice represented in new features and designs.

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