The Bitkom Open Source Guide 3.0: A Comprehensive Upgrade

For 6 years, the Bitkom Open Source Guide 2.0 was a wel­come first point of con­tact for Ger­man com­pa­nies regard­ing the appro­pri­ate use of open-source soft­ware. It was a stim­u­lat­ing source and bench­mark at the same time. But like every­thing else in the world, it has aged over time. Thus, it’s good to know that Bitkom and its ‘Open Source’ work­ing group have tak­en up the top­ic again. In June 2022, there was offi­cial­ly released an expand­ed and refined Bitkom Open Source Guide 3.0, — again intend­ed to be a man­u­al and a bench­mark for com­pa­nies

The one amaz­ing thing is that with this guide, Bitkom has pub­lished a ‘hand­out’ under a (kind of) open source license for the first time, that is to say: under a Cre­ative Com­mons license (CC BY-ND 3.0 DE). Appar­ent­ly, the idea of ​​a freely acces­si­ble ser­vice is also com­ing to the fore at Bitkom. That gives his voice even more weight. But it is under­stand­able that Bitkom does not allow third-par­ties to mod­i­fy the work (ND = Non Deriva­tion). It wants tp pre­serve the gained qual­i­ty and reli­a­bil­i­ty. How­ev­er, any oth­er type of use by third par­ties is express­ly per­mit­ted and even encour­aged, includ­ing com­mer­cial use. And in the not too dis­tant future, Bitkom will cer­tain­ly bring itself to make the sources gen­er­al­ly acces­si­ble, not just in a ‘closed’ GitHub orga­ni­za­tion.

The sec­ond aston­ish­ing thing is relat­ed to this. Bitkom has allowed its authors to orga­nize them­selves via and with GitHub. Any­one could take part. Any­one could become a mem­ber of the orga­ni­za­tion and thus access the GitHub repos­i­to­ry con­tain­ing the (par­tial) results. Bitkom has — again, for the first time and suc­cess­ful­ly — devel­oped a book using the meth­ods of open source soft­ware devel­op­ment. The chap­ters of the Bitkom open-source guide were writ­ten in Mark­down, checked into the repos­i­to­ry as snip­pets, and com­bined as a com­plete work via inci­dents and pull requests, although by no means all authors were famil­iar with GitHub from the begin­ning. This fact also points beyond itself: Git, GitHub or Git­Lab can sig­nif­i­cant­ly sim­pli­fy (cross-com­pa­ny) coop­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion.

And the third amaz­ing thing is the trans­for­ma­tion of the con­tent. While the release 2.0 still focused on the legal aspects of use, the new Bitkom Open Source Guide 3.0 is much more com­pre­hen­sive and bal­anced: It dis­cuss­es both, the ben­e­fits of FOSS and its devel­op­ment process. It ana­lyzes the inte­gra­tion into busi­ness mod­els and cor­po­rate strate­gies, explains open source com­pli­ance, and con­sid­ers the FOSS his­to­ry — each on almost the same num­ber of pages. The oth­er aspects of FOSS are no longer an appendage of com­pli­ance, but the pre­req­ui­sites for suc­cess­ful use of open-source soft­ware are tak­en into account in a bal­anced way, with­out reduc­ing the top­ic ‘license com­pli­ance’. And each sec­tion, with only 10–20 pages, can eas­i­ly be used to get a quick overview.

What does this mean for com­pa­nies? Well, apart from the fact that the guide­line is writ­ten in Ger­man, not in Eng­lish, they now have anoth­er guide­line that has been reviewed sev­er­al times by exter­nal experts and that is there­fore reli­able.

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