FOSS Policy

OpenStreetMap Foundation Free and Open Source Software Policy

This policy is devised to guide, but not mandate, software choices for work within the OpenStreetMap Foundation Board, Working Groups, and other OSMF bodies.

Our Values

We recognize that the values of the "Open" community have got this project where it is today. If people had not been willing to bet on OpenStreetMap even at a time when the usability we had to offer was far behind that of our closed competitors, the project would never have enjoyed the great success that makes us all proud.

At the same time, we believe strongly in "do-ocracy" and want to be inclusive and welcome to participation and contributions from many. We do not want to force the hand of working groups or indeed the OSMF board when it comes to selecting their collaboration tools.

Tool Choices

The OpenStreetMap Foundation will consider a full range of criteria in determining which tools it will use to manage its operations. Factors to consider in choice of collaboration software: open source, third party vs self hosted, usability, open formats / portability, cost, maintainence cost.

We strongly prefer to not use any hosted or closed software that ties us to one vendor, by making it very difficult or "lossy" to change. Any hosted or closed systems where we store content must directly either offer an option to export, or allow for simple 3rd party tools / plugins that facilitate export, into an open file format.

We prefer FOSS software if practicable, and for each instance where we use hosted or closed software, we will document reasoning why we deemed the FOSS alternatives not practicable.

Applying the Policy

Software choices are made within the revelant OSMF body -- Board, Working Group, etc. When hosted or closed sofware is used, re-evaluate the use of this software every two years with a view of changing to a FOSS solution if practical.

Software choices are not meant to be forced onto individual people contracting or volunteering their time and effort for OSMF. For example, a graphic designer producing an visual for the Communications Working Group would not be expected to examine their choice of tools. Most importanly, any output should be available in an open format, usable by a variety of tools.

All software used to run the core website and API services of OpenStreetMap will always be open. This policy focuses more on the tools used by OSMF to get administrative work done.

Here are some examples of software choices made by the Board:

  • Mumble is a FOSS voice conversation tool. We use a server hosted by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team.
  • Loomio is a FOSS for making decisions. We use the service hosted by Loomio themselves.
  • Google Apps is a proprietary hosted service, which we use for email. A FOSS alternative would be to mainain our own mailing server, but considering a potential burden for OWG and potential losses of time fighting spam and configuration issues, we decided to use a popular and reliable proprietary service.