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102: FOLIO with Harry Kaplanian

Hosted byCharles Lowell and Robert DeLuca

May 31st, 2018.

In this episode, Harry Kaplanian of EBSCO joins the show to talk about the FOLIO project: a community collaboration to develop an open source Library Services Platform (LSP) designed for innovation. He discusses the why behind the the decision made to embark on this project, the benefits it brings to the market, and what makes it different from current offerings and other open source projects.

Harry also shares where he sees FOLIO going in the future, challenging and unexpected outcomes of making the choice to go open source, and advice for other businesses that are considering embarking on a similar journey today.

Do you have opinions on this show? Want to hear about a specific topic in the future? Reach out to us at contact@frontside.io or on Twitter at @thefrontside.

This show was produced by Mandy Moore, aka @therubyrep of DevReps, LLC.


CHARLES: Hello everybody and welcome to The Frontside Podcast Episode 102. My name is Charles Lowell. I’m a founder and developer here at The Frontside and I’m going to be today’s host. So today, we’re going to be talking about the business of open source with Harry Kaplanian. Harry’s someone that we’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past year and collaborating with on a very unique project, which we are going to get into later. With me is Robert DeLuca. Hey, Robert.

ROBERT: Hello.

CHARLES: And before we start out today, we just wanted to take care of some quick news. Just so you know, we released BigTest React. This is actually something that grew out of the work that we’ve been doing with Harry. It’s a set of React helpers to acceptance test your React applications so that you can make sure that you know that your application is actually working on actual browsers in actual life. So, that’s exciting. You can go check it out at BigTestJS.io. And with that said, let’s get on with the project. So first if all, welcome, Harry.

HARRY: Thank you.

CHARLES: I teased this in the intro, but we’ll go ahead and say it outright. The project that we’ve been working on with you and with EBSCO is a project called FOLIO. And it’s one of the more unique projects we’ve ever had the pleasure of working on. So, maybe you could just give us a brief overview of what exactly FOLIO is and how it came to be.

HARRY: Sure. So, FOLIO I think can best be described as an open source platform for services. Our focus has always been the library market and so, currently this platform exists in the library space. That said, there’s nothing about this platform that is library-specific. It can actually be used anywhere, anytime, for anything. The platform itself, all communication occurs basically via HTTP. It’s microservice-based. It’s language-agnostic. And it is really the core of what we’re building. However of course, a platform on its own is not very useful. And at least for right now, libraries are overall expecting to get to a point in terms of features, functionality, apps, and services that are being built. So FOLIO can actually take over the enterprise-wide day-to-day operations of what it takes to actually run a library.

CHARLES: And these are libraries like university libraries, the Library of Congress, the library at Alexandria. I mean really, when you think of library, like library [3:00 inaudible].

HARRY: Yes. However, we decided to focus on a particular market, at least initially or I guess a subset of the library market. And so, that subset we’ve actually chosen to focus on is the academic library market. And so, really mainly colleges and universities all around the world. That said, there is no reason why others can’t use this software. And it is all open source. So, if any changes are ever needed, modifications or additional applications are needed to support those additional markets, that can certainly happen at any time.

CHARLES: Historically, it’s a very complex problem, right? There is a lot that goes on at these libraries. But historically, the software that’s driving it has not been open source.

HARRY: That is correct. So, it’s sort of an interesting history. And I guess you’re leading into what I think was maybe your second question [Chuckles] which was: What are the circumstances or the thinking that lead to the creation of a project such as this? And really, libraries have been pretty much operating the same way, to be honest, for probably about the last 40 years. And I’m sure we either all know or have heard, most libraries are facing shrinking budgets. They’re really challenged in terms of space and storage requirements. And just in general, users have changed dramatically in the last 40 years, the last 20 years, maybe even the last 10 years. Most people don’t really ever expect to walk into a library and actually conduct research anymore. They expect that to happen elsewhere.

And so, in many ways, they’re really facing what amounts to Google and others, because that’s where people expect to go. The vendors that typically created the systems and software that supported these libraries, the day-to-day operations over the years, many of them have consolidated. And there are just actually very few options left. These are really old, monolithic systems. They were built initially with the best intent. And for the first couple of years, many features and functionalities were added. But over time, these systems grew to be so large. There really was never any one person anymore that fully understood it. They find themselves in situations where if they add a little feature here or modify something there, it breaks something somewhere else within the system. And so really, they’ve gotten to a point where libraries have generated lists of features and functionality that they need that are frankly years long. And the vendors just can’t deliver any of it. They just don’t have the ability anymore. The systems are too old.

In addition, really they’re sort of building these walled gardens where they really try to take over all the day-to-day operations of the library but are actually starting to try and expand out in other areas of the university as well. And as they do this, they really tend to lock the system down. They’re not really open to integration with other systems or other vendors. And they really see it as they are the one company you should go to that can completely manage and operate everything that goes on in your library. And when we talk about innovation in these systems, really they’ve been operating the same way, as I mentioned earlier, for the last 40 years. Really, the only major, major innovations is there’s maybe one company now that’s offering these services on the cloud. One size fits all. And the real issue there is, all of these libraries we talked to, all of them see themselves as being unique in some certain and specific way or sometimes multiple ways. All of them believe they’re bringing something special to the world in terms of knowledge, research, understanding and learning. And they tend to cater or specialize often to the institution they’re a part of.

And so for example, if a library belongs to a medical school, of course their collections are tailored that way. A lot of their workflows and operations tailor to students that conduct research in that field. And oftentimes, even to a hospital that may be associated as well. And this will oftentimes be very different from what might exist for example in an engineering library. And so, for most of them, they look around at what’s available to them. Not only has nothing changed, not only has there been no innovation, but on top of it, they’re forced to choose essentially a single system. And that’s not really getting them what they want or where they want to be.

So I, as well as some others, spent quite a bit of time looking around at the market and trying to assess and understand all of this. And one of the things we felt was, as we look at all of this, really we’re living in a world, these libraries are living in a world of closed systems, lack of transparency, lack of change, lack of innovation. How do we change that? How do we spark that innovation? And it seemed like what we really need is some sort of an ecosystem, a sustainable ecosystem or really, openness and transparency. And it seems like the only way to get that really is open source. And in fact, we actually conducted a survey and out of that survey, 100% of the libraries we spoke to really believe in open source. And when you think about it…


HARRY: Open source really in many ways aligns itself really nicely with the mission of the library, right? The library is there to not only promote learning but to make sure information and knowledge that normally you may not have access to is accessible to everyone. They’re really leveling the playing field. And that really is a really nice analogy for what open source is doing in the marketplace as well. And so, this seemed like really, and at least, an initial ideal path to head down. And so, we did.

CHARLES: Yeah. And so, you did. And I’m curious to explore more about that decisions. Because – now this is a little bit of a dated quote – but Steve Balmer, when he was the head of Microsoft, called open source communistic and un-American, then how do you reconcile that? Because obviously you represent a business that ultimately needs to be profitable and is engaging in this in order to make a profit. And so, where does the balance lie and how do you reconcile that? And obviously you all perceive this as a strong business move. And so, yeah, how do you balance those two concerns?

HARRY: I think from our perspective, we looked at it as if a single vendor or maybe a group of two or three vendors end up locking up the entire market with systems that operate the entire library that are not open and they’re not willing to integrate with other systems and services that exist out there, in essence that’s an attack on what is the basis of our business as a company. We provide services and we provide content that libraries use and ingest and make available to their users. And essentially, it looks like they’re trying to lock us out. And how does that really help in terms of creating an open and fair marketplace where people get to make choice? It doesn’t. And so, what can we do to disrupt that? And building a system that allows everyone to play at least puts us on a level playing field where if an organization or a library chooses to adopt it, we’re now back in a very competitive situation where really, the vendor or the organization or the individual that provides the services that best fit that library’s needs wins. And that’s what we really want to happen.

And so, that’s in essence how we win. We believe we offer better services than most others in the industry, if not everyone else in the industry. We think there’s a sizable percentage of the market that truly believes that. And we just need to make sure that the mechanisms or the systems are in place that allow us to compete in that manner. And in the end, if what we end up with is a platform that allows 3, 5, 10, or 20 companies to actually compete in a reasonable manner fairly, really it’s the customer in the end that wins. It’s these libraries and it’s the users and everyone else conducting research.

ROBERT: So, I’m still kind of reeling from 100% of libraries said that they would like to have an open source platform. How many did you survey?

HARRY: So to be truthful, it wasn’t a large number.

ROBERT: That’s still insane to me. [Laughs]

HARRY: Right. We focused on, however, surveying different segments of I guess really representation within the library. So, the people that do the work, the middle managers, and then really, the folks at the director level that are really responsible for running and organizing a library.

ROBERT: The ones that will experience that pain of being locked in, right?

HARRY: Right, right. And trying to get decision-makers at many different levels. And we tried to also cover both very small libraries to very large, enormous libraries as well. And all of them saw a benefit. One of the pieces where things sort of maybe went in the other direction as far as the statistics are concerned, if you ask them though “How many are willing to adopt open source?” the numbers aren’t quite the same. In fact, they’re rather dramatic. And so, at that point it’s roughly about 33% said they’d be willing to adopt.

CHARLES: So, why is that?

HARRY: So, we asked. And interesting question. And what most of them came back and stated was, “Well, we love the idea of open source. We fully support it. We’re willing to do what we can to help it and make sure this happens. However, we ourselves don’t believe we’ve got the staffing, the resourcing, or the knowledge to host this ourselves.” And so, this leads to another really interesting thought or idea as far as open source is concerned, is so this really implies that there really needs to be sort of an ecosystem of organizations that are providing these types of services. And to be honest, the faster we can make that happen, the better off the market is.

Libraries are now getting to choose vendors that they get to get their services from, which is rather interesting. Because for the first time, not only do they get to choose the vendor but if they’re not happy with the vendor, they should be able to switch vendors but keep the software and the data the same. Today, in the library market, if a library chooses to switch vendors, that means essentially they’re completely starting over in their library. They completely have to migrate to a fully new system which means enormous amounts of training, enormous amounts of data transfer, and all the pain that goes along with it. I had a librarian tell me once, “The next time we migrate to a fully new system, I either want to die or retire.” I just want [14:30 inaudible].

ROBERT: Man, that sounds painful.

HARRY: That’s how painful it was.

CHARLES: Yeah, wow. Because the complexity intrinsic to these systems, it does, it boggles the mind sometimes. Just even the little slices of the ecosystem in which we’re operating, there’s just a lot at play there.

ROBERT: Yeah. Like trying to work with other vendors and be agnostic so anybody can adopt these things that we’re building. And since we had that vendor lock-in, it’s hard for you to adapt the two systems, because they were built in complete silos. So, trying to merge that is an interesting challenge.

HARRY: And I think everything I’m saying here, I’m talking about it from the library perspective. But if you look at other industries, I don’t think it’s really any different. If you look at any of the enterprise-wide management systems that are used in corporate organizations today, most of these corporate entities will stick with the system they chose for a very long time. Because it’s incredibly painful, it’s disruptive, and it’s expensive to switch from one system to another. And so, the idea of you’re not happy with a vendor and hey, I can go to somewhere else and maybe keep the system I have in place is really kind of interesting. And even better, if the vendor’s not able to provide some of those features that I need but for the most part I like the system, wouldn’t it be great if I can hire someone to do that work and to have those pieces built for me? And those are some of the things that open source offers.

CHARLES: Right, right. So now, I understand that for example to kind of put a concrete bow on this, [Chuckles] to move away from abstraction of what it means and provide an example, so we have this open source platform, this FOLIO platform. Which if I’m a library, I could in-house, I could either use it on premises on my own servers or I could run them on AWS or I could run them on Google Cloud – there are all these different deployment options and some libraries are doing that, but that’s something that they might not want to do. So, I understand that EBSCO is actually going to be for example one of the services that y’all are going to be offering around FOLIO, is actually hosting the platform so that the overhead of managing all of the servers and provisioning accounts and doing all that stuff is going to be taken care of for you. So, I can just sign up.

HARRY: Yes. So, that really fed into the results of the survey. For those libraries or organizations that felt they couldn’t do it themselves, where would they go? And who could provide those services? So, we’re absolutely going into the business of providing these services for libraries that choose to. But at the same time, we’re really strongly encouraging other vendors and organizations to provide these services as well. Because for instance, you may represent a series of libraries in let’s say Hungary. You may have a vendor there you enjoy working with in the past. It’s provided great services for you. There really ought to be no reason why you should not choose that vendor to provide those services for you.

And again, it’s an open system. There’s nothing there that’s excluding me and the organization I work for to provide additional services, to provide content or what have you. It’s an open system. And so, we should strongly encourage that. And the reality is, if we’re going to have a disruption in the market, it seems we can either have one organization or one company trying to usher this disruption along. But what if we could get 10? Or what if we could get 20? Or more companies out there ushering this disruption along simultaneously worldwide. It feels like we’ve got a lot more of a disruption happening in that case. And so, that’s what we’re strongly encouraging.

CHARLES: Right. But at the same time, I can see it from if I were considering making a play like this, one of the things that would worry me is, “Okay, so we’re going to disrupt the market by allowing a large tent where lots of vendors could compete.” But then, I immediately experience fear of, “Well then, how do I differentiate myself?” Because ultimately I want to be competitive. How do I make it so that I’m not a commodity in this new market?

HARRY: So really, I think that’s key for any vendor that chooses to compete in a market like this. Do you believe as an organization you have not only what’s needed to compete but those key differentiators that at least a certain segment of the market would be interested in you and the services you offer? We believe we do. Another company that just recently announced that they’re going to be supporting FOLIO and providing services around it is a company called ByWater Solutions. They’ve actually been in another segment of the library market for many years providing services to libraries as well. Longstanding, actually, with open source codebases. And so, this very much appeals to them. They believe…

ROBERT: Oh, interesting.

HARRY: They have a niche that they can provide and they are going to be doing that. And we strongly encourage it. What’s again great about it is if they set up a library with FOLIO, they’re not building the walled garden. They’re building or providing the open platform that we can connect our services to. So in many ways, yeah there are some areas we’re going to compete. But there are actually many areas that we’re also going to be complementary. And I think that’s what’s really, really interesting to us.

CHARLES: So, it sounds like you’re also counting on just by having the ecosystem in place and having this sea as it were filling the ocean to enable trade, one of the bets too is that you’re going to open lines of business that weren’t even possible before.

HARRY: Correct. So, another way to look at it – we’ve got our iPhones or Android devices. Apple built a platform is really what that phone is. When it was released, you could make voice calls. You could do some simple text messaging, some basic email, and I’m sure there are a couple other of things in there that I’ve forgotten. I do not believe that Apple had any idea that they’d actually be able to create a marketplace that had hundreds of thousands of people and vendors providing features and functionality for that platform. I am pretty sure no one at Apple had ever imagined the guitar tuner would be released. I don’t know, a compass app, flashlight apps, whatever. You name it. And not only that, as a user of that platform, you’re not happy with the standard email app? Well you know what? I can get a different one. In fact, I’ve got a choice of many and I can find the one that suits me best. And that’s fine. It’s an open marketplace.

And so, with FOLIO today, we’re in early stages. We’re building out that platform. We’re building out some of the basic functionality for that library that they need to operate as a library. But once this gets released, it’s at that point when we believe the more interesting things are going to happen where we build a cataloging app for FOLIO. Well, we know already that there’s other organizations that are starting to look at and think about, “You know what? We’ve got a whole other way or a whole other interest in terms of how we’d like to support those workflows on the FOLIO platform.” Or even better, librarians starting to think about, “Hey, if I’ve got this open platform just like Apple does, this means I now have the option to build features and functionality that take me where I want to be five years from now, 10 years from now. And I’ve never had that ability on the existing systems that we use today.” And so, one of the other I think advantages or benefits that something like FOLIO or a platform like this brings to the market is the ability to create that marketplace very much like Apple has done and Google has done with Android as well.

ROBERT: So, we’re pretty far in, but you mentioned FOLIO a couple of times. Do we want to unpack what FOLIO actually means?

HARRY: Yes. FOLIO actually stands for the Future Of Libraries Is Open.

ROBERT: Right there in the name. I love it.

HARRY: Absolutely.

CHARLES: So, we’ve talked about this platform. We’ve talked about this marketplace. We’ve talked about the business incentive of why you would want to do this, why it makes a lot of sense. Clearly, this takes an enormous investment. So, we think, I think, a lot of people think of open source as a bunch of wild developers running around.

ROBERT: Pushing commits wherever they want.

CHARLES: Pushing out code and doing stuff. And then it kind of organically grows into something that someone then picks up.

ROBERT: And then you burn out.

CHARLES: Yeah. [Chuckles] But that’s I think a lot of people’s experience with open source. But an initiative like this takes a staggering investment both in terms of capital resources but also in terms of will, in terms of management, and putting all these enormous forces in motion. There’s developing the software, developing the awareness, and I think right now there are hundreds if not thousands of people working on this right now. How do you even go from zero to 6,000 like that? And I’m not talking about people. I’m talking about velocity. [Laughs]

HARRY: Right. Early on, when we were conducting research, market research, one of the things we did, we spent some time looking at what we believed were successful open source projects. And I think what was interesting was in many cases it took a single individual or a company to actually create what amounts to that first piece, that first core building block that others could start to expand upon. And very often, they literally just created it themselves, made it available out there as open source, and basically told the world, “Here. Have at it. Have fun. Do with this whatever you wish.” So, we actually thought we’d like to do that. However, building a system on this scale is not that easy. Understanding the operations of a library day-to-day is not that simple. We need help.

And so, what we decided early on was: could we kick off and start this project while at the same time [25:42 inaudible] that community as early as possible? To get people excited, interested, and to get this project in a place where we’re not the only contributors, where there are many others contributing as well. And when I say ‘contribute’ I don’t necessarily mean software developers. But that is certainly one aspect of it. But one of the key pieces of building software is gaining access to subject matter experts as well. And it’s absolutely key and critical. And so, our goal of course was to build this community, have that community start to provide that in-depth knowledge, those subject matter experts that we need so we can determine what it is we need to build, how we need to build it, and really go from there. And by including those people as early as possible, I think one of the things we find that happens with this project which is really sort of incredible is the excitement that starts to build. The word of mouth advertising, marketing, as librarians, libraries, vendors and individuals start to talk to others and really spread the word about this project. In many ways, it starts to compound or snowball and build on itself. But that was really challenging.

And it was really actually kind of slow going in the beginning. Because we started with nothing. And one of the issues you face is, “Well, you want me to contribute my time to this project, yet I see nothing.” Right now it’s just a dream. And so, one of those early, early issues was, “Can we build a team small enough, focused enough, where we can start to build some of the basic, basic, basic core pieces, to really prove to the world that this project is real? This project is actually moving forward and this project is actually delivering.” And now that we’re in a state where people can actually see working software, the excitement is just starting to expand and compound rapidly. And we see it everywhere.

CHARLES: So, do you find libraries or people in the target market, there’s that key point where they start to feel empowered? It’s real and then the thing that I think that you’re going for is to have the realization dawn that not only is it real, I can put my hands on the wheel and I could control my destiny. And I can contribute now because there’s this critical mass.

ROBERT: You have the power to make change, which never existed in the library world before.

HARRY: Or at least, not in this specific area. Because to be truthful, I think libraries as a whole believe they’re making change around the world all the time. But it’s really related to content. But this is actually making changes in the actual operations of the library. And they are actually empowered to get involved, to contribute, and to help us get this done. And it seems to really resonate with folks. Because it’s something they haven’t been able to do previously. And it seems genuinely exciting. And we announced this really, well the market learned that this was happening I’d say a little over two years ago. Maybe more like two and a half years ago. And it was sort of a gentle drip in terms of a roll out. People started to learn because we started talking to them. There was no real active marketing going on. But of course, those people started to talk to other people. And so, it happened. And when we were able to provide those first demonstrations, no matter how rudimentary it was, that’s when things seemed to really kick into a much higher gear where people started talking to each other. Librarians started talking to each other and say, “Hey, this is real. This is exciting.”

ROBERT: It’s not vaporware.

HARRY: And this is happening. Right. It’s not vaporware. And we need to get involved. And so, they have.

CHARLES: Yeah. And the energy and involvement just in the course of the time that we’ve been a part of the project is apparent. Every kind of gathering is larger and the diversity of topics that are discussed is increasing. And yeah, the conversations have burned from “What can we do with it?” to the last time the project got together as a group, it had much more of a conference-y feel. And the topics being discussed were like, “How do we actually deploy this to our real systems?” Which has been fantastic to see. And so, just to actually feel the traction is just, it’s so gratifying. So, I guess one of the questions that is on my mind is – so you mentioned that you had been at this for about two and a half years. What is in your mind the most pleasant, unexpected outcome of this project that you didn’t foresee two and a half years ago that you’re experiencing now?

HARRY: So, I think one of the one’s that’s surprising is I’ve never actually personally been involved in an open source project before. And I think one of the fears constantly working for organizations that really have been closed source – in fact, I’ve been that my adult working life – and you sort of walk into this with some [trepidation]. Because oh my gosh, everything I’m doing, everything I say, everything that gets documented is going to be out in the open for everyone to see? Including competition and everyone else? And I have to say, one of the most interesting things, or one of my favorite pieces here, is: it is so freeing. It’s a release. It’s actually amazing to not care about what your competition or anyone is doing or thinking. And it’s even more amazing whenever you’ve got a question and someone’s out there asking you for access to documentation, you can simply point them to the website, to the URL and say, “It’s there. It’s all there. Anything you want is there. Go take a look.” I think that’s pretty amazing.

The other one of course are the relationships between many, many different people who I’ve just never really been – or I never would have had the chance to work with before. And really hearing all these different perspectives and points of view as far as what people think are right, correct, or what we should be doing – it’s great to see. And it’s great to see this wildfire word of mouth message that seems to be moving everywhere. We’re hearing back from people not just in North America, not just from the EU, but from the Middle East, from South and Central America. There’s really just people interested everywhere. And it’s amazing to me, because I don’t think I spoke to anyone over there. So, it’s happening. And that’s just an exciting thing to see.

CHARLES: Yeah, yeah.

ROBERT: It’s really cool that open source can connect you with the rest of the world like that. It’s just so powerful.

HARRY: It does. And it’s an amazing thing.

ROBERT: And the amount of collaboration that happens, I’ve never experienced it in any other way. It’s really cool. [Chuckles] I don’t know how else to put it. It’s just, it’s almost mind-blowing that you are able to across timezones, across the world, collaborate with somebody on something that you both feel passionate about and you’re pushing it forward in an open manner.

HARRY: Right. And it’s also amazing when you have these meetings and there’s people you’ve been collaborating with for months if not a year or more. And getting to meet them face-to-face for the first time. That’s really a pretty amazing experience.

ROBERT: Yeah. And it’s pretty awesome. At our last gathering that we had at WolfCon, I had the absolute pleasure of chatting up a bunch of different librarians. And hearing their experiences and what they’re looking for out of an experience, it’s just really cool to be able to talk to those people and see how they work and help build this into the platform that they’re wanting to use.

HARRY: Right, right.

CHARLES: Yeah. I would say on the whole, there’s been a lot of those wonderful, unexpected outcomes. Were there any that presented a particular challenge or wasn’t quite so much a walk along the path of roses?

HARRY: So, you know I think the biggest one is – I mentioned earlier we embarked on this project a little differently versus what we saw as normally successful open source projects, right? We did not have that core, beautiful, shiny object to unleash onto the world and let them know, “Hey, have at it.” And so, it wasn’t so hard in terms of getting interest. But what’s been hard is the amount of interest has generated enormous numbers of organizations that are interested in contributing to the project. Which also implies then that now, not only are they coming to us asking us, “Hey, how can we help? What can we do here?” but then there’s a certain aspect, because this is a first version of, “How do you manage the building and construction of that very first version of this software project when the reality of the matter is, you’re not really responsible for most everyone working on the project?” And how do you get everyone aligned and organized? How do you get everyone onto that same path along with those same milestones that we’ve all agreed on? And even worse, how do you get agreement on those milestones so we can all walk that same path and deliver that first version?

And so, I get asked sometimes by folks that are involved in other open source projects, “How do you handle this situation? Or how do you manage all the work that goes on?” And when we tell them, it’s kind of surprising because it’s not what they’re used to seeing. And a lot of it is because of the way we started, the interest that was generated early on, and the fact that we did not have an initial version. And I don’t want that to sound like, “Oh, this is a huge problem,” or, “If I were to do it again, I would not do it this way again.” I in fact would do it this way again. I think there are a lot of benefits and it’s been a great and interesting way to go. It’s just the management aspects of it are definitely challenging. And I think more than maybe we had initially anticipated. Going into this next time, though, I definitely know what I’m facing and I’ll be prepared.

CHARLES: Yeah. So with that in mind, given that you’ve been through this, do you have any advice to offer someone who might be considering embarking on a similar journey? And undertaking a similar Herculean task.

HARRY: Well, I think you’ll find it’s harder than you think. And be sure to plan for that. But I guess at the same time, I think my biggest advice or my best advice would be: you need to keep an open mind. And when I mean an open mind, you need to be open to other thoughts and ideas. And I think you need to put yourself in the perspective of what if you were one of these other people that are working on the project or trying to contribute to this project? What are the things that you’re doing or rather the things that you’re doing now, the way you’re acting, the way you’re reacting, how does that look to others on the project? Because you’re not the only one contributing. You’re not the only organization contributing. And are the things you’re doing reflecting badly in terms of others’ perception or optics as to what this looks like as an open source project? And I think for me and others, there was a huge learning experience. Because your first thought is, “I’m going to tackle this like any other software project,” and it’s not. It’s not like that at all.

CHARLES: I think that’s…

ROBERT: That makes sense.

CHARLES: Yes, that makes sense. That’s excellent. That’s excellent advice. And I think that’s one of the things that makes open source so powerful, is because there’s that aspect just baked into it from the get go, you have to be mindful of a bunch of different perspectives. And that ultimately results in a solution that’s going to be workable for a bunch of different perspectives, that’s going to be flexible to accommodate for all the different use cases that all the different participants in the community might bring to the table.

HARRY: And you have to be very mindful of how your actions are perceived. Because normally, your actions are perceived by the company you work for, what tends to have a particular culture. But on an open source project, you’re actually dealing with many different cultures.


HARRY: And so, that’s a tight line that you have to walk.

CHARLES: That was a powerful note to end on. Thank you everybody for listening. We are The Frontside and we build software that you can stake your future on. If you want to get in touch with us, continue the conversation, you can reach out to us on Twitter at @TheFrontside or drop us an email at contact@frontside.io. Thank you so much Harry, for being on the show today and talking to us about FOLIO.

HARRY: And thank you very much for having me. This has been great.

CHARLES: And if you want to, if there’s something that you want to learn about or a topic that you want to discuss, please, please let us know. We always are open for your feedback, especially when it comes for things that you would want to hear. And if you want to get involved or learn more about the FOLIO platform, you can just head on over to FOLIO.org. There are resources for librarians, developers, and anyone who is curious about becoming a community member.

Thanks as always to Mandy, our producer. And we’ve got a really great podcast coming up on the 14th of June. We’re going to have Michael Jackson on the podcast to talk about separations of concerns in React. So again, thank you Robert. Thank you Harry. And we’ll see you all next time.

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