Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My open source and my closed work

I usually don't write about things that actually happen to me. Instead I focus on describing tools, cool ideas, or just telling a joke. In this post, though, I'll tell an ongoing story about bringing protest into the company where I work.

protest is a neat little unit testing framework for C++ that I started working on around September last year. It's been open-source under the Boost Software Licence since its very beginning. The reason I started working on it was for one simple reason that has caused many hackers to start... well, hack... scratching an itch.

The particular itch in this case is the terrible state of C++ unit testing. I've tried several testing frameworks over the year, but all make me say yuck, do they really want me to write that? or should I really do that manually? or even worse what... I can't do that?

I've already written about protest here several times, so I won't do that again. What I will do however, is describing the process of using protest at my work. It started in November when I presented protest to my colleagues. They were positive and saw it as a good candidate for replacing UnitTest++ that we're currently using.

I'm working at a company that is very protective of it's source code and information -- for good reasons. What I am worried about is that if we started using protest without explicit acceptance and knowledge from some manager(s), I might run into problems if the source is found on the internet by the "security police" since it has my name on it (my user name on Gitorious is my real name, just as here on my blog). If they found it under my name on the internet, they can (falsely) draw the conclusion that I brought the code outside of the company.

So, to make sure this wouldn't happen I contacted a manager and explained the situation. Unfortunately, he contacted a person who specializes in law that looked into the matter in more detail. The response I got was we can't accept this, CompanyName might lose the the right to use protest if this-and-that, which wasn't true at all of course. 

I got a bit put off by this, but I finally got back to the issue this week. My response went along the following lines:

Regardless if you acknowledge and accept the license under which protest is published, you should understand that any open-source software can be used by any employee at CompanyName at any time. I know for a fact that we/CompanyName is using open-source licenced software, indeed, we rely on it daily.

I'm not sure if this was I good idea or not.

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