InnerSource with GitLab

The power of open source, without giving away your code

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What is InnerSource?

InnerSource is the use of open source best practices and establishment of an open source culture — within your organization.

You may develop proprietary software, while opening up work between developers and teams internally.

With the increasing pace of technological change, internal communication and collaboration have become key competitive differentiators, as they are both essential to agility. Not only between technical teams in software, IT, security, or data science, but across entire organizations, it has never been more important to get everyone working better together.

By setting the default to open for projects within your organization, you can enable reuse of existing solutions and minimize redundancy, empower and incentivize collaboration across teams, and leverage talent across your workforce.

Benefits of InnerSource

Many benefits that are typical of open source development can be realized with InnerSource.

  • Faster, with quality: Unit tests, code coverage, and continuous integration help improve code earlier
  • Documentation: Code is better documented, both in comments and less formally in discussions
  • Code reuse: Code and architecture are discoverable and available across teams and the organization
  • Collaboration: Friction reduced for code review, communication, and contributions in and between teams
  • Culture: Silos broken down, happiness improved and with that, better retainment and recruitment

How to InnerSource

  • Everyone can contribute: Many organizations assume that software engineers should be the only direct contributors to software projects. Pivot to thinking of everyone as a contributor. Their contributions may be code, bug fixes or reports, copy edits, or simply informed user opinions in comment threads. Welcome them.
  • Establish maintainer roles: Product managers, lead developers, and other decision makers are elevated to manage contributions.
  • Standardize tools and open up projects: Use one platform for source code management and as much of the rest of the DevOps lifecycle as possible, from planning and project management through to monitoring. Give as many people in your organization access to as many projects as you can, and the basic training they need to make contributions.

Learn more with this getting-started guide by O’Reilly editor Andy Oram.


Why use GitLab for InnerSource?


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