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Facebook Launches TODO Group to Work on Open-Source Software

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Inside Facebooks Menlo Park Headquarters

Inside Facebooks Menlo Park Headquarters.

On Monday, Facebook announced at its @Scale 2014 conference in San Francisco that it has partnered with a group of large tech companies including Box, Dropbox, Google, GitHub, Khan Academy, Square, Stripe, Twitter, @WalmartLabs and a handful of other companies to launch TODO, which stands for, “Talk Openly, Develop Openly.” The organization aims to make open source easier for everyone offering discussion and best practices.

The new initiative TODO intends to address hurdles companies like Facebook and its partners face while using open source software. Jay Parikh, global head of engineering at Facebook who announced the program in San Francisco did not reveal much about TODO because it is in its very early stages, only a couple of weeks old, he said.

Facebook and these partners involved in the initiative not only have been strong open source advocates but also produce a ton of it, developing tools to handle their own infrastructure and providing the code to the web development community.

The TODO project goal is to make it easier for organizations to ascertain which among the thousands of open-source projects in existence are mature and reliable enough because not all of it is high quality and not all of it is regularly maintained. While the details are still being worked out certain projects will be marked as "TODO-approved” to be deployed at scale.

As James Pearce, head of open source at Facebook, put it in a blog post, “We want to run better, more impactful open source programs in our own companies; we want to make it easier for people to consume the technologies we open source; and we want to help create a roadmap for companies that want to create their open source programs but aren’t sure how to proceed.”

The partners involved in the initiative will be creating a set of best practices around open source tools members have developed or used. In a press Q&A session, Pearce said a project that is on TODO’s list is a statement that it has been used successfully by one of the companies. This would act as a seal of approval in a way, he added.

Facebook already publishes a variety of open source projects, such as the Presto data-analysis tool or Origami software for mobile-application designers. TODO is an opportunity for companies outside the Internet industry to tap into that knowledge and share tools they've developed for managing open-source projects. The project is said to include more members and seek to advance open-source software development, Menlo Park, California-based Facebook said.

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