Community Development – A coding community

I work mostly with software teams in large organizations. One things I’ve noticed is that the vast majority (all?) tend to work in a very siloed manner. Whether by design or default, the good news is that this serves to insulate each of the teams from unwanted changes to the systems and infrastructure. But it also cause issues, because it is highly inefficient. Not only are the administrative overheads impacted, IP is not shared and expertise is not leveraged. Centralizing and consolidating IT software assets is the foundation upon which organizations can implement a robust coding community that promotes collaboration and sharing across enterprise teams.

A coding community relies upon the implementation of a community architecture to provide the facilities for data sharing, structured data, and enabling communities to work together in the development and delivery of software applications. Key aspects of the Community include the following:

• The Community must include social forums for ad-hoc collaboration between distributed team members. Such forums might include wiki-based knowledgebase containing a central and searchable repository of comments, code snippets, libraries and other valuable assets
• Team members from any part of the organization can benefit from enhanced visibility and search across the enterprise. Subject to the security constraints of the specific business, the more visibility given to developers, the more access to those valuable IT assets is provided, the more productive those developers can be. Sharing in a safe and controlled environment is a huge boost to productivity.
• Just like any other part of an enterprises’ IT environment, comprehensive governance is a necessity. The community architecture that is put in place to foster re-use must also reflect the governance and security mandates of the individual enterprise.
• To the degree possible, it is often useful to enhance third-party collaboration in the coding community. This extends re-use and cooperation beyond the firewall.

Done well, a development community can help a disparate, fractured and distributed staff in the development organization find common architectural foundations, share best practices, communicate more effectively. Outside of the development organization, a Community Architecture can break down the barriers and bridge the gaps between non-technical business people and the developer community.

Here’s an interesting White Paper on Social Coding.

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