A couple years ago, when I was heavily involved in several open source projects, I accumulated a set of thoughts that might be interesting to someone starting their own open source project. I had grandiose dreams of writing a series of articles along these lines, but as you might expect, real life and a lack of ambition nixed that. Now, I've forgotten even what I was interested in saying, so let's try a different approach. Whenever I have a thought that I think somebody might possibly care about, I will write it as a tip. If the set of tips grows sufficiently large, and enough people care, I may combine them into something more organization. So here we go. Open Source Development Tip #1:
Subscribe to a Google Alert with your project's name and watch users "in the wild". Mailing lists are fine and all, but many people won't bother sending their problems or even first impressions to you or the project mailing lists, even if they'll write in other forums or blogs. Google Alerts will give you a broader perspective.
- Release your software. (This, of course, requires a sufficient feature set to convince yourself that somebody might possibly want to use it.)
- Give your software a sufficiently google-able name. (Audiere, iPodExtract, yes. Corona, Sphere, no.)