How Open Source values guide our work

15 Apr 2021 5 min read

Written by

XWiki Team

At XWiki, Open Source is more than the software we develop - it's the way we guide ourselves and work every day. Our goal is to help users and offer a tool that enables collaboration and brings teams together. As we've stated openly in our Open Source manifesto we think that it is important for customers, community members, and people around XWiki projects to have a clear vision of our involvement and commitment towards it. This article will be a more in-depth look at why we hold these values close and why Open Source matters to us.

We build software that matters

Since the beginning, the goal has been to build a company that lasts and provides both a place where we could improve things step by step and an environment where we would enjoy ourselves while creating products useful to our customers and to the world. This is how XWiki came to be - with the realization that wikis matter. They help share knowledge and encourage people to grow when accessing more knowledge through companies or public wikis. Knowledge empowers individuals and allows them to become team members instead of task executors. For us, at XWiki "Knowledge is Power ... so it should be shared". 

 Open Source has been our main answer, knowing that by building software as Open Source it would still be there whatever happens.

Our passion for building a reliable, extensible enterprise product is one of the ingredients that has kept us going for the past 15+ years. And it's this drive that makes us wish for our products to reach the largest audience possible - from big to small companies, from business users to developers or nonprofits. We don't pretend to be big enough to be able to serve the whole world, but we want to extend beyond ourselves. Open Source helps us do that because we believe in competition and it's a model providing constant remindesr of the respect our customers are entitled to. It is also one of the main reasons why XWiki operates under the LGPL license - giving sufficient rights for users, while also binding them (including XWiki SAS, the company) to continue publishing under it. This is what guarantees the continuity of our commitment to Open Source, even if the investors/founders say otherwise.

...And support software that matters

This one would go against the grain if it weren't true. 

We embrace Open Source not only through the products we work on but also through the tools we use to do it. And since there are too many to just name them here, we've created an extensive A to Z list of Open Source tools we use, like, and recommend. We also have a directory where you can recommend any of your favorite Open Source tools and we'll add them.

We advocate for privacy and data proprietorship

When it comes to Open Source software, the control it offers to the users is one of its strongest points. We are aware of this and how it ties into the matters of privacy and owning your data. The progress of cloud as a more convenient system for users both in terms of usage and price, combined with the greed of businesses fighting for the "winner takes it all" spot, is driving us into a wall. At XWiki we had the opportunity to do something about it, so we took it - that's how CryptPad came to be.

With CryptPad, we wanted to build an Open Source alternative that users can believe in and support - allowing new types of applications that are "privacy by default" and "Zero-Knowledge", while aiming to allow end-to-end encrypted real-time document editing. Apart from breaking new technological ground with this project, we are also trying a new business model, through low-cost subscriptions and crowdfunding. At the same time, our aim is to keep things simple and easy to use while increasing the security level. We hope that if the tool is easy enough, then educated users recommend it to others as an alternative to the more popular/well-known solutions, even if it can't do it all. 

We enable transparency and encourage openness

At XWiki, we know transparency is key to successful collaboration, not only with the community but internally as well. This is why we have sought to build our internal communications on the very philosophy we operate: encourage initiative, free-thinking, and communication. There is a sense of respect in place for different opinions, which allows each employee to speak up and contribute while being confident that the work done is evaluated placing meritocracy as a basis. Ideas, suggestions, or feedback (even negative) should be communicated freely.

We've tried building an all-around culture that respects each employee and involves them in the decision-making process. While upper management provides the vision, it is the employees that refine it based on discussions and open communication. Additionally, XWiki employees receive stock options and can buy shares in the company. Having knowledge about how the company is performing, what needs to be improved, or what is planned for the future helps feel more personally involved with its goals.

We believe in the power of the community

When it comes to Open Source companies, they have something powerful up their sleeve proprietary companies may not - the community. Bound by a common drive to support a solution both the enterprise and community can benefit from, the Open Source community is, perhaps, the main reason for the success of Open Source software. And the wonderful thing about is it that it's made of strangers who choose to work together and unite toward a common goal: improving a solution they believe in. It is the easiest way to gain insight into the minds of the users by directly engaging with them and listening to their needs. 

It is not the company producing Open Source software that has the last word, it is the community that tells us what it needs and not what's "trendy".

At XWiki, it's not only us working on developing and enhancing the software. The community is always pitching in and contributing one way or another, making development an overall easier process, while also bringing fresh perspectives on what can be done or how it should be done. The collective power of a community of talented individuals coming together not only delivers more ideas but also helps us in terms of development and troubleshooting. This is why XWiki's development will continue to remain transparent as contributors report bugs, find fixes, or suggest new features. It's not only our team working on and benefiting from the product. It is also thousands of other people helping us improve it by letting us know what they need to achieve their own goals with it. The idea and possibility that anyone is able to contribute to making the software better are what allows us and any other Open Source business to thrive and why we're grateful for it.

In the end, Open Source is not an objective in itself, but a way to achieve many others. It isn't only about the software, but also about the people. It's also about being part of a project that serves people from everywhere around the world and helps them achieve their own goals. It's about creating a product that everyone can use, modify and adapt to meet their needs, all the while becoming invested in it. Open Source allows us to be useful to a community of people and it's a constant reality check when it comes to our relationship with customers and the respect they deserve. It's also why we believe so strongly that keeping our "freedom" is the best and safest way to achieve our goals and why we choose to trust, encourage and guide ourselves under these values. 

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