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On 2014-05-21, Stian Soiland-Reyes posted to taverna-hackers:

Shoaib Sufi here in Manchester have been talking to Andy Seaborne with Apache about the possibility of moving Taverna ownership to the Apache Foundation - making Taverna an Apache Incubator project

The last years Taverna has been managed and primarily developed by the myGrid group at the University of Manchester, but with several contributors from around the world, not the least considering the growing list of plugins and integrations.

Taverna contributors have already signed License Agreements that grant University of Manchester a copyright license, for instance allowing a change of source code license.

Moving to Apache would mean changing the ownership of the code base to the Apache Foundation - which would then become the legal entity that release the software as opposed to University of Manchester. University of Manchester would still want to very much play an active role in the Taverna development - but we also prefer a more decentralized way we all work with Taverna.

Some reasoning for considering the Apache Incubator:

  • Encouraging more open development -- all discussions and decisions on the mailing list
  • Encouraging shared ownership of codebase - anyone can fix anything
  • Long-term sustainability - anyone can easily join development
  • Apache is recognizable "Brand name"
    • More justifiable for other entities to add "Extend Apache Taverna" to a grant proposal without needing to include Manchester
    • Apache's CLA, while very similar to Taverna's CLA, is more recognizable by legal entities (many organizations have already signed)
Now one can argue that most of these can be achieved without changing ownership, and that there are also other, more light-weight foundations that could take over the ownership. That is a valid argument that I think we should consider when deciding.

Some of the challenges with moving to Apache is that we would need to :

  • Move source code repositories to Apache hardware (but can keep mirrors on Github)
  • Change license from LGPL 2.1 to Apache 2.0 (In theory easy for all Taverna 2.x and 3.x code as Manchester has copyright or copyright license)
  • Remove dependencies that are LGPL or GPL (e.g. externalize as plugins, which they generally are already)
    • Split between Apache Taverna (Core) and more specific customization (following style of AstroTaverna)
    • Can we still include OpenJDK?
  • Check copyright on existing code (commit log) matching against signed CLAs we have on file
  • Show evidence of new contributors joining the Incubator project

If you think we should move to Apache, then be aware that the incubating process can take a while.

Andy said that for Apache Jena, which he was part of moving through Incubator, it took almost 2 years. However, during this process, most of the development continues to happen as before. Some changes, like moving repositories and mailing lists, are obviously disruptive right when they happen, but should not take too long. (Our recent move to Github took less than a week).

The myGrid team would obviously take a lead in the incubation process, specially on the legal side, but would also hope for contributions from the community during the process.

I would like to hear your views on the prospect of Taverna becoming an Apache Incubator project. If you would like to vote now (I don't think this count as formal vote yet), then you may respond as:

+1 (positive) 0 (undecided) -1 (negative)

This wiki page and its children contains considerations and evaluations with regards to a potential move of Taverna to the Apache Incubator process.


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