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Apache Software Foundation cofounder Jim Jagielski on the evolution of open source

Jagielski, a Maryland resident, will give a keynote at the Mid-Atlantic Developer Conference, scheduled for Aug. 1 to 2.

Jim Jagielski. (Courtesy photo)
Full disclosure: is serving as a media partner of Mid-Atlantic Developer Conference.
Open source — and the collaborative, community principles that form the basis for its growth — is one of the bedrocks of building software.

It’s how many programming languages spread, and in recent months around Baltimore we’ve seen examples of freely available software powering a collaboration between Paris and West Baltimore and technologists building a new IoT security standard.

But that wasn’t always the case. For one, the concept is about 20 years old. Microsoft famously saw it as a threat, with former CEO Steve Ballmer calling open source operating system Linux a “cancer” before eventually coming around.

“We’ve seen open source go from this really unknown development strategy [where] there was a lot of FUD — fear, uncertainty and doubt,” said open source leader and Forest Hill resident Jim Jagielski, “to now open source is the de facto standard for how companies use and create software.”

There’s a chance to hear his thoughts in the area coming up, as Jagielski will discuss the evolution of open source over 20 years and the challenges and opportunities still ahead in a keynote at the Mid-Atlantic Developer Conference. The two-day event, which is designed to bring technologists from around the region working in all types of technologies, is set to take place Aug. 1 to 2 at the Maritime Conference Center in Linthicum. Ticket info is available at the conference website.

Around the time that open source came about, Jagielski cofounded the Apache Software Foundation. The group’s roots are in The Apache Group, founded 1994, and the Apache HTTP server, which was released in 1995 and quickly became the most popular web server. The foundation and the all-volunteer community it brings together has since supported more than 350 projects.

With both the Apache Software Foundation and open source being 20 years old, Jagielski sees this as an important time for reflection, and to look ahead.

Despite the early opposition 20 years ago, he said the advantages not only in building technology itself but also growing communities that contributed to its development have proved powerful. He joined the Apache Software Foundation board at the beginning, and was a leading voice as open source software went on to influence society widely. He also worked at Capital One as the financial services company was introducing open source software.

And as new forms of technology come about, the ideas and standards are also being applied in their development. That’s reflected in his current role as head of open source at Brooklyn-based ConsenSys, which is focused around developing Ethereum-based solutions.

Jagielski attended and spoke at the first Mid-Atlantic Developer Conference last year, and said he was impressed by the diversity of the crowd across both demographics as well as tech interests. He saw a reflection of the values of the open source community, which encourages everyone to get involved and views all contributions as useful.

The local area, too: “I’ve always been a big proponent of wanting Baltimore and Maryland to be more well-known as a tech community,” he said.

The talent coming out of the universities and the central location in the Mid-Atlantic are prime ingredients for growth, he said, and events like Mid-Atlantic Developer Conference further serve to raise the profile.

Companies: Mid-Atlantic Developer Conference

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