Box today unveiled a new initiative called Box Open Source for sharing its own homegrown open source engineering tools with the larger programming community.
In a joint phone interview today, Levie and Box’s principal technical operations developer Benjamin VanEvery said that the tools being shared today have been in development and used by Box engineers for several years now. “All of these are projects that we’ve used internally, and we’re excited to share with people externally,” VanEvery said. “Some include code that we’ve ported over from our main application trunk, and others are projects we knew others would want from day one, and have been built to one day be able to open up to the community.”
In unveiling such a program, Box joins the likes of Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Netflix and others in having a codified place for participating in the open source community. These kinds of initiatives have a two-pronged purpose: For-profit entities “give back” by sharing their own nifty projects with others outside the company. The companies stand to benefit, too, as their own tools can potentially receive useful contributions from people outside of their own full-time engineering teams.
Box Open Source will have strict standards for maintaining the quality of its projects so that others can count on these tools continuing to work well, VanEvery said. For example, he said, each project on Box Open Source has unit tests included, and Box will reject any pull request that doesn’t include unit tests of its own. “We’ll constantly be running builds,” he said. “Quality is really important.”
The Python programming language is strongly represented in the projects debuting on Box Open Source today, with top billing given to Python-oriented projects such as RotUnicode and Flaky. This makes sense, as the Box Open Source launch coincides with the annual PyCon programming conference being held this weekend in Montreal.
Levie said that we can expect more rollouts in a variety of languages in the months and years ahead. “This is really kicking off a much broader initiative. It’s the first phase of what we think will be a journey to putting out more of our technology in a range of projects in the open source community.”