Facebook's TODO project is a big push to evolve open-source software

The project aims to improve how open-source software is developed and consumed

facebook Jay Parikh todo open source
James Niccolai/IDG News Service

Facebook has partnered with several big companies to kick off a new project called TODO, which aims to improve the quality of open-source software and make it easier to consume.

Facebook, Google and many other large organizations have come to rely heavily on open-source software to run their businesses, particularly their online operations.

But they feel there's room to improve how open-source projects are managed and organized, and even to improve the software itself. The TODO project -- which stands for Talk Openly, Develop Openly -- will address those goals.

"We want to figure out how we can raise the bar on the quality of open-source software projects in the world," Jay Parikh, the head of Facebook's infrastructure group, said at a conference in San Francisco on Monday.

The TODO project has two main goals. One is to make it easier for organizations to identify which of the thousands of open-source projects in existence are mature and reliable enough to be deployed at scale.

There are numerous open-source projects in the popular GitHub software repository, for instance, and it's not always clear which of those are regularly updated and maintained. Details are still being worked out, but it seems some projects will be marked as "TODO-approved" for use at scale.

The other goal is to provide a formal way for Facebook and its peers to exchange tips about deploying open-source packages. Much of that communication happens informally today, but the TODO project should make it easier for more companies, including some from outside the Internet industry, to tap into that knowledge. TODO also provides a place where members can share tools they've developed for managing open-source projects, so that they don't have to reinvent the wheel each time.

The initial members include many of the biggest online service providers, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and Box. They also include Walmart Labs, Dropbox, Khan Academy, Stripe, Square and GitHub.

TODO is open to any company that develops and releases significant amounts of open-source software, said Facebook engineer James Pierce, who wrote a brief blog entry about the project.

"TODO is a new open source collaboration formed to address the challenges that companies have encountered in consuming open source software and running open source programs," Facebook said in a statement about the group.

Separately on Monday, Facebook said it will open source mcrouter, a memcached protocol router that Facebook uses to handle all traffic between its caching servers.

"At peak massive scale, mcrouter handles close to five billion requests per second," the company said. More information can be found in the blog post here.

Facebook made its announcements at its @Scale conference, which brings together companies that operate at Web scale to talk about how they run their operations.

Serving more than a billion users, Facebook operates at massive scale and it wasn't immediately clear how relevant TODO will be for smaller organizations. The project is in its early days and there are many details to be worked out, Parikh said.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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