If you want to host an open source hardware project today, you have to cobble together wikis, forums, online polls, blogs, and online file storage to share your materials. Then you have to send the link (or links) to your “system” to the people you already know who might be interested in participating. For a person who just wants to start designing and building cool stuff all that pre-work is a giant pain in the you-know-what.
So is it any wonder that most makers interested in open sourcing their designs tend to skip that step, do all the work themselves and then just release the final designs on the web when they get around to it?
There has to be a better way.
In order for open source hardware to become as prevelant and influential in the hardware community as FOSS is in the software community we need a way to integrate the required services into a single system, as well as provide a destination for users looking for open source hardware projects to build or to extend to get involved in the community.
Enter Open Design Engine.
ODE is based on the open source software Redmine and is licensed under the GNU General Public License v2 (GPL). ODE is being distributed in a similar manner to WordPress. Which means there will be a version available for download that users can install on their own servers (like http://wordpress.org) and a hosted version where users can register accounts and host projects (like http://wordpress.com).
Version 0.1 of the site is up and running at https://opendesignengine.net, but before user accounts can be made available to the public, V0.2 must be completed.
Version 0.2 focuses on the four features required to allow public users to create accounts and share their projects on our server. Those four features are:
- Requiring users to agree to the website's Terms of Service by developing a Redmine plugin similar to Drupal's Legal plugin. Users will be prompted to agree to the Terms of Service at account creation and any time there are changes to the Terms of Service.
- Requiring users to use approved open source licenses to license there projects by developing a Redmine plugin. Users will be prompted for licensing information when they create new projects.
- Allowing users to insert donation drive widgets from sites such as Kickstarter, Pledgie, and ChipIn in their project descriptions and wiki pages by developing a Redmine wiki syntax extension plugin.
- Adding support for Git repositories to our hosting server. This will give users who need source code version control the option of using either Subversion (available today) or Git.
Please note, all three of the new Redmine plugins will be open source.
Mach 30 will work with the Ruby-on-Rails development company Littlelines in Dayton, OH to build V0.2 of the site once this project is funded. Should we raise more funds than are needed for V0.2 we will continue to add features based on the project roadmap.
How you can helpMake a $25 donation. In addition to helping promote the development of the Open Hardware movement in general, your donation of $25 (or more) will get you early access to the hosted version of ODE--which means you’ll be among the first people to have an easily accessible web home for the development of your latest open source hardware project.
Want to do more?If a production-ready Open Design Engine or these new Redmine plugins are worth more to you than $25, please feel free to make a larger donation. The faster we raise the required funds, the sooner Open Design Engine will have everything you need to host your projects.
As is the tradition on Kickstarter, your support will be appropriately rewarded at whichever level you choose.
Thanks for your participation!
This is probably "The Question" of ODE, why does open source hardware need its own portal? Indeed there are many examples of projects choosing one of the existing portals that were developed to host software. I believe there are a few reasons to have a dedicated portal for hardware which ODE is meant to address.
a. In my experience, most full featured CAD packages (I cannot speak to EDA tools as I have not really used them in my work or academic career) are still trapped in binary file formats. Neither the files, nor most of the users that I know who use them, are well suited to using source code control tools. This is why we have included an alternative document management system in the list of core features.
b. One of the goals of ODE is also to expand the scope of projects being developed as open source hardware, by creating a platform that can be used for larger projects (because our ultimate goal is to build open source spaceflight hardware). Consider projects on the scale of senior design projects in undergraduate engineering programs. These can include as many as 20-30 students from several fields of study at some schools. Once teams reach this size, it is essential that they break out into sub-teams along functional lines. ODE's first class sub-projects allow for these sub-teams to work within their own area (even choosing the set of project features that they need on a per project basis) while still being grouped under the top level project allowing them to communicate with the other sub-teams as needed.
c. When I first became aware of open source, I started looking for replacements of many of my go-to programs with open source equivalents. And if I needed a new program I would look for an open source tool first. In both cases, my initial reaction was to head over the Source Forge and use their search because it was THE place one hosted their open source projects at the time. I think the open source hardware community would be well served by having a place where professionals and home users turn to when they are looking to fabricate a new thing to see of there is already a good set of plans on the internet. And when I say thing, I mean anything from an RC Airplane to a table to a breakout board to a tractor, literally anything.
d. Finally, I think there are going to be many, many features we have not thought of yet that the open source hardware community would really benefit from in a project management portal, but will not necessarily rise to the level of notice at the sites catering to software projects, but that will be key for a dedicated site like ODE.
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