MyEd and the Notifications Service are critical parts of students’ digital experience at the University of Edinburgh. Both are built on open source solutions which are supported, enhanced and extended by a global community of educational institutions working together.  This community offers great potential to uncover innovative ways to improve the student experience, at the University of Edinburgh and beyond. However, our approach to implementing these open source solutions is usually to maintain locally customised variations of the original solutions rather than contribute our features and extensions to the open source communities.

Local customisation often appears the quickest and easiest approach to adopting open source technologies, avoiding the need to generalise requirements and to consider the practices of the wider community.  However, this approach prevents us from fully realising the benefits of open source solutions:

  • Maintenance of customised code must be supported locally rather than benefiting from community support, increasing KSR costs
  • Upgrades are riskier and costlier, making a continuous improvement approach impossible, and preventing us taking advantage of enhancements in a timely way
  • We are unable to benefit from community enhancements to features we have customised locally
  • Collaborating with others on new features can deliver more than is feasible alone.

The longer-term costs of local customisations versus community contribution are often not properly considered at project initiation, or not deemed to be within scope. This makes it hard to justify additional costs which might allow a collaborative, open approach, enabling us to contribute our solutions back to the community.

This project will explore the potential benefits of a change in our approach to working with open source technologies by:

  • Implementing a community-developed enhancement identified as being of benefit to University of Edinburgh students
  • Evaluating the costs and benefits of this approach.

Current project status

Report Date RAG Budget Effort Completed Effort to complete
February 2019 BLUE 0.0 days 0.0 days 0.0

Project Info

Collaborate and innovate - exploring the benefits of contributing to open source software communities
Innovation Programme 2018/19
Management Office
Project Manager
Mary Elder
Project Sponsor
Jennifer Milne
Current Stage
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