Open Source Archetypes:
A Framework For Purposeful Open Source

“Open source” means many things to many people. Many kinds of projects get grouped under the label "open source", and they may operate in very different ways. Sometimes it helps to think through how an effort’s open source approach matches its goals, resources, and environment. Our field guide to Open Source Archetypes is designed to help with that thinking, by providing a common vocabulary to discuss open source in ways that take account of important differences:

Cover of Open Source Archetypes v2 report.

The guide describes and compares a number of project archetypes we have observed. We prepared it in partnership with Mozilla; our organizations and others have found it useful in deciding how to invest in open source endeavors. (See also this slide deck, which gives an overview of the archetypes and some details on the most common ones.)

We hope the archetypes are useful to you as you design open source initiatives, weigh tradeoffs in strategy, and pick metrics to track success. The archetypes we list are useful comparison points for anybody trying to maximize the benefits of their open source investment.

Archetypes Described

Wide Open Rocket Ship to Mars
B2B Open Source Specialty Library
Multi-Vendor Infra Mass Market
Upstream Dependency Trusted Vendor
Controlled Ecosystem Bathwater
Single Maintainer Houseplant

Quick Reference

Page 27 of the report is a Quick Reference guide to the archetypes. While we recommend reading the whole report, we make the quick-ref available as a separate PDF here for convenience:

Open Source Archetypes Quick Reference Guide (p. 27)


"Open Source Archetypes" is published under a CC-BY-SA license and its LaTeX source is available here.