I've developed a small and useful library at work, I have permission from legal department, what are the steps I should take before, during and after open sourcing the project?

How would I transform a proprietary product to an open source project?

  • 1
    Have you selected a license for this library already? Jun 23, 2015 at 19:57
  • Plese define "commercial" product. Do you mean proprietary, aka not free?
    – user114
    Jun 23, 2015 at 20:00
  • @Tichodroma That is correct. Jun 23, 2015 at 20:05
  • 1
    Then please don't use ambiguous terms.
    – user114
    Jun 23, 2015 at 20:05
  • How did you go about getting permission from your legal department? I think that can be a significant hurdle in some organisations. Aug 24, 2016 at 21:52

1 Answer 1


There is a full book on the topic of making a project open-source: Producing Open Source Software by Karl Fogel. For your specific problem a chapter talks about Opening a Formerly Closed Project.

First you have to check, if something still shouldn't be released. Is some proprietary library used that needs to be replaced? Contains the buildfile the password to the FTP-server to upload the distribution? Contains the test-data private information? You should also check if older version in the version-control contain such information and maybe you want to start a new revision 1 to get rid of older revisions with stuff that doesn't need to be released.

Next would be some decisions. Which license do you want to use? Choose a license might help here. Add a file with the license to your code. You also need to add a file naming the author(s) of the code.

Add also a README or a similar file, explaining how to build the project. Add other explanations as needed.

Next would be the infrastructure. Do the project need a website? Do you create a public readable repository of the version control? Set up what is needed.

Finally announce the open source release.

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