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InnerSource Patterns

This repository contains the InnerSource Patterns collected by the InnerSource Commons. These patterns are InnerSource best practices codified in a specific format to make it easy to understand, evaluate, and reuse them.

Below you find what a pattern is, a list of known patterns, and how to use these patterns in your organization.

You are already using InnerSource in your company and want to share your ideas and experiences with the world? We would love to welcome your contributions!

Mission Statement

Our mission in this working group

  • Collect and document agreed upon best practices of how to do InnerSource - in the form of patterns
  • Continuously publish the most mature patterns as an ebook

List of Patterns

The below lists all known patterns. They are grouped into four stages of maturity.

Reviewed Patterns (proven and reviewed)

  • 30 Day Warranty - a pattern for getting a reluctant code-owning team to accept code submissions from outside their team.
  • Common Requirements - Common code in a shared repository isn't meeting the needs of all the project-teams that want to use it; this is solved through requirements alignment and refactoring.
  • Contracted Contributor - Associates wanting to contribute to InnerSource are discouraged from doing so by their line management. Relief is provided by formal contracts and agreements.
  • Dedicated Community Leader - Select people with both communications and technical skills to lead the communities to ensure success in starting an InnerSource initiative.
  • Gig Marketplace - Establish a marketplace by creating an intranet website that lists specific InnerSource project needs as "Gigs" with explicit time and skill requirements. This will enable managers to better understand their employee’s time commitment and professional benefits thereby increasing the likelihood of garnering approval to make InnerSource contributions.
  • InnerSource License - Two legal entities that belong to the same organization want to share software source code with each other but they are concerned about the implications in terms of legal liabilities or cross-company accounting. An InnerSource License provides a reusable legal framework for the sharing of source code within the organization. This opens up new collaboration options, and makes the rights and obligations of the involved legal entities explicit.
  • InnerSource Portal - Create an intranet website that indexes all available InnerSource project information. This will enable potential contributors to more easily learn about projects that might interest them and for InnerSource project owners to attract an outside audience.
  • Praise Participants - Thank contributors effectively to engender further engagement from them and to encourage others to contribute
  • Review Committee - A formal review committee is setup within an org to "officiate" particular inner source projects with resources, etc.
  • Service vs. library: It's inner source, not inner deployment - Teams in a DevOps environment may be reluctant to work across team boundaries on common code bases due to ambiguity over who will be responsible for responding to service downtime. The solution is to realize that often it's possible to either deploy the same service in independent environments with separate escalation chains in the event of service downtime or factor a lot of shared code out into one library and collaborate on that.
  • Trusted Committer - Many inner-source projects will find themselves in a situation where they consistently receive feedback, features, and bug-fixes from contributors. In these situations project maintainers seek ways to recognize and reward the work of the contributor above and beyond single contributions.

Reviewed Pattern Ideas (not yet proven but reviewed)

  • Modular Code - Management does not want to spend the extra resources needed to develop modular components and make them available in a visible repository for others to use.
  • Improve Findability - People can't find the internally developed solutions that they need due to poor naming conventions. This causes frustration in finding inner source solutions and a reduction in code reuse.

Pattern Drafts (proven, not yet fully reviewed)

Pattern Ideas (not yet proven; brainstormed)

Pattern Donuts (needing a solution)

What are InnerSource Patterns?

Patterns are a way of describing a repeatable, proven solution to a problem with a context. They follow a simple form that helps people wanting to implement the solution to understand the constraints on the problem, the forces that must be balanced and the resulting context (the situation you are left with after the solution is applied). In inner sourcing, patterns can provide a way for the InnerSource Commons participants to concisely share information with each other, improving the practice of inner sourcing. Each of the patterns are divided into Title, Problem Statement, Context, Forces, and Solutions as their main sections.

How can you use InnerSource Patterns?

Patterns must be used in a thoughtful manner. They cannot be blindly applied. In most cases, you will need to adapt the given solution to your own situation; but the information given in the pattern, defining the context (immovable constraints) and forces (constraints that can be changed and balanced against each other), should help you do this. Note that you will also need to determine if there are additional constraints (company context and company forces) that apply to your particular company/organization that must be added to the pattern (as a kind of filter). These additional constraints may require additional solution steps to be applied.

The pattern form is useful for describing proven patterns but it can also be used for brainstorming solutions where patterns are not yet established, since the form gives a structured way for thinking about a problem. You could also create a donut pattern (filling in the problem, context, forces and resulting context fields but leaving the solution blank) as a way of asking the InnerSource Commons community for help (to find a proven solution or to brainstorm things to try).

How to Contribute?

We welcome your contribution - be it small or huge! To learn more about how you can become a contributor, please see our file.

Related References


Creative Commons License

InnerSourcePatterns by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Proven approaches that can guide you through applying open source best practices within your organization





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