Considering OCIO --> ASWF

Larry Gritz <l...@...>

Hey, everybody. We're thinking about applying to turn OpenColorIO governance over to the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), and they are very enthusiastically seeking our application. Before we get that underway, I want to make sure there's a chance here to air any reservations or objections so that we can move forward with a high degree of community consensus, and to answer any questions you may have about the process.

ASWF got a lot of publicity at SIGGRAPH, so I'm going to presume you all know its significance and relevance to us and the basic value proposition. But do speak up if you want more explanation, and I'm happy to expand on it.

I think there are several reasons why turning over governance to ASWF is good for this project:

(1) It emphasizes that OCIO really is a work of and for the VFX community as a whole and shouldn't be thought of as an "Imageworks project", especially in light of the new infusion of contributions from Autodesk and elsewhere. Having it be underneath the foundation's umbrella should be a help to adoption and contributions, versus continuing to be thought of as belonging to one studio.

(2) There are a variety of licensing, legal, and other issues that will be nice to turn over to a neutral party that likely can manage it better, and can do so with close coordination and uniformity with other projects in the ecosystem.

(3) It lets us use the shared infrastructure and engineering support from LF for continuous integration, artifact archival (i.e. compiled release binaries people can directly download and install!), and release management tasks, that are being coordinated and dedicated to ASWF projects. (That's where a lot of the money from the corporate members is going.)

(4) The corporate members not only fork over the $$, they also have to pledge a certain amount of engineering effort to open source. The first couple years (when there is a paucity of ASWF projects), it can go to any project that seems important in the ecosystem, but eventually it will be tightened and fulfilling the engineering obligations of the members will be expected to be dedicated as much as possible to ASWF projects. So by being an official ASWF project, OCIO is more likely to be the recipient of that engineering effort.

(5) OCIO has, to be honest, had some periods when it lacked a strong and consistent leadership, design direction, and implementation contributions. It's pretty healthy right now, but being part of this organization I think is also insurance for the future, to help us with organization, resources, and coordination if and when needed or in times of crisis.

If we go ahead with this, on a day-to-day basis, not much would change. The open source license we use (BSD) would remain the same. The copyrights would continue to be held by the individual authors or their companies. There might be a new CLA (or equivalent), perhaps a common one for all ASWF projects, and maintained by them rather than by Imageworks. Maybe the official canonical repo would eventually move from imageworks to the AcademySoftwareFoundation account on GitHub? But the same developers would work in the same way, the same people would have commit privileges, our process for developing and setting the design and engineering direction would remain as before, all by the same people. There's no micromanagement from above; the healthy projects run their own communities, unless they need help. There might be a more formal notion of a technical steering committee for the project, with the organization helping to facilitate the stakeholders staying in contact. An accepted project gets to elect a representative to the overall ASWF Technical Advisory Committee. I think that covers all the bases of what we'd see on the ground.

I want to emphasize that we haven't made the formal application yet, the ASWF has not yet accepted the project (though since they have solicited our application, our odds are good), and also Sony Imageworks (the current owner/sponsor) has not yet formally committed to the change in governance. But before proceeding further on any of those fronts, I want to make sure this is aligned with the goals and sentiments of the OCIO stakeholders.

Questions or discussion? Pros/cons as you see it?

Larry Gritz
l...@... / l...@...

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