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Large-scale open-source projects face a litany of pitfalls and difficulties. Problems of contribution quality, credit for contributions, project coordination, funding, and mission-creep are ever-present. Of these, long-term funding and project coordination can interact to form a particularly difficult problem for open-source projects in an academic environment.

BioPerl was chosen as an example of a successful academic open-source project. Several of the roadblocks and hurdles encountered and overcome in the development of BioPerl are examined through the telling of the history of the project. Along the way, key points of open-source law are explained, such as license choice and copyright.

The BioPerl project current status is then analyzed, and four different strategies typically employed by traditional open-source projects at this stage are analyzed as future directions. Strategies such as soliciting donations, securing grants, providing dual-licenses to enhance commercial interest, and the paid provision of support have all been employed in various traditional open-source projects with success, but each has drawbacks when applied to the academy. Finally, the construction of a successful long-term strategy for BioPerl, and other academic open-source projects, is proposed so that such projects can navigate the difficulties.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Open source software, Intellectual property, Perl (Computer program language), Bioinformatics, License agreements