The open company test

Apr 02 2005

Let's play the open company test of Jonathan Nolen:

  • Open Sourcecode: Do you have access to the sourcecode? True open source is great, but simple access to the source code, even if it's not under an open source license, is often enough.

YES, as open-source. This is the true openness, since it allows to get rid of the commercial relationship you have with the company in most cases.

  • Open Data: Can you easily get your data into or out of the application, should the need arise?

YES: not only you have open data (output by XML-RPC, usage of standard Radeox module for the syntax, output in RSS, XML, etc..) but you have also the code which allows to manipulate the data.

For me given the complexity of 2nd generation wiki, open data almost makes any sense if you don't have access to the tool to manipulate it. 

  • Open APIs: Can your other software interact with the application? The best applications provide different means of access: GUI, command-line, RSS, SOAP or REST, for example. These additional avenues of access enable you to build more complex and customized solutions using the product. Remember the philosophy of small pieces, loosely joined.

YES: XWiki's API allows to create/read/search XWiki data. You can do it in Java, in XWiki pages itself. XML-RPC API allows to manipulate wiki data in a standard way (Confluence API).

  • Open Pricing: Can you easily find out from the company's website how much the product costs, or do you have to talk to a sales-person? If it's the latter, they're hiding that information for a reason.

YES: pricing of is available on the pricing page and support/dev services are available on the XPertNet services page.

  • Open Bugtracking: Can you access the real bug tracking system (not a neutered, customer-only bug ghetto)? Not all bugs (like security bugs) or information (like resource assignment) must necessarily be available, but the more the better.

YES: see and the community site dev zone at

  • Open Feature Voting: Can you vote for your most critical issues and influence, to some degree, the allocation of development resources? There is obviously no guarantee, and there are dozens of factors that determine which bugs or features will be worked on in a given time period. But a user-visible voting system allows you to know that your voice is being heard and see how your request is balanced against other influences to effect the product.

YES: features suggestions and discussion happen on

  • Open Communication / Open Community: Are you able to communicate with other users and with the developers of the product? There are many venues where this communication can occur: mailing lists, discussion forums, blogs (both employee author and customer authored) or wikis. But the critical threshold is the participation of company employees who are capable of understanding problems and offering solutions -- not just human firewalls whose only job is to make sure that the riff-raff doesn't disturb the developers.

YES: the web site ( contain many resources in this area. You can subsribe to the user and developers mailing list. XWiki employees do answer regularly questions on the web site and user list.

  • Open Documentation: Can users contribute to the product documentation? As I mentioned here, allowing users to help each other creates better, more accurate documentation. Knowledge hard-won through actual deployment and use should be shared as efficiently and directly as possible for the benefit of all.

YES: The user and developers mailing list do exist. The collaborative FAQ allows users to add questions or even responses. It has happened many times that I have given anwsers through the support requests or Instant Messenging and the FAQ entry has been created by the user.

  • Open Customer Support: Can you see tech support issues filed by other customers? Not every customer issue is appropriate to share with the world, but openness should be the default. Learning from other user's problems can help prevent your own.

YES: The customer support are sent to These are loaded automatically in Bugzilla: Anybody can browse the answers.

It would indeed be interesting to add a little to these tests:

  • Open Ownership: Is the company transparent about who owns how much of the company ? Can customers buy share of the company they help to build by being the first users !

PARTLY: I currently own 100% of XWiki. Participations for additional participants are un the works. I wish I could actually propose shares to users, but it seems that this is difficult in the French law.

  • Open Sales Results: How many paying customers does the company really have ? With startups having money invested they can much more easily dump the market with products without actually having real customers. Having fair access to each's competitor real customer list you could measure the 'real' interest in a product.

PARTLY: Currently the number of open wiki is available on the home page. I talk on my personal Blog (in french) about contracts signed and the status of XWiki. I'm evaluating giving more information once the subscriptions services are activated.

  • Open Financial Results: SEC rules impose publishing of financial results. This is done for fair access to financial information and not for customers of these companies. However open financial results is a key information to understand if you are making a serious investment in a company that is solid.

PARTLY: I talk on my personal Blog (in french) about contracts signed and the status of XWiki. It is difficult to tell everything in this area.