NativLIMS will (likely) be based on FosWiki

(Ref Id: 1310068333)

The full story of the schism is a bit fragmented but sources appear to agree that actions associated with TWiki's commercialization brought about a negative reaction its own developer community.

A major component of the fork had to do with the use of the TWiki trademarked name. When TWiki went commercial and formed a corporation around the product there was confusion and uncertainty regarding the use of the name by independent consultants involved with the open source product. At the time of this writing, several years after this fork, there still does not appear to be a page on the TWiki.net (this is the corporate site, not the community website twiki.org) site that clearly defines the logo/trademark/servicemark usage guidelines. Even the TWiki.org website seems to have stopped short of providing a single, finished usage page (see the main portion of the TWikiTrademark page for this) with clearly laid out guidelines. If one were to assume that the large, bolded statement at the top of the page constitutes a trademark statement that should accompany one's own usage of the logo/symbol/etc. then one can see why the community would take offense -- it includes the twiki.net website in the statement, which is a commercial entity that did not exist when much of the functionality was created.

A word to the wise: Nowadays with open source projects you, as a developer, or a small entity engaging developers to work on a so-called open-source project, must realize that you undertake a substantial risk of losing the benefit of your contribution when participating on any project that lacks a formally approved and working non-profit organization at its helm. Although the product you are working on will ostensibly be covered by the GPL or one of its many variants if your eventual goal has anything to do with commercialization (for example, consulting, bundling of the product, etc.) you run the risk of getting into legal trouble regarding your use of the main product's trademarks in commerce without some form of explicit agreement. So long as the product is in the hands of a for-profit entity the risk of a quick shift in terms that prove unfavorable to external entities should be anticipated just as odd terms should be expected to appear in a 'handshake' contract.

Given that the developers flew the coop and formed FosWiki is the governance model and trademark name of FosWiki any different from its precedessor? The good news is that a non-profit organization is running the FosWiki initiative. The not-so-good-news is that, again, there is a lack of clarity regarding usage of the FosWiki name and logo by third parties. The website of the organization of developers who led the fork charge (WikiRing) does not even mention the product nor is its logo present. There is a blog at the site that discusses FosWiki heavily but it has not been updated in almost a year. This cannot be considered a very ringing endorsement. A recommendation page would be helpful; a usage guidelines publication would be better.

Here the central question is whether to continue building examples of a Wiki-based LIMS in TWiki or in the newer FosWiki. The TRIN website recommended by Paul Harvey provides a good example what what a group of scientists can do with a central wiki. Unfortunately it cannot, alone, serve as a suitable comprehensive example of a LIMS for two easy-to-see reasons: #1: many of the pages that contain forms and templates are password-protected by the scientists so you would need to obtain access before you could even begin your evaluation and #2, although this site appears to be a successfully allowing researchers with similar aims (Australian taxonomy) to collaborate with one another it does not appear to be an instructional site in this regard. There is an old Chinese proverb which applies here that goes something like this: when all doors are open, all doors are closed. This means that when there are too many options people simply have a tendency to shut down and make no decision at all. Organizations deciding whether to implement a wiki-based LIMS actually need to be able to boil that decision down to a set of checklists. Reviewing a live demonstration, impressive as it may be, must be done after the solution's specifications can be shown to match the organization's specific needs.

This being said, I am especially grateful that this information regarding the breakup of the developers from TWiki was brought to my attention. It helped me realize that an open source license is not enough -- you must also take a look at the organization running an open source project, its governance model, and licensing restrictions/provisions which may stand in your way of promoting and potentially profiting from your contributions to the solution.

As for the examples I was going to present here I think it would be best to refactor them for FosWiki and give them a unique name so as to differentiate them from other LIMS-like functionality and any other plugins/tools/addons that may exist. The aim here is is to avoid any trademark conflicts in the future. This umbrella name will be called NativLIMS to avoid confusion. The upcoming examples and discussion at this site will utilize this name from now on.

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Citation: NativLIMS will (likely) be based on FosWiki. (2011). Retrieved Sun Oct 22 02:23:01 2017, from http://www.limsexpert.com/cgi-bin/bixchange/bixchange.cgi?pom=limsexpert3;iid=readMore;go=1310068333