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How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For Me? 285

An anonymous reader writes "I am a biomedical researcher interested in having general-purpose, scientific programs developed and released as open source. Interface design and reusability of the code are of primary importance to me. For my purpose, Cocoa applications relying on Core Data seem to be the best way to get the job done quickly. While I have some programming experience, I have few connections to the industrial world. So my question to Slashdot readers is: how do I find someone (individual or business) to write high-quality programs? Are there reputable contractors experienced in Cocoa? What sort of rates should I expect, to use as a starting point in negotiations? Would a requirement that programs are released as open source make it more or less difficult to find someone to do the job?"
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How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For Me?

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  • er... (Score:5, Informative)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:28AM (#25675841)

    The same way you find regular programmers. Just ask them to document their code and have in the contract that the work done is work for hire. When the job is completed, you own the copyright. At that point, release it under the open source license of your choice. For details, consult the GNU website on assignment of copyright.

  • a few ways (Score:5, Informative)

    by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:30AM (#25675867)

    If you find a project similar to your needs on freshmeat, sourceforge, etc. you can always contact the developer and ask them to modify/extend, etc.

    A second option is to look at - put out a request, your budget, and include the requirement about being F/OSS software. Get your bids, make a choice, etc.

  • by Ngarrang ( 1023425 ) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:30AM (#25675869) Journal

    ...I should think you would be determining the end result of the program. If I read the question correctly, that is. You want to pay someone to write a program or programs. Then, you want to release them to the world as open source. The contractor would not own the code if as part of the RFC you stated the code would not be owned by them in any manner. The programmers may insist proper attribution in the source code, but attribution does not imply ownership.

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Friday November 07, 2008 @11:44AM (#25676111)

    The second half of his question is about pay rates and how to find programmers for hire. He does mention open source in the first half of the question though.

    It seems like he wants to scratch a personal itch, but he's willing to put up some cash for someone to scratch it for him. Then once it's working, open source it and have the community improve upon it. So it's not the typical open source scenario of "start it yourself, put it on sourceforge, then try to get people involved."

    I'm picturing this guy as an open source project manager. Eventually anyways. He's going to start out as a client to some programming firm. Then he'll take the code he paid for and open source it on sourceforge. Then he'll go through an open source recruitment phase. Finally, he'll be the one saying "we need this feature" and "I'm not accepting that patch."

    What I'd recommend is to read the commit logs and notes for a large project. Study your Linus Torvalds. Read how he manages kernel commits paying close attention to how he handles rejected submissions. And the occasionally poorly received edict (for instance, when Linus moved to a pseudo-proprietary source control system) might not be a bad study either, especially around the time of the split from XFree.

    Learn how to manage an open source project correctly, and your odds for success will greatly improve.

  • by mma ( 1151825 ) on Friday November 07, 2008 @12:06PM (#25676411)

    Post your job offer to the mailing list of any projects listed in the subject:
    - Osirix (
    - VTK (
    - ITK (
    - Slicer3d (

    They are all 'BSD' type, meaning familiar with both the open source people and the industry !


  • Re:Cocoa? (Score:4, Informative)

    by mebrahim ( 1247876 ) on Friday November 07, 2008 @12:07PM (#25676415) Homepage
    For 1000th time: It is not QT, it is Qt. QT is QuickTime.
  • Re:er... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07, 2008 @12:27PM (#25676639)

    Under English law, at least, this is entirely wrong. You will need to specify in the contract that any IPR developed belongs to you, and that the developer will take all steps to perfect this, including undertaking assignments.

    The developer is the author, and thus the default owner of any copyright work (source code) - as the commissioning party, you get nothing more than a limited licence, unless you specify it in the agreement. Plenty of companies have got caught out by this, and think that, by paying for development work, they necessarily own it.

  • Bioinformatics (Score:2, Informative)

    by bakuun ( 976228 ) on Friday November 07, 2008 @01:11PM (#25677135)
    The field of bioinformatics is basically all about developing software to solve biomedical informatical problems.

    If you want somebody to develop a program to solve a scientific problem in the biomedical domain, it is likely that what you need is a bioinformatician.

    The asker does not mention in what context he is doing research. If at a university, offer the problem for bioinformatics msc students that need to come up with something for their dissertation project (or even as a phd project if the problem is considerably larger).

    If the asker works in industry rather than academia, student placements would still be possible (offering a connected studentship), or simply hiring a bioinformatician.

  • Re:er... (Score:3, Informative)

    by pdbogen ( 596723 ) <> on Friday November 07, 2008 @01:35PM (#25677381) Homepage

    Although Parent presents himself as being only correct regarding English law, the main thrust of what he says also applies to US Copyright law.

    Refer to [] for information about this.

    I don't have a car analogy, but it's pretty important to read and understand the document.

  • Re:Cash. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ideally Nowhere ( 1384225 ) on Friday November 07, 2008 @01:39PM (#25677435)
    OR, sucker a bunch of graduate students into doing it for credit/thesis. You just need a professor to go along with it, which involves promise of money.
  • Re:er... (Score:4, Informative)

    by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Friday November 07, 2008 @03:56PM (#25679877)

    Oh my! Only Macs can edit video?

    That's weird and here all these years I thought Avid MC systems running on Windows were the mainstay of feature film and television editing.

    No editing applications for Linux worth a damn? Bizzare and here I thought Smoke combined with FFI were the ultimate online conforming tool for ads.

    No compositing tools? Shake, Nuke and Fusion aren't enough? All of which have or have had Windows, Mac and Linux builds.

    Adobe sucks? That's why every single VFX workstation on earth has a copy of Photoshop? And here I thought all these years it was because it continues to offer the latest and greatest in 2D tools.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07, 2008 @06:47PM (#25682701)

    If I wanted to find a good Cocoa engineer to do a scientific application there are a couple of things I would consider:

    1) Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.
    Mac OS X has a very strong penetration into many scientific disciplines, few more so than the life sciences. This has been reflected at Apple's annual gathering of the creme-de-la-creme developers mid-summer in S.F. For the last 7+ years there have been many diverse science related sessions, gatherings, poster sessions, etc at the conference. It would be a great place to get to know some of the many hundreds of best scientific coders.

    2) MacResearch
    Over at you'll find a huge number of technology oriented researchers and forums where you might be able to gather a critical mass of interest in a project or even someone to code it for you.

    3) Software lists
    Check out the many lists of Mac OS X scientific software out there. You might find that it, or something very similar, has already been developed. Here's a very non-comprehensive list to start with...

    4) Unix software
    It is usually open source, a good programmer can usually recompile it for Mac OS X in a very short time and it makes a great starting point for a conversion to Cocoa.

    5) Respond to Apple's Call for Science Apps
    (see the grey bar bottom of the page)
    Give them a good business case for your app and the good people on Apple's science team in marketing and worldwide developer relations may be able to help.

  • Re:er... (Score:3, Informative)

    by pdbogen ( 596723 ) <> on Friday November 07, 2008 @10:16PM (#25684479) Homepage

    The issue here (which *can* be confusing) is that hiring a contractor is not implicitly "work for hire," and, thus, the contractor would own the copyright and be considered the author.

    The crux of it is that a contractor isn't an "employee." A good rule of thumb is that someone who is paid a salary or wage and receives benefits is an employee. After that, it becomes less clear.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault