Since I started working on the TextUML Toolkit more than a year ago, I have been asking myself whether it would make sense to make it available under an open source license.
Open sourcing a product is a tough decision. Once you take that road, there is no way back, at least not without risking a backlash from the community (of course, if you managed to build a community). And even though there are more and more examples of successful businesses built on top of open source offerings, they are still the exception. However, from day one, my plan for the Toolkit has always been to give it away for free. Going from “free-as-in-beer” to “free-as-in-speech” is not nearly as traumatic.
I resisted to the idea while I was working on releasing version 1.0, as I considered it as potentially distracting and of questionable value, as then I knew exactly what I wanted to ship and how to get it done. However, now that 1.0 is out of the way, it seems the right thing to do. The first release provided a good starting point, but the project certainly needs more hands on deck to get to the next level. It is also clear that an open source license means a lot when you are catering to a developer audience.
So, you heard it here first: the next release of the TextUML Toolkit will be licensed under the Eclipse Public License. The source code is already available on SourceForge, and user forums and issue tracking are now also hosted there.
Using the tool, spreading the word, asking and answering questions on the forum, reporting problems and requesting features are all great ways of helping. Regarding new features, the project needs help on two main fronts: broader coverage of UML (state machines, activities), and better IDE features (such as content assist, templates, symbolic search and refactoring). If you like the textual notation approach, the tool, and feel like you could lend a hand, please do, the TextUML Toolkit needs you!