I have long believed in the power of Open Source to transform industries. Fifteen years ago I had frequent (sometimes heated!) debates with executives about the risks and opportunities of an Open Source Software strategy. Thankfully, those debates are now mostly settled, with Open Source Software ubiquitous in all of our lives, both here on Earth, and even in space! The Internet services that we use everyday are completely reliant on Open Source Software and every startup uses Open Source Software to reduce time to market.
At Clause, our engineers spend between 0% and 60% of their time contributing to Open Source software, with the time allocation largely dictated by role and the functional area they are working on. Approximately 75% of our overall bandwidth goes into working on the closed-source Clause product, creating an awesome experience for contract digitization and automation in the cloud.
Some Open Source software is strategic to the Clause platform we are building: the Cicero Smart Legal Contract templating system, the Concerto Modelling Language, and the Ergo domain specific language for legal logic. We are also make major contributions to the Accord Project Web Components, used to edit Cicero templates on the web.
As a company, we make significant investments in Cicero, Concerto and Ergo to benefit the Clause platform, but more importantly to be able to engage with the wider legal-tech community, to gather requirements, get feedback, bug reports, code contributions, and to ultimately create de facto or de jure standards for Smart Legal Contracts. Open Source is particularly important for legal-tech given the need for standards in law and network effects of legal practice. The existence of high-quality standards and implementations will grow the entire industry and spawn collaborations and integrations with partners, and of course if successful, competitors, creating more choice for all.
Our main Open Source contributors are listed below, however we are always looking for opportunities for our engineers to improve their skills and industry reputation by contributing to Open Source projects which are strategic to our legal-tech mission — or our underlying technical platform. We also occasionally publish some of our DevOps tools as Open Source.
- Jerome Simeon: Chair of the Accord Project Technology Working Group and Accord Project Maintainer
- Dan Selman: Accord Project Maintainer
- Matt Roberts: Accord Project Maintainer
- Jolene Langlinais: Accord Project Maintainer
- Diana Lease: Accord Project Maintainer
- Michael Grover: Accord Project Contributor (UX/UI)
- Petr Gazarov: Accord Project Contributor
We favour the permissive Apache-2.0 license, as it gives us (and partners/competitors) freedom to embed Open Source code in commercial products. It is a well understood, adopted, and respected license that has been “blessed” by most major enterprise software vendors and Open Source Software foundations.
We take our responsibilities as maintainers of Open Source code bases seriously, acting as guardians of quality and intellectual property. We’ve put in place many of the best practice tools and techniques used by successful Open Source communities: CI/CD, DCO, test coverage, contributor guidelines, etc. and Accord Project is now a Linux Foundation project.
Open Source is ultimately about collaboration. We’d love you or your company to get involved. It could be as small as reporting a typo on the documentation site, or as large as supporting a new execution platform for Ergo!
This summer we are very excited to be mentoring two Google Summer of Code students: Aman Sharma, working on editing Cicero templates inside MS Word, and Patrik Keller, adding a Web Assembly compilation target to Ergo.
Of course, we’re always thrilled to collaborate with potential Clause commercial partners as well.