What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is most often a term applied to analyze the breadth of human impact on the natural environment and the availability of future natural resources to sustain human society. But it can also be thought of as the success of any project or design judged by it's achievement of, or contribution to, national well-being. What is the longer term impact of any project on it's contributors, users, and natural surroudings.

Sustainability in terms of software development projects may be defined as "the continuation of benefits after major assistance from the donor has been completed" (Australian Agency for International Development 2000). Ensuring that projects are sustainable can reduce the likelihood of them collapsing after they have finished and reduce dependence of the stakeholders on external donors and their resources. Thus, sustainability in development refers to processes and relative increases in local capacity and performance while foreign assistance decreases or shifts (not necessarily disappears). In this way sustainability is an issue that ripples wider than just the software or project under consideration; it's impact may be seen in the capacity that the project has imbued in it's members even after those members have left the initial project.

In OSS we must also consider the 'community' aspect as well. If a community has been established is this community sustainable, are the tools in place to facilitate high levels of interaction, can the code be easily viewed, is documentation up-to-date.

It seems clear that "care of community", responding to and meeting users' requirements and needs are of paramount importance. Most open source projects do not have skilled QA teams and testing is often seen as a burden to developers. Utilizing the community to test the software and providing adequate channels to report bugs and problems is crucial to the success of an open source project. eXe has provided two chanells for feedback from users: Eduforge, and two versions of bug tracking software, first Mantis, then Trac.


Last modified 10 years ago Last modified on 2009-05-22T06:12:37+09:00