I asked Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk, about the success of their Open Source experiment with MapGuide and its applicability to other markets that they serve. He commented that the effort has been a success based on the large number of users, but that Open Source was a bit of a ‘last gasp of the commoditization of desktop software.” He mentioned that the push toward mobile and cloud computing have eclipsed the interest in open source as a means to extend software capability, and that the phenomenon in the geospatial space that made this the right move doesn’t translate well to other markets that Autodesk serves.
I’m sure that Autodesk has gotten more than their money’s worth, particularly with ongoing efforts on the integration front with their FDO data access technology that in turn can be channeled in their own solutions. This means of integration that FDO permits benefits from larger community use, and the kinds of solution-focused efforts that take place in the Open Source development area provide a great incubator for extending these capabilities.
My underlying intent with the question was to understand better how Autodesk approaches the inclusion of outside developers. They have a much more flexible platform approach that has enabled more open operating system environments, with products on iOS (for iPad and iPhone) as well as the Mac desktop. They also have had the need to integrate more of their product acquired through acquisition that have facilitated a more componentized approach. What we haven’t seen yet, is a more open development environment that provides this underlying technology as a platform for development for custom solutions and services, and I’m guessing that there is little interest in taking that approach.