InnerSource refers to the application of open-source software development practices to develop private code within organisations.
Within the Government, InnerSource helps encourage open sharing for systems, software modules, templates, and sample code that fulfills best practice guidelines. This allows the community of developers across the Whole of Government (WOG) who face common engineering, security and policy compliance challenges to reuse and adapt these resources for their projects. It also creates a culture of collaboration and fosters the production of higher-quality code within the Government.
The objectives of InnerSource are as shown below:
- It expedites development by allowing the discovery and reuse of ready-made or “off the shelf” components. This removes the need to develop everything from scratch with custom code.
- The InnerSource practice of sharing code between different groups creates higher quality projects and more secure code as more reviewers with diverse experiences can collectively examine, test, and refine a project.
- It creates a developer community among developers from diverse backgrounds. This creates a networking platform for developers and produces collaborative mentorship opportunities.
- InnerSource promotes the practice of transparency in the Government. Through open and shared decision-making, trust and alignment across the WOG is cultivated.
Adoption of InnerSource resources is applicable to WOG digital transformation projects.
Target Audience and Adoption Criteria
InnerSource is applicable and encouraged for all government software engineers and vendors involved in digital transformation projects
Onboarding of SHIP-HATS is recommended for government officers and vendors to initiate InnerSource. This is because SHIP-HATS is the primary platform for government developers and vendors to host their code repositories, track issues and collaboratively share project documentation. Access to the SHIP-HATS code repository platform allows software engineers to find properly tagged InnerSource code repositories, clone and integrate the innersourced code into their projects, as well as write and contribute enhancements and modifications back to the InnerSource code repository. To identify InnerSource projects, look out for the InnerSource label in the SHIP-HATS repository.
SHIP-HATS is open for onboarding by all government officers. To initiate onboarding, officers can fill up this form. For vendors, a government agency must extend SHIP-HATs subscription to an assigned vendor before access can be granted.
Standards, Guidelines and Assessment Criteria
For government project teams that are keen to InnerSource their projects, the following criteria can be considered:
- Whether the code is reusable or contains shared information for adaptation and learning by other projects. For example, this may include modular components with customisable parameters that allow for adaptation and integration into the software code of other projects and the presence of documentation. This will allow developer communities to learn how to use the software module, modify the code and contribute enhancements to the innersourced code repository.
- If it will be more useful to share smaller components instead of an entire project. There is benefit in sharing both if resources allow it.
- Whether the project contains classified code with restricted access and cannot be shared or reused.
- If the project code is free of IP ownership restrictions and can be licensed under a permissive government license.
For more guidelines on InnerSourcing projects within the Government, click here.
Resources and Templates
InnerSource Working Group: GovTech has initiated an InnerSource working group for WOG members to collaborate and discuss how InnerSource works in Government. Reach out through this form to join the group.
FAQs on InnerSource can also be accessed through this link.
Technical documentation for InnerSource practices can be found here.
The Singapore Government Tech Stack (SGTS) is an example of InnerSource within the Government. This is because most SGTS products have innersourced their source code to allow greater collaboration, sharing and reusing of codes across Government.
More updates on InnerSource will be shared when the enhanced SHIP-HATs platform is available in Q3 of FY22.
To find out more about WOG InnerSource, reach out to us through this form.
Last updated 19 May 2022
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