Open Source done right.

Open Tech Strategies provides expert advice and services to help organizations use the advantages of open source to reach their goals.


Our clients come to us for assistance launching, joining, evaluating, or influencing open source software projects, and sometimes because they seek transformative change along open source principles for their own organizations.

Open Source Licensing, Development Strategy, Developer Coaching, Release Processes
Open Source Software Development
Open Source Independent Verification and Validation
Non-profit Boot Up, Fiscal Sponsorship, Grant Fundraising
Partner Coordination / Consortium Design
Project Management
RFP Drafting and Responses
Due Diligence and Review of Companies and Projects
Community-based Development, Staffing
Code-a-thons, Developer Gatherings
Standards development

The Team.

Our partners and staff draw on decades' worth of experience to provide professional guidance that enables our clients to navigate the technical, cultural, and legal landscape of open source with confidence and repeatability.

Photo of James Vasile

James Vasile — Partner

> james {AT}

James Vasile has fifteen years experience as a user, developer, advocate and advisor in the free and open source software world. His expertise is in software licensing and community-building, as well as non-profit and small business startup. He focuses on free software and open source production, although his work and interests often take him far beyond the world of software. Much of what James does involves teaching people how to build successful businesses around free software and ensuring licensing alignment in multisource FOSS stacks. James's technical experience also allows him to act as outsource CTO/Architect, due-diligence open source expert, new venture advisor, fiscal sponsorship facilitator, and more.

In addition to his work with OTS, James was the founding Director of the Open Internet Tools Project, which during his tenure originated a variety of excellent community-based projects. These include Techno-Activism Third Mondays (a meetup that gathers people in over 20 cities around the world every month), the Circumvention Tech Festival (which has become the Internet Freedom Festival), and a 1000+ volunteer translation project now know as Localization Lab. He was also a founding board member and is now part owner of Overview Services, which makes open source software that powers Pulitzer-winning data journalism.

Previously, James was a Senior Fellow at the Software Freedom Law Center, where he advised and supported a wide range of free software efforts.

A former Director of the FreedomBox Foundation, James remains active in several technology development efforts. His FreedomBox work has been recognized by an Innovation Award at Contact Summit 2011 as well as an Ashoka ChangeMaker's award for Citizen's Media.

James frequently speaks and writes about technology trends and free software. His FreedomBox talk at Elevate Festival, for example, has been received well, and his writing on FOSS project management and work on extension licensing and derivative works have been widely read.

James was a founding board member of Open Source Matters, the non-profit behind Joomla. He began his career at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. You can learn more about him from his GitHub activity and his LinkedIn profile, or by connecting with him on Twitter.

Photo of Karl Fogel

Karl Fogel — Partner

> kfogel {AT}

Karl Fogel has been an open source developer, author, project manager, and specialist in collaborative development techniques for over two decades.

In 1995, he and Jim Blandy co-founded Cyclic Software, the first company offering commercial support for CVS, the free software version control system; in 1997 he added support for anonymous read-only repository access to CVS. In 1999 he wrote Open Source Development With CVS (Coriolis OpenPress). From 2000-2006, he worked for CollabNet, Inc as a founding developer in the Subversion project. In 2005 he wrote Producing Open Source Software: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project (O'Reilly Media).

He has since been an open source specialist at Google, at Canonical Ltd (where he helped release the code), at O'Reilly Media, and at Code for America/ Civic Commons, where he worked with non-profits and government agencies to release and manage open civic technology projects, among them the Federal IT Dashboard, OIC Weave, Change By Us, and San Francisco's Enterprise Addressing System.

Karl has been a board member at the Open Source Initiative, an Open Internet Tools Project Fellow at the New America Foundation, and is a member of the Apache Software Foundation.

In addition to his books, some of his articles on collaborative development are: " New York City Bus Tracking: Procuring for an Open Architecture", " What's the Return on Investment for Open?", and " Be Open from Day One, not Day N".

Further information can be found in his GitHub, Twitter, and accounts, among other places.

Photo of Cecilia Donnelly

Cecilia Donnelly — Open Source Specialist

> cdonnelly {AT}

Cecilia Donnelly is an open source developer and project manager. She previously worked at Chapin Hall and Metro Chicago Information Center (MCIC). Cecilia is particularly experienced with and interested in the technology needs of community-based non-profits.

For more about Cecilia, see her GitHub activity and LinkedIn profile.


These resources about starting and managing open source projects were either produced by Open Tech Strategies, or were written by or with significant involvement from people now at OTS.

Some Common Issues in Open Source Licensing

Whitepaper on common questions about open source licensing. Originally written for a client, and published (with the client's agreement) because it addresses questions we encounter frequently.

The ROI of Open

What is the return on investment of doing technology projects in an open source manner?

Be Open From Day One, not Day N.

Why open sourcing is easiest when done at the start of development.

Producing Open Source Software: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project

A freely-licensed, widely cited book about how to organize and run open source projects.

GPL Status of CMS Themes

An exploration of how the GPL applies to extensions in the Wordpress Content Management System. These concepts apply to many other CMS and web app structures as well.

Choosing a License

How to choose the right open source license for your project.

Releasing Open Source

A "how to release open source code" checklist.

Open Source Development Guidelines

General guidelines on how to run a project after it's open sourced, tuned especially for government projects.

A Legal Issues Primer for Open Source and Free Software Projects

A guide to common issues faced by free and open source software efforts.

The IT Dashboard, Six Weeks In

How an open source community looks shortly after code release (in this case, software released by a U.S. Federal agency working with a vendor). This gives a sense of how an early-stage open source community operates on a day-to-day basis.

An Overview of Open Source

Slides for a presentation about how open source projects work.


OTS is based in Chicago and New York. We are open to collaboration with people anywhere in the world who have good remote working skills.

Web Developer (Part Time)

> Status: filled.

Note: This position is now filled. We've left the posting up because it's been a useful reference for discussing the kinds of positions we tend to have, but we are now working with someone on this project and are not currently seeking anyone else.

We are seeking a part-time web developer for contract work on an open source code base written in a combination of PHP, HTML, and javascript. It's a fairly typical LAMP-stack system running on MySQL, doing authentication and authorization in normal ways, etc.

The ideal candidate will have experience using Git revision control, bug trackers, and have familiarity with standard open source processes, in addition to coding and debugging skills. This position requires an ability to communicate clearly in writing.

The amount of work is approximately 15 hours per week, with rate to be negotiated based on experience. Our client for this project is a coalition of Chicago neighborhood non-profit organizations, and the work will involve some direct communication with them, mostly around technical matters, for example requesting more information about reproduction recipes for bugs, or discussing enhancements and new features.

OTS is based in Chicago and New York, and this project is run out of Chicago. We are open to people anywhere in the world with good remote working skills.

If interested, please email jobs {_AT_} We favor candidates who have a visible open source profile — an account on a major open source project hosting site, a trail of participation in some open source projects, etc. If you have those things, please mention them in your CV or résumé.

Get in touch.

OTS collaborates all over the world with clients in industry, government and the non-profit sector. We look forward to working with you!

info {AT}
+1 (312) 857-6361