AWS Open Source Blog

ClearlyDefined: Crowdsourcing Open Source Project Data


Amazon, like many other companies, relies on the use of open source software. Every software project has different requirements, but almost all have a need to manage open source as third-party software dependencies. When working with large numbers of dependencies, it can often be complex and time-consuming to track down up-to-date licensing and author information for some open source projects. Developers may be confused when a project changes licenses between versions, or when presented with multiple licenses with no clear indication as to which applies.

ClearlyDefined, announced today by the Open Source Initiative (OSI), helps to solve this problem by crowd-sourcing data for open source projects. Some software projects use well-known package managers and repositories that provide a direct route to discover a license, and ClearlyDefined can pull information from those repositories. Where that information is missing, interested individuals can help curate additional data. The end result is a single, unified way of discovering a project’s licensing and ownership.

Amazon’s Open Source Program Office is proud to support ClearlyDefined and the OSI in the mission of helping to improve the clarity of open source licensing. ClearlyDefined itself is run as an incubator project under the OSI, and anyone interested is welcome to participate in any capacity. The project is in its early stages, but is looking for those interested in contributing code, curations, metadata, and more. Check out the ClearlyDefined website and project on GitHub for more information.

ClearlyDefined screenshot

Jacob Peddicord

Jacob Peddicord

Jacob Peddicord is an engineer in Amazon's Open Source Program Office. He builds tools to help make open source easier to navigate and helps developers release their own open source software. Jacob thinks Rust is a pretty cool programming language and asserts that skiboards are the best snowsport. You can find him on Twitter at @jpeddicord.