The Apache Way

My particular path           

An Apache Way Primer

Shane's site to promote the Way

The Apache Way is sort of like Zen. It's something that's difficult to explain, has many interpretations, and the best way to learn it is to do it.

This is devoted to one interpretation of The Apache Way – the one that I've learned over the years of participating at The Apache Software Foundation. Many of the communities at the ASF believe that some form of The Apache Way is a great way to collaboratively develop software, and many individuals at the ASF exemplify the values of The Apache Way.

In one sentence – but wait, let's be serious: how could you describe even part of Zen in one sentence? The Apache Way is primarily about Community, Merit, and Openness, backed up by Pragmatism and Charity. The ASF as a whole promotes the use of The Apache Way within it's projects; indeed some of these concepts are required of it's projects. Many other organizations and especially open source groups have adopted or modified many of these same concepts.

Please note that this site currently explains Shane's own interpretation of The Apache Way, and is not endorsed by the ASF, although obviously I've attempted to document as much of the canonical version practiced by Apache projects as I can. Please see the Resources in the navbar for links to official ASF documentation on the website.


Many of us are more effective than one of us.

Community over Code is a frequent saying that exemplifies ASF projects. Community uses Openness and Merit, expressed through Collaborative and Consensus driven work, to build lasting projects that use a Pragmatic License. While a diverse community is a requirement for every ASF project, we also expect people to contribute as Individuals, and wear appropriate Hats.


Those that have proven they can do, get to do.

Merit defines who is allowed to participate at various levels within a project community. Users help a project over time, and existing Committers Vote to invite the user to become a committer. Committers are allowed write access to the project's source code, allowing them to imrpove the project. Strong communities rely on Openness in their work, usually on public Mailing Lists, to be able to recognize merit. Merit accurues to individuals regardless of affiliations, and typically does not expire.


Technical decisions are made publicly.

Strong communities can best function when work is done openly. All ASF projects use Mailing Lists as their primary means of working and communicating. Code is always publicly available, and Votes about all aspects of project direction are performed publicly, over a specific period of time – allowing contributors worldwide time to participate. Individuals participating in healthy communities make their affiliations public, and ensure that they are wearing an ASF contributor's hat when they are participating in the community. Releases of software products are voted upon publicly, and our code and decisions are always available for review. Openness allows new users the opportunity to learn. Every non-public mailing list at the ASF must have a specific reason to be kept private.


All ASF projects use the Apache License.

The mission of the ASF is to provide software for the public good. We use the Apache License to do this, which ensures that users of our software have the freedom to use our software however they see fit – even in proprietary products. Our steadfast belief in freedom for our users both serves our public purpose, as well as ensures that users from all areas are able to - and often desire to - contribute back to our communities. Our pragmatic license allows contributors from individuals to corporate teams to join together, secure in the knowledge that their product is freely usable by all.


The ASF's core mission is providing software for the public good.

The original Certificate of Incorporation ensures that the ASF operates as a public charity. The most important action the ASF does is providing useful software products to the world, for free. Many parts of the The Apache Way are a happy coincidence of altruism and selfishness. Many contributors believe in our service to the public, and contribute from a belief that we can make the world a better place. They work side by side with contributors who are simply “scratching their own itch”: people who simply want to fix their own problems, but who find it's often easier to do that in concert with others as it is to do alone.

Other Ways

More key concepts

What is the ASF?

About The Apache Software Foundation (ASF)

Established in 1999, the all-volunteer Foundation oversees more than 
sixty-five leading Open Source projects, including Apache HTTP Server 
-- the world's most popular Web server software. Through The ASF's 
meritocratic process known as "The Apache Way", nearly 300 individual 
Members and 2,000 Committers successfully collaborate to develop freely 
available enterprise-grade software, benefiting millions of users 
worldwide: thousands of software solutions are distributed under the 
Apache License; and the community actively participates in ASF mailing 
lists, mentoring initiatives, and ApacheCon, the Foundation's official 
user conference, trainings, and expo. The ASF is funded by individual 
donations and corporate sponsors including Google, HP, Microsoft, 
Progress Software, SpringSource, and Yahoo!

For more information, visit