Calls: Send in your ideas. Deadline April 1, 2024

Support services

Supporting quality and maturity of digital commons

The NGI Zero coalition offers support services to free and open source projects within the Next Generation Internet initiative. Goal is to improve the quality, maturity and inclusiveness of the digital commons. To reclaim the public nature of the internet we need shared building blocks which are accessible, sustainable and secure.

Type of support services

In order to deliver technology that is useful to the widest possible range of users, projects can request support with accessibility, security, open source licensing compliance, packaging, translation and standardisation. Other services aim to support the sustainability of the project and the well-being of its community such as diversity and inclusion management, community building, mentoring, and advise on governance and new business & sustainability models.

Who can request support?

Grantees from the entire NGI ecosystem, past and present, can request support services (so not just those within NGI Zero programmes). Grantees who are currently active in an NGI Zero programme can request support services as part of the programme they're part of. Grantees of the wider NGI ecosystem and those who already concluded their NGI0 project, can request support services through the NGI Zero Review programme.

These services are available upon request and with limited supplies (first come, first serve!) — we recommend you don't wait too long with requesting support.



Our support services

Accessibility

  • Accessibility best practices and tooling for self-tests
  • WCAG audit of project results

Webinar about this support service
Watch the recording of the webinar on accessibility with Charlotte Swart who leads the auditing team for NGI0 projects. She shares the most common issues and gives a live demo of an accessibility audit.

Inclusive design makes it possible for everyone to use technology. Many more people than you might assume suffer from small but blocking issues in using technology. These hamper their careers, education and — and often unnecessarily so. Small adjustments can make a world of difference, but how do you know which adjustments are needed so that color-blind people can use your app, people with a tremor can fill out a form or people with limited cognitive abilities can figure out what to do.

Who

Accessibility support is delivered by HAN University of Applied Sciences, dept. Inclusive Design & Engineering — one of the core competence building centres of accessibility in the Netherlands, with significant in-house expertise on accessibility auditing.

Diversity and inclusion management

  • Help build a more diverse developer community
  • Receive wider input, more representative of the global and heterogeneous internet
  • Gender Evaluation Methodoloy (GEM)

The internet is for everyone, not just for the lucky few. What do you know about global needs and constraints, and about best practises for open source projects to improve diversity? How to structure a project to avoid negative interactions within your community such as rudeness, name-calling and stereotyping? How to embed the perspective of the global South, where people do not all have the latest smartphone or 5G connectivity. We can help connect the projects to non-obvious communities, so you can directly interact with them.

Who

Diversity and inclusion support is delivered by Association for Progressive Communications — A global network and organisation that strives towards easy and affordable access to a free and open internet to improve the lives of people and create a more just world.

Community building and mentoring

  • Best practices community building
  • Strategic advice on developing project sustainability

The mentor organisations can help projects consider the phase after their grant runs out: setting up crowd funding, applying for additional grants, starting a company or building an ecosystem of partners that are interested in sustaining the project. The mentoring organisation have experience with each of these scenario's, and can assist with practical tips and contacts.

New projects are filled with energy and ambition, but sometimes you need some outside wisdom and experience. We offer support from two different mentor organisations, each with a strong reputation in building FOSS communities and versed in their structure, ethics, and values. Mentors offer a listening ear when you need it, and help make connections to other relevant efforts inside and outside of NGI. They offer practical lessons learned from rich experience with many other projects, and can help to solve communication problems and startup challenges. They help understand and cultivate the NGI Vision inside the projects, and act as bees cross-polinating new developments and best practices. Everything needed to make sure the project can target what it set out to accomplish.

Who

Mentoring is delivered by Center for the Cultivation of Technology — a charitable non-profit host organization for international Free Software projects — and

Copyright and license due diligence

  • Best practices copyrights and license compliance
  • Assist with tooling and creation of SPDX headers
  • Legal strategy on emerging copyright issue

Webinar about this support service
Watch the Free Software Legal Education Workshop. FSFE explains the legal basics of of licensing and gives a demonstration how to make licensing your Free Software projects easier.

A lot of software starts off with existing source code, as there is plenty of that available on the internet — and it is not always clear whether there is a proper open source license attached. For developers under time pressure, eager to get results and functionality out the door sooner rather than later — and not everyone is aware of legal considerations when doing so. Copyright compliance management isn't glamorous work, but can save a lot of trouble later on. Using best current practices like Reuse.Software one can avoid the pitfalls of compliance.

Who

Copyright compliance and license due diligence support is delivered by Free Software Foundation Europe — a European association that aims to empower users to control technology — and ifrOSS — an expert foundation that provides not-for-profit legal services and studies in the context of free and open source software.

Internationalisation, translation and localisation

  • Best practices on localisation and internationalisation (i18n)
  • Support with setting up translation infrastructure

Software may seem universal, but can actually be quite specific to linguistic and cultural influences. While many in the tech scene assume that everybody understands fluent English, lack of support for other languages can be a significant barrier to broad adoption. Even within Europe, in some countries 80% of the population has problems with understanding technical English. Moreover, for many users, their mother tongue represents more than the technicalities of language. Not only that, but the cultural dimensions of technology are different across cultures (in varying degrees of subtlety), and these differences are actually very meaningful to people. Europe is a continent of linguistic and cultural diversity, a continent of regions and of variety. So how can you design your technology in such a way that users from anywhere in the world feel at home and productive with it?

Who

Internationalisation and localisation support is delivered by Translate House — an organisation with a rich history of developing and implementing open source localization solutions.

Packaging

  • Best practices on packaging and reproducible builds
  • Reproducible packaging with Nix

It is important for a project that is meant to scale to gather traction as early as possible. There should be a convenient and easy to obtain development and testing environment, to ensure people that are interested have a low barrier of entry. We support the team to set up their technical infrastructure with Nix. Nix is a powerful vendor-agnostic package solution for Linux, Mac OS X and other Unix systems that makes package management reliable and reproducible. It provides atomic upgrades and rollbacks, side-by-side installation of multiple versions of a package, multi-user package management and easy setup of build environments. By using the unique capabilities of Nix, and associated projects like NixOps and NixOS, complex dependencies (such as services) can be managed. This way the project is able to have a cross-distro development and delivery system that is easy to integrate with continuous integration, and allows anyone to easily check in to the development process of the projects. It also creates full transparency: the entire setup is declarative and allows for reproducible builds, so every source origin and every patch is completely verifiable.

Who

Packaging support is delivered by NixOS Foundation — the foundation supporting development and use of purely functional configuration management tools, in particular NixOS and related projects

Security audit

  • Best practices on security
  • Security audit

Webinar about this support service
Watch the recording of the webinar on security audits with Melanie Rieback, co-fouder and CEO of ROS and Andrea Jegherand, Information Security Engineer. They explain what you can expect from an security audit and encourage you to request an audit. Don't feel like your project is not yet ready. The sooner the better because security-by-design works best.

Every project needs to earn the trust of users over time, and long term trust depends on the trustworthiness of your output. Young and ambitious projects tend to overestimate their level of sophistication and understanding in terms of security. This can bring users into potentially dangerous situations.

Living up to high security standards is important, and so we offer a professional security audit. The results are sent confidentially to the team, and can be made public through a standard coordinated disclosure procedure.

Who

Security support is delivered by Radically Open Security — the worlds first not-for-profit open source security company.

Standardisation

  • Best practices on standardisation
  • Custom advice on standardisation strategy

Webinar about this support service
Watch the recording of the webinar The GNU Name System (GNS) and the road to publishing an RFC with Martin Schanzenbach, Bernd Fix and Stephen Farrell. Martin and Bernd co-authored RFC 9498 on the GNS together with Christian Grothoff. In the first part of the webinar Martin explains how the GNS works.

In the second part of the webinar, Martin relates the story of interacting with the IETF to get the RFC published. Stephen Farrell of Tolerant Networks then explains, how he and his colleagues can help with interacting with standards bodies.

Open standards are an essential component of the openness of the internet. Dealing with standards setting organisations as a relative outsider can be a good lesson in humility though. Standards bodies often have meritocratic characteristics, and processes with very specific timing, meaning that newcomers can be at a disadvantage. There are historical precedents and unwritten rules to be taken into account. The actual decision making turns out to be more complex and time-consuming than it seemed at first instance. And sometimes there is a clash of interests (the privacy or security feature you want may ruin someone's nefarious but working business model), which can be very frustrating. Long battles have been fought over insignificant issues as well as over fundamental chasms, and it is unfortunately not a given that the debate is always won by the right party or in a fair way.

Not every project may need to interface with a standards setting organisation, but for those that do we provide guidance and mentoring throughout the process, and can help introduce projects to relevant stakeholders to collaborate and build alliances. This does not deliver guarantees on successfully reaching a standard, but it can significantly increase their chances.

Who

Standards support is delivered by Tolerant Networks - a Trinity College Dublin campus company focused on robust interoperable communications mechanisms for extreme and unpredictable environments, which delivers its standardisation experience.

Acknowledgements

NGI Zero is made possible with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology.

NGI0 Review has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101070519