New foundation for Django

Nonprofit to oversee open-source Web framework

Add an open-source Web framework born in Lawrence to a list of industry powerhouses with their own software foundations.

Django, started nearly five years ago by programmers affiliated with The World Company, now joins a lineup of pervasive computer languages and systems – including Mozilla, Apache and Linux – to be overseen by a nonprofit organization.

The Django Software Foundation, based in Lawrence, now owns the trademark and intellectual property that form the basis for the application that is used to create increasingly popular Web publishing programs, the likes of which are used by operations ranging from here in town to The Washington Post and others worldwide.

With a foundation, Django will be able to continue its growth with new assistance from software operations large and small, from one-person outfits to industry leaders such as Google.

The contributions will help Django leaders bring together core developers from around the world – from Lawrence to Australia or even Germany – to work side by side on details designed to make Django even better, faster.

While tens of thousands of people have downloaded Django, about 350 actually have contributed code to improve the system, said Jacob Kaplan-Moss, president of the foundation.

“For the developers working on the project, it signals that the work that they’re putting in is going to be around for a long time,” said Kaplan-Moss, who helped develop Django while working for Mediaphormedia LLC, The World Company’s award-winning interactive and software division.

Ralph Gage, director of special projects for The World Company, said that turning over the Django trademark and underlying intellectual property would permit donors to make contributions to an organization “established to do exactly what they want them to do.”

Adrian Holovaty, who envisioned Django while working as lead programmer for The World Company’s online operations, said the foundation “adds an extra level of clout” in the world of software development, a step unprecedented in his career of award-winning sites, projects and other ventures.

“Nothing I’ve worked on has approached Django,” said Holovaty, now working on a grant-supported project called EveryBlock, which aims to provide data on every block of Chicago, New York and San Francisco.

With Monday’s announcement of the foundation’s creation now passed, Django leaders are looking forward to the next big event. In September they plan to release Django 1.0, following up on the Django 0.96 version that’s still being refined.

From Holovaty to Simon Willison to Kaplan-Moss, plus others who continue to work on the Mediaphormedia team, the foundation looks to ensure a long-term future for a project that already has seen success.

Google, for example, recently started offering an application hosting service for people to develop their own programs or sites and run them on Google’s infrastructure. The service, Kaplan-Moss said, is based around the Python computer language, and developers can use Django on it.

“It’s kind of a big and ringing endorsement of what we’re doing,” Kaplan-Moss said. “Who’s bigger on the Web today than Google? They’re essentially saying, ‘We like Django.’ That’s really fantastic and bringing in a lot of new users.”