Fueling innovative software
July 15-18, 2019
Portland, OR

Learning collaboration from open source development at the BBC

11:50am12:30pm Thursday, July 18, 2019
Secondary topics:  Customer Centered
Average rating: ****.
(4.33, 3 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Engineers, team leaders, and business leaders




The BBC has a long history of using and releasing open source software, but there are many departments across the BBC operating independently with different attitudes and approaches to open source. David Buckhurst and Tom Sadler share some of their personal experiences with open source at the BBC—particularly how the BBC iPlayer’s Core Playback layer for connected TV devices adopted an InnerSource model and how this helped teams build features on top of it—and discuss the journey as open development became central to how its employees collaborate.

You’ll explore interesting case studies of open development that illustrate the different reasons for supporting open source teams, including supporting business strategy, such as the open release of TAL, its TV application framework; as a learning and recruitment tool (e.g., for the growing number of teams who develop in public repositories); as a collaboration optimizer (e.g., for the many small libraries the BBC shares between teams); and supporting the BBC’s charter (e.g., its R&D teams license the code they develop to support research across the UK). You’ll also discover why open source principles like open decision making, contribution guidelines, and community management are just as important for internal projects.

Prerequisite knowledge

  • A basic knowledge of open source principles

What you'll learn

  • Learn how open source principles can improve your internal practices, how to grow InnerSource teams and break down silos, how to empower teams and take away the pain of license compliance, how to bring engineers and legal together, and how to nurture a grass-roots community of open source practitioners
  • Understand what metrics are useful for measuring your progress
Photo of David Buckhurst

David Buckhurst


David Buckhurst is an engineering manager at the BBC, where he looks after the teams who develop interactive TV applications such as iPlayer and Red Button. David has a long history of working with complex device-based challenges. He’s been a vocal advocate of automated testing for years, having really seen the value of automation while developing emulator technology such as Apple’s Rosetta. Previously, he led the development of Hive CI, the BBC’s device testing cloud, and adopted an open development approach that made many of the BBC’s testing tools available open source.

Photo of Tom Sadler

Tom Sadler


Tom Sadler is a software engineering team lead for BBC iPlayer, specializing in media playback for connected TV browsers. He has advocated for supporting open source projects, including the BBC’s TV application layer and bigscreen player, and lead collaboration between teams.