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OPEN TALK: The Evolution of Open Source into the Commercial Arena


Raf Hens
iText Software, Chief Technology Officer

Raf joined iText in 2012 as senior software engineer. He then became director of engineering, overseeing the technical and product roadmaps of the iText technology. As the company grew, he set up the new product management department which became responsible for the positioning of iText 7 and the development of new products. Under his leadership, iText has launched its very first diversified product, iText DITO.You'll find Raf during the winters on the slopes, where he loves to ski with his family.


Raf discusses how Open Source has evolved over the years to become a force in the commercial arena. As an example, he talks about how iText began as a hobby project which transitioned into a community project, and then into a dual-licensed one.

He explores the reasons why the core iText PDF library remains open source, the differences between dual licensing and the “Open Core” model, and the importance of meeting the expectations of our development community.

Finally, he looks at the importance of structure and processes, why the “benevolent dictator” approach works in open source, and the impact of transitioning from FOSS to COSS on engineering.