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May 9, 2017

Caddy's MOSS Experience

By Matt Holt and Cory Cooper

In spring of 2016, Cory and I were introduced to the Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) program with regards to Caddy. Every three months, Mozilla reviews applications from open source projects to grant them an award of an amount according to the project's request. MOSS is truly a celebration of open source and we want to share our experience with the program.

Mozilla gives awards for three classes of open source projects:

  1. Foundational Technology, which are projects Mozilla uses and relies on.
  2. Mission Partners, which are projects that help accomplish and further Mozilla's mission ("manifesto").
  3. Secure Open Source is specifically for security audits and remedying of open source projects. This is slightly different in that your project is nominated rather than applying directly.

Caddy fit best in the second category as a mission partner. Mozilla's Manifesto states:

Individuals’ security and privacy on the Internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional.

Indeed, Caddy is the only web server that serves private, secure connections by default, which directly supports Mozilla's goals too.

To apply, we filled out a form with a short description of Caddy and a slightly more thorough explanation of our goals and specific projects for which the award would be used. This was a little harder to do, and the MOSS team was very patient and friendly about asking for clarification about the work and to break it into milestones. We ended up with two milestones for the award money, including estimated dates of completion, though these are always hard to gauge so we set these loosely.

A few weeks later, we heard back from the committee and were very pleased to hear that Caddy had been accepted. A while later, Mozilla announced the winners in a blog post. Caddy's future development would remain secure for at least the next year and a half!

Before we got the award, there were many ideas we had in terms of the direction that Caddy could go to better serve its users. At the time, all these ideas seemed almost moonshot given their complexity and anticipated time commitment. But the MOSS award gave us the opportunity to push these ideas forward much faster than we originally thought. Matt and Cory were able to devote more time to Caddy to implement the changes sooner.

Our milestones included a new automated build server with automated plugin deployment (which was released alongside Caddy 0.10), an API, and a web interface for Caddy that utlizes the API. The API features are still under development and we hope to be able to discuss more about them soon.

The biggest impact the MOSS award had was financing Caddy's rebranding. A new, more attractive, and more professional-looking website gives a stronger impression of Caddy's longevity and legitimacy. In addition, we decided to create sponsorships and an engineering package to help ensure long-term development on the project. We're hoping this will make the most of the MOSS award.

The MOSS program kickstarted a new era for Caddy: turning it from a fairly casual (but promising!) open source project into something that is growing more than we would have hoped otherwise. Caddy is seeing more contributions, community engagement, and development than it ever has before! Our experience with MOSS was positive, and we believe in Mozilla's mission. If you do too, consider submitting your project to MOSS and help make the Internet a better place.

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