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Openads becomes OpenX

If you are looking for the most popular open-source ad server, you need to remember a new name: OpenX. In a blog post Scott Switzer, CTO of OpenX, explains the reasons behind the rebrand and the difficulty in choosing a proper name.
From phpAds to OpenXOpenX started as phpAdsNew – a fork of the original phpAds created by Tobias Ratschiller. One of the other famous projects created by Tobias was phpMyAdmin. Unfortunately Tobias was too busy to maintain phpAds and a some independent developers started a small project on Sourceforge. The project was called phpAdsNew and fixed some bugs and added a couple of new features to the original software. At this time both phpAds and phpAdsNew were little more than simple banner rotators.

I joined the project in January 2001. After fixing a couple of bugs I took over the development and started working on what would become phpAdsNew 2.0. It took almost three years of continuous development and every single line from the original project was somehow rewritten or replaced. It was a massive effort and luckily I was not alone. I was quickly joined by Matteo Beccati who also maintained a PostgreSQL port called phpPgAds.

Sidenote: I actually never liked the name phpAdsNew. I guess that at the time the new project was started the name didn’t seem that important. When I became project lead I attempted to contacted Tobias a couple of times to get his permission to use the phpAds name. Unfortunately he never got back to me. So the name phpAdsNew stuck… at least for a while.

On the 29th of September 2004 we finally released phpAdsNew 2.0. During the three years of development – with the numerous betas, development snapshots and release candidates – the project really started to become popular. This attracted other developers, like Scott Switzer who started working on features that supposed to be included in phpAdsNew 2.1. That release never happened. Considering that Matteo and I had regular day jobs and worked on phpAdsNew during the evening and on weekends you can imagine we needed a little break. After the launch of phpAdsNew I took some time off, found a wonderful girlfriend and got married. You can imagine I never found the time again get back to the project.

In my absence Matteo released a couple of bugfix releases and Scott continued with his work and rewrote and adapted phpAdsNew to fit the needs of Unanimis, the company he worked for. Scott assembled a team around him and asked Matteo to join. The changes his team made were released as MaxMediaManager. Apart from the name, this is what essentially what phpAdsNew 2.1 would have been.

I think we can all agree that MaxMediaManager wasn’t really a good name for the long term and Scott and Matteo decided to revive the open source community and to continue all three projects under the same umbrella. So phpAdsNew, phpPgAds and MaxMediaManager became Openads. At the time Scott called me to ask my opinion about his plans for the future and even though I wasn’t yet prepared to return to the community I gave them my blessing to continue phpAdsNew in whatever form they liked.

Last year things changed quite a bit for Openads. First of all it changed from a grass roots open source project into a proper company, found investors and the team grew. Before this transition I met with Scott and he asked me to return to the project. This time he finally convinced me and starting from August of last year I am working as a part-time consultant for Openads. This time not any longer during the evenings and on weekends. That time is – fortunately – behind me.

Finally, as of last week Openads is called OpenX. Once again a change in name, but despite that the new name may still feel strange, the software is still the same. And the same old developers are still here: Scott, Matteo and me… And of course a whole team of new OpenX-ers.

P.S. During the Openads Christmas party last year I finally met Matteo in real life. It only took more than 6 and a half years….

One Response to “Openads becomes OpenX”

  1. Scott Switzer wrote on February 19th, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Amazing how software gets built these days – over four years of working together, Neils and I met 3 times, and Matteo and Niels have never met (until our fateful christmas party!)

    We are very happy to have Niels helping out with our UI – he has such a deep knowledge of OpenX, and has lots of fantastic UI designs.

    We look forward to putting his designs into OpenX in the future!

    Scott