Microsoft Office Extensibility: did legal technology just get interesting?

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The world of law and the legal trade, for most people, is generally either a) incredibly fascinating b) deathly boring or c) a system you don't want to think about while you are serving an extended prison sentence.

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For those of who think of law as crusty, dull and altogether drab... the technology trade is doing its level best to drag the trade itself into the 21st Century.

Big legal data

A key area for law and technology is obviously big data analytics i.e. the ability to digitise hundreds of thousands of case materials and use algorithmic intelligence to sift through and find patterns that could relate to fraudulent activity will save masses of time and should (in theory) lead to better legal analysis being executed.

Another area is thrown up when we look at collaboration technologies.

Microsoft's own Corporate, External, & Legal Affairs (CELA) has explained that Office Extensibility (as in the Office 'productivity suite', obviously) exists to make Office more useful in specific scenarios.

The developer factor

Office Extensibility is all about opening up office to (often third-party) developers so that they can create new services and functionality.

In this regard then, Matter Center is an Office 365 add-in and SharePoint-based document collaboration solution that seeks to increase productivity for legal professionals while supporting seamless access from any device.

Microsoft has now made Matter Center available to the community of developers through GitHub.

Matter Center allows developers to deliver solutions for users in the legal space and (so says Microsoft) demonstrates the capabilities of Office as a 'solutions platform' in its own right.

By posting Matter Center on GitHub and opening up for Pull Requests, Microsoft hopes to extend innovation.

According to the company itself, "We are confident that Matter Center will be immediately useful for legal professionals. These professionals at Microsoft have the same set of business productivity demands as their peers at other companies, firms and industries. It is critical to be able to organize and quickly find project content, emails, attachments and collaborate with team members of the organisation -- both internally and externally. And because Matter Center was designed with the needs of legal users first and foremost and then actually deployed and proven within CELA, we know that it will be broadly useful for other legal customers. The terminology in Matter Center may be legal specific, but the scenarios enabled in it have applicability in a broad range of professions."

In the repository, developers will find the full source code, deployment guidance and additional resources to help you get Matter Center up and running.

"Together, with our expanded contribution community on GitHub, we will actively drive technical and feature enhancements," said the firm.

Microsoft has also published a solution roadmap for this technology, where it promises to articulate main areas of focus over the coming months.

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Open source contribution is not just code

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Contributing to open source technology is all about code contributions and code commits -- right?

Actually, no... it kind of goes further than that.

Feed back feedback

A subject that we have covered on Computer Weekly's Open Source Insider blog before, this week opensource.com itself digs through the other ways that users can feed back to open source development.

The programmers and other community members who run open source initiatives will also want slightly less technical feedback on tasks from documentation to translation to bug reporting and user interface design ideas.

"Proprietary software companies often have dedicated professionals working on UI/UX (user interface and design) and QA (quality assurance), but your favorite open source project could probably use your help in these areas. Even if you consider yourself a novice user, it really helps to be proactive in reporting issues from bugs and edge cases to UI/UX issues, like buttons that seem to be inconveniently located or confusingly named," writes Jade Wang.

Blogs, even

Other areas for contribution include education and wider level advocacy, the possibilities are endless (you could even blog about it!)..

Jade Wang co-founded Sandstorm.io, an open source platform for personal servers.

Walmart's bricks & mortar to digital business journey

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Walmart has released its OneOps cloud management platform for continuous app lifecycle management - and, in line with this news, Couchbase has announced support for @WalmartLab's release of OneOps to the open source community through Github.

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Walmart uses Couchbase Server in a cloud environment to power a digital businesses that must be always on, responsive and highly adaptable.

OneOps delivers an open source tool that for developers and DevOps to launch, manage and maintain products in public, private and hybrid cloud environments.

"Walmart is the perfect model of a company that is smartly adapting to the digital economy. While its retail leadership was built on brick and mortar, Walmart has become a technology and e-commerce innovator," said Ravi Mayuram, senior vice president, products and engineering at Couchbase.

"Walmart uses Couchbase to ensure consistent, high performance with sub-millisecond response times for its e-commerce platform. OneOps is a great solution for managing cloud deployments and we strongly support the move to open source this exceptional technology," he added.

Walmart has built a best-in-class global e-commerce platform that supports anytime, anywhere shopping with reliable performance at peak times. That platform is entirely managed from OneOps.

Using OneOps, the Walmart platform team is able to quickly deploy cloud solutions that use various technology components as a service and support migration between clouds.

And now for something completely analytical... Pentaho goes native Python

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Pentaho (let's remember to call it a Hitachi Group company) has announced news of its labs team now completing development of native integration for Python.

So what?

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Well, the core spin here is: that new thing called 'data science' being placed in the hands of the developer community with added crispy topping of predictive modelling.

(Ed - chuckle, you just said 'data science', next you're gonna say big data)

The idea here is... through Pentaho Data Integration (PDI), data scientists (yeah, it's a job) can now use Python, which is widely agreed to be one of the most flexible open-source languages to increase both productivity and data governance.

The big promise here, of course, is that they can do this while spending more time on predictive analytics and machine learning.

She blinded me with data science

"As the field of data science continues to grow outside the world of research and statisticians, it is important for our team to arm developers with a wide range of programming languages. R was developed as a language by and for statisticians, while C++ or Java requires extensive coding," said Will Gorman, VP of Pentaho Labs at Pentaho, a Hitachi Group Company.

"Python provides developers another option for data science with a general purposes language. With these languages, data scientists have the ability to use the most appropriate language with increased use of data preprocessing though PDI," he added.

The big sell here hinges around the proposition that the Python programming language allows data scientists to work quickly, easily crunching big data sets and integrating systems more effectively.

Pentaho suggests that Python is the preferred language for deep learning researchers and that it provides engineers in data science the ability to more easily develop predictive models.

"Python is widely deployed by developers and engineers to create statistical analytic workflows, particularly in areas such as finance, oil and gas, and physics," said Matt Aslett, research director, 451 Research. "We see Python as a primary language for artificial intelligence engines and Pentaho's native integration of Python will allow organisations to apply their deep domain expertise and improve predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms."

IBM z Systems mainframes, unlikely champions of open source?

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The mainframe isn't dead at all, of course we already knew this to be true.

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Three basic mainframe truths for the decade

1. There's a profitable market in mainframe modernisation and integration technologies (and related COBOL usage)

2. IBM for one enjoys a growing market for mainframe manufacturing... Dell and HP kind of talk up their 'servers that are just as good as mainframes' too, of course

3. Cloud computing datacentres make good use of mainframes, it's a core truth

With a nod to point 2 above and 3, we also see that IBM is doing well proffering its wares to the HPC supercomputer market.

In the spirit of keeping this sector open and vibrant then, we now learn that IBM is bringing the Go open source programming language onto IBM's System z mainframes.

IBM has used GitHub to make its port of Go available.

Big Blue has also used the file hosting website to share the code relating to its Linux on IBM z Systems project.

Roughly six years ago now the Go language was released as an open source project.

According to Google, "Since [its release], more than 780 contributors have made over 30,000 commits to the project's 22 repositories. The ecosystem continues to grow, with GitHub reporting more than 90,000 Go repositories. Offline, we see new Go events and user groups pop up around the world with regularity."

Reports suggest that IBM has seen its z Systems mainframe revenue increase by 15% in its latest quarter compared to a year ago.

So the question remains -- IBM z Systems mainframes pushing out Go and Linux, unlikely champions of open source?

No not at all, the mainframe can be just as current and open source as your Android smartphone ... and your Android smartphone cloud service probably runs on a mainframe, so get over yourself.







Avast builds on Android anti-malware pedigree with new HQ

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Avast Software was kind of 'one of those Central and Eastern Europe' (CEE) security firms along with the other usual suspects that most of us can name... and then, it kind of became something more than that and started to boast more users than its competitors -- so that then... consequently, it has more than tripled in staff in the past five years.

The firm this month announced and celebrated the opening of its new headquarters in the Enterprise Office Centre building in Pankrac, Prague.

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In terms of operation, Avast is known for its PC and mobile security software and has a particular specialism in Android security -- Android malware analyst Nikolaos Chrysaidos is worth a follow on Twitter if you spend time worrying about droid attacks.

The wider Avast blog is also a interesting channel i.e. it is used to impart actual info for users rather than act as some corporate showboating stream.

Due to the various automated tools that can be used to generate different malware packages (using much of the original app's source code) Avast's team have explained that cyber-criminals can generate an app's main source code and then change or add the app's UI and internal things, such as URLs -- and this is how still evolving threats can spawn new variants so quickly.

The Garry Kasparov factor

To celebrate its new HQ, Avast hosted a gala with special guest, former world chess champion Garry Kasparov -- plus tours of Avast's new office space, and live demonstrations of Avast's applications for home, mobile, business and enterprise.

"Avast has chosen a building that reflects its open, innovative, and inspirational company culture. We selected Erste Group Immorent to construct our new home as they are the leader in building modern infrastructure in Central Europe," said Vince Steckler, chief executive officer of Avast.

"With this move we plan on continuing to grow in the mobile sphere, to further expand our SMB and enterprise business and to provide consumers with innovative security they will need in an Internet of Things world."

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Above image: the Avast antivirus lab

"Avast's success springs from innovations, comprehensive technology and creativity of top experts. We are honoured that such a top tech company has chosen our Enterprise Office Center building as its new headquarters," said Tomas Veleminsky, CEO of Erste Group Immorent. "For us this proves our ability to meet up the highest standards and provide the most demanding tenants with desired comfort and top level service."

Poker Face? Red Hat plays 'de facto standard' card for enterprise Java apps

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There's that bit (quite a few bits actually) during the Red Hat Summit conventions every year when the middleware team gets really excited about its product set.

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Of course middleware is sexy and beautiful, you just have to look carefully.

In its latest blog post, Red Hat announced the beta availability of Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (JBoss EAP) 7.

De facto, in fact

The firm now insists that JBoss EAP has been a category leader for years and has established itself as the de-facto open source open standard platform for enterprise Java applications for many global organisations.

With JBoss EAP 7, Red Hat says it takes an important step in advancing a vision of bringing enterprise Java to a world of containers, cloud, microservices and DevOps.

The new release now supports Java EE 7 and Java SE 8, is optimised for container and cloud deployments, upgrades support featuring interoperability and enhances administration and management.

JBoss EAP 7 is a certified Java EE 7 application server and supports Java SE 8.

Yay! someone said "webscale"!

Java EE 7 includes four new specifications and a focus on developer productivity and web-scale applications. In addition to specification support, JBoss EAP 7 also includes enhancements designed to maximise productivity and performance. One example is batch tooling, which enables developers to more easily monitor, create, manage and configure batch jobs.

If you're a real fan, you can dive deeper into the middleware blog.

Free image: Wikimedia

Zulu embedded inside the Internet of Things

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Java runtime solutions company Azul Systems has announced that Zulu Embedded is now available to download on the Wind River Marketplace.

Zulu Embedded?

Zulu Embedded is Azul's open source Java Virtual Machine (JVM) based on OpenJDK developed for manufacturers in the embedded, mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) markets,

Wind River is a subsidiary company of Intel providing embedded system software which comprises run-time software, industry-specific software solutions, simulation technology, development tools and middleware.

Azul says it has tested and validated Zulu Embedded for interoperability with Wind River Linux, an operating system that combines embedded functionality with the flexibility and freedom of open source software.

NOTE:
Zulu Embedded is 100% open source and is based on OpenJDK, the Java Community project where Java is developed and evolved.

According to Azul, Zulu Embedded allows developers to utilise a Java SE standards compliant package to suit their specific support and configuration needs.

Each Zulu Embedded build is verified by Azul using the Java Community Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) and incorporates the latest OpenJDK bug fixes and security patches.

Scott Sellers, president and CEO of Azul Systems is on the record with the following, "Zulu Embedded has been deployed in millions of devices worldwide, as its open source nature and compliance with Java SE standards offers a compelling economic and technical proposition for a wide range of high volume embedded and IoT products. We are pleased to now offer Zulu Embedded on the Wind River Marketplace, enabling many more developers targeting embedded and IoT devices to have access to a best-in-class open source Java development kit and runtime."

Red Hat Ansible 2.0: a 'playbook' for agentless automation

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Red Hat bought Ansible, that made sense.

We know that Red Hat is a major player in the open source enterprise space (on many levels) and Ansible was (and still is) a company (now an internal Red Hat brand) that makes "agentless" orchestration and configuration management tools.

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Ansible's technology comes in the form of an automation engine designed to help deploy both applications and the wider software systems that they exist within.

Now we learn of the general availability of Ansible 2.0.

This new release of the "agentless" IT automation framework brings new integrations with a variety of services and providers, broadening support for public, private, and hybrid cloud deployments.

Windows-centric

Specifically, it expands Ansible's footprint into Microsoft Windows environments and network management.

Ansible is designed to enable developer and operators in IT organisations to quickly learn and deploy the software, so they can break down barriers between IT teams by automating routine activities.

New features include:

  • Task blocks enable easier development of playbooks and tasks, and additionally provide the option to integrate exception handling and recovery;
  • A refined playbook parser provides clearer identification of errors and provides suggested fixes;
  • New execution modes provide users with ways to increase the speed of deployments across many machines;
  • Increased flexibility in tasks facilitates easier reuse of automation content across a variety of environments and contexts; and
  • Logging playbook information to services such as chat, email, or log aggregators can be easily configured through newly included plugins.

  • Tim Cramer, head of Ansible Engineering at Red Hat says that he "strongly believes" the users should be able to focus on improving their business, rather than learning complex tools.

    "Ansible 2.0 expands upon that vision by delivering increased flexibility in the Ansible Playbook automation language, while still retaining the ease-of-use and simplicity that enables developers and operators to get started quickly," he said.

    Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Toyota: all driving more Linux into cars

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    The Ford Motor Company has for some time now been developing its open source Smart Device Link (SDL) middleware framework.

    The firm is now enjoying support from rival automotive manufacturer Toyota for this still-emerging technology.

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    Toyota says it will integrate support for SDL into its cars' infotainment systems.

    SDL is an open source smartphone app platform that works on both your in-dash infotainment screen as well as a phone -- the technology is already fitted as a standard instal on five million Ford vehicles.

    According to a report on Forbes, SDL is an open source middleware framework developed and maintained by Livio - a recently acquired Ford subsidiary - that any car maker can integrate with their infotainment platform for free.

    "This standard accelerates and streamlines the in-vehicle app integration process by enabling app developers, such as Pandora and Spotify, to build once and reach all SDL-integrated infotainment systems," writes Liane Yvkoff.

    News on opensource.com extends this story -- the Linux Foundation has announced that Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Subaru are joining the Automotive Grade Linux project.

    The Linux Foundation's Dan Cauchy has said the project's aim is "unifying the best open-source components into a single software stack" that every automaker can use.







    Cheers Drive! Bristol City Council opens up a real 'gert lush' transport API

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    LINGUISTIC NOTE: Cheers Drive! is a Bristolian expression used when a passenger gets off of a bus to thank the driver... it may also be used in taxis and for family members who give you a lift.

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    A new API (application programming interface) created by Bristol City Council is intended to provide easy and free access to a wealth of transport data in one place.

    The Bristol API (Transport) supports the Council's approach to opening up data sets, as it already does through the Bristol Open Data portal and is being further developed by the Bristol Is Open project.

    The wider aim is to work with the tech community to explore ways to use and present the data framed around relevant and actual transport challenges in the city.

    Cheers Drive!

    The new web-based service has been specifically designed to provide information such as live bus and train times, stop locations, route maps and other data.

    Developers interested in building apps, websites, connected devices or even customer information displays will be able to use transport data for Bristol and the West of England region completely free for the next year.

    Gert Lush!

    LINGUISTIC NOTE: Gert Lush is the highest form of praise that can be given to anything by a Bristolian.

    The Bristol API is not restricted to public transport as it also gives instant updates on occupancy in local car parks as well as electric vehicle charging locations.

    It is currently possible to provide live statistics on bicycle dock availability in London and New York, meaning the API could be attractive to developers who have global success in their sights and further adding to the benefits of The Bristol API.

    LINGUISTIC NOTE: No offence to the good people of Bristol is intended -- the blog author in this case is indeed Bristolan by birth.

    IoT Open Interconnect Consortium, open... but not open enough?

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    The Internet of Things (IoT) needs standards, this much we know to be true.

    As a proliferating variety of devices are now developed and adopted, the data types, application types and network behaviour characteristics will not necessarily all connect, obviously.

    The Open Interconnect Consortium

    Bodies such as the The Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) are working to try and provide us with the interconnectivity & interoperability that we need, but is it enough?

    The OIC itself lists (among others) Intel, Samsung, Dell and Cisco among its ranks... a good spread for sure, but is it enough?

    After all... many other groups and standards are also emerging in this space such as ZigBee, the Z-Wave Alliance and we should even include technologies like Bluetooth in this list.

    Plug-ins, for extra openness

    OIC executive director Michael Richmond has tried to keep the door open and explained that there also now exists an open source project called IoTivity which has been developed so that firms with other technologies (including competing ones like AllJoyn) can introduce plug-ins that let OIC products work with other types of equipment.

    It's open... but is it open enough to be all encompassing?

    Check back here in five years time in 2021 and we should have the answer for you.

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    Debian operating system founder Ian Murdock dies age 42

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    Creator of the open source Debian operating system Ian Murdock has died at age 42.

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    Debian was one of the first Linux distros to be forged and has grown to become a widely lauded and respected operating system, the software has been used on machines running on the International Space Station -- it offers over 43000 packages of precompiled bundled software and was named as a portmanteau after Murdock's old girlfriend Debra Lynn and his own name.

    Murdock died last Monday night according to a blog posted on the Docker website, his employer at the time of his death.

    Open source legacy

    An involved and committed community-driven software advocate, Murdock had also previously worked for the Linux Foundation and Sun Microsystems.

    The bits Debian blog comments that it is with a heavy heart that Debian mourns the passing of Ian Murdock, stalwart proponent of Free Open Source Software.

    "Ian started the Debian project in August of 1993, releasing the first versions of Debian later that same year. Debian would go on to become the world's Universal Operating System, running on everything from embedded devices to the space station," reads the blog.

    It continues, "Ian's sharp focus was on creating a distribution and community culture that did the right thing, be it ethically, or technically. Releases went out when they were ready, and the project's staunch stance on Software Freedom are the gold standards in the Free and Open Source world."

    The danger ahead: skyscraper code favelas  in earthquake zones

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    Do software application development leaders need a new year's resolution?

    Do team leaders, software engineering managers and senior architectural planners need a new wake up call?

    Technology industry commentator/evangelist and all round guy worth following on Twitter these days Matt Asay thinks so.

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    NOTE: Asay is in fact VP of mobile at Adobe, but also executes and performs a rarely found impartial industry evangelist role.

    Asay comments that building clunky code extensions on top of an existing (mostly proprietary) base is bad news.

    "Your developers are stuck building new code on top of old code. Over and over and over again. Ironically, this is a sign of success. But, it also creates problems," writes Asay.

    His thoughts rest upon an assertion that firms end up building on top of old code bases rather than looking to open source flexibility as a route out of so-termed 'technical debt' -- he also says that open source is the only way for startups to gain enterprise-level muscle fast enough to succeed in the new world of software.

    A techno-sociologist view

    Asay took a portion of his line of reasoning here from Zeynep Tufekci who is (among other roles) assistant professor at the University of North Carolina and a writer with the New York Times.

    Her commentary 'Why the Great Glitch of July 8th Should Scare You' explains that a lot of software is now old enough to be multi-layered.

    In particular she points to airline reservation systems (which are particularly glitchy) since they've been around a while.

    Tufekci writes as follows:

    "Think of it as needing more space in your house, so you decide you want to build a second story. But the house was never built right to begin with, with no proper architectural planning, and you don't really know which are the weight-bearing walls. You make your best guess, go up a floor and... cross your fingers. And then you do it again. That is how a lot of our older software systems that control crucial parts of infrastructure are run. This works for a while, but every new layer adds more vulnerability. We are building skyscraper favelas in code -- in earthquake zones."

    The story here is that yes, indeed, software is eating the world... but in a proprietary-only technical debt-ridden software world... that software sucks.

    We urge you to read Tufekci's full piece linked above.

    DreamFactory: a RESTful backend shapes a nice MBaaS

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    The great PR machine in the sky promised us an enterprise-centric, open source developer news nugget before the Christmas break -- could this be it?

    DreamFactory is an open source firm dedicated to helping programmers manage REST APIs for mobile, cloud and IoT applications.

    The company has just gone public with DreamFactory Enterprise to give developers the ability to deploy, manage and transport multiple instances of DreamFactory across the entire application development lifecycle.

    NOTE: REST (REpresentational State Transfer) is an architectural style (and an approach) to communications that is often used in the development of web services -- the use of REST is often preferred over the more heavyweight SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) style because REST does not leverage as much bandwidth, which makes it a better fit for use over the Internet.

    It's all about the MBaaS

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    It has now been two years since DreamFactory shipped its open source REST API backend under the Apache license.

    According to the firm, the software is now used by hundreds of thousands of developers (and therefore what is millions of users) worldwide, serving as the RESTful backend for mobile, web and IoT applications.

    Recently, Gartner has urged IT clients to assemble a "mobile application services platform" to meet growing enterprise demand for mobile and IoT applications -- guess what? DreamFactory thinks that this term describes what it does exactly.

    What's up in 2016?

    For 2016, DreamFactory sets its sights on taking its services platform deeper into the enterprise by following in the footsteps of other open source software vendors such as Docker, MongoDB, Elastic, NGINX -- all companies that have crossed the chasm from pure open source adoption to monetisation with an enterprise offering.

    Bill Appleton, the firm's co-founder and CEO, is an API expert and appears to write his own blogs.

    Appleton details the product as follows, "DreamFactory Enterprise runs on any Linux server and includes the DreamFactory run-time for instant provisioning. It provides administrators with an enterprise console where they can manage the entire platform. They can create individual accounts for any number of developers. They can create detailed reports on API usage across the system. They can set API usage limits at the cluster, instance, and user level. The administrator can also manage different server environments for development, testing, and production."







    Huawei goes (smart) home with HiLink open source platform

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    Chinese telecommunications company Huawei has of course considerably expanded its horizons beyond 'pure teclo'... and indeed even the physical manufacturing of networking equipment.

    The firm now plans to enter the Internet of Things driven smart home space.

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    Next year will see the development of its HiLink open source platform.

    Fishing for chipsets

    Huawei will refine its approach to producing both hardware and software here --- it says it plans to develop only the software and the core chipset that will power the devices.

    HiLink platform will focus on web-connected home devices like washing machines and refrigerators.

    A dedicated HiLink Software Development Kit (SDK) will be arrive towards the end of 2016 with the 'LiteOS' operating system.

    Red Hat mobile CTO: how Node.js went exponential

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    Mícheál Ó Foghlú, Red Hat CTO for mobile recently engaged in a discussion with the Computer Weekly Open Source Insider blog as to why we have seen such exponential growth in Node.js at this time.

    Node.js is a JavaScript runtime built on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine.

    Questions posed

    Specifically, the questions posed to Ó Foghlú centred on:

    • How Node.js enables developers to be 30 times more efficient when developing mobile apps.

    • How Node.js is contributing to a new "mindset" when it comes to enterprise mobility and agility.

    The below text is all attributed to the Red Hat CTO himself:

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    When Progress Software acquired Node.js player, Modulus, last June, Progress' CTO, Karen Tegan Padir stated that the Node.js community is growing faster than that for any other language.

    We would strongly agree with that statement. Where the exponential growth is coming from, is in the supporting ecosystem around the modules that are supported on Node. One of the key things that Node has that other communities don't have is in the tool called the Node Package Manager, the npm.js (https://www.npmjs.com/), which is really flexible and lightweight and packages the modules that you need for each individual application as a separate dependency tree.

    So you don't get the dependency issues that you get with a lot of languages, where 'it worked on my machine because I've got that library installed, but you've got a different version installed so it doesn't work on yours', for example.

    190,000 modules and counting

    Each program has all of the dependencies bundled individually for that program, so it's hugely collaborative and the Node module community has grown to nearly 190,000 modules in the five years of Node's life, which is more modules shared within the Node community than the entire Java Maven Central or the entire CPAN module.

    Both of those communities have had ten or twenty years of activity behind them and the Node ecosystem is bigger than either of those already. The central npm.js registry reached 2.5Billion downloads last month.

    Node.js offers a lightweight back-end JavaScript that helps address the demands of mobile for building apps with APIs that connect mobile apps to the backend and handle large data volumes in an efficient and scalable way. Additionally, in comparison to a more heavyweight stack like the Java stack, the use of Node.js can halve development time or halve the requirement for developer resource while achieving the same functionality.

    Immature in comparison to a mature stack like Java

    In the context of mobile app development, where pressure is on to create and deploy apps at ever faster rates and where mobile developer resources are scarce relative to app demand, this is highly attractive. However, even though Node is growing rapidly, it is still relatively immature in comparison to a mature stack like Java, putting the onus on developers to understand the ecosystem and what it offers.

    The formation of the Node Foundation and the governance it will provide will go a long way to address inherent weaknesses that can be attributed to this immaturity. But, in terms of how long it takes to get projects done, Node.js is significantly more productive and that's only going to get better as the third party ecosystem improves. If it is possible for your organization to reuse some of these open source modules, you can get closer to a solution even more quickly by understanding the ecosystem. So it is worth investing time in understanding what is already there in this Node community.

    There are two things driving the growing adoption of Node.js:

    1. The mindset of the lightweight approach leading to more productive code, where you have fewer lines of code doing more jobs for you.

    2.
    Secondly, there is this developer attraction to Node. There is definitely a positive buzz around people working in Node.js. You increase your developer retention and developer morale by having a Node team as part of your IT ecosystem. It's perceived as an exciting, cool thing to be doing, so you create this positive atmosphere in your own company by embracing Node that leads to other huge payoffs.

    A low resource footprint

    So, those two things combined: the mindset of the developers and the technical advantages of the lightweight approach really come together. It's probably been best articulated in the new focus on the architecture of microservices. Node lends itself really well to this microservices architecture, because it has such a low resource footprint, in terms of its CPU and computing power and RAM usage.

    You can have thousands of Node processes running on a medium-sized machine and it can very efficiently cope with billions of transactions. Very few other language stacks have that level of small flexibility to be able to do that. When you put all that together you get a different mindset to how to solve enterprise IT problems; with a set of developers who are motivated to solve them; with a very fast set of tools that are evolving to help them to do that and this leads to a very, very productive environment.

    Mícheál Ó Foghlú writes on Twitter here.

    Microsoft open sources Chakra JavaScript Edge browser engine

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    Microsoft will open source the Chakra JavaScript engine on GitHub next month.

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    ChakraCore

    Chakra out in the open will be known as ChakraCore.

    The Windows blog states that in addition to the open source community, several firms have already expressed interest in contributing to ChakraCore.

    "Among many others, we look forward to working with Intel, AMD and NodeSource as we develop this community," said Microsoft.

    Make no mistake then, in open sourcing Chakra... Microsoft will now accept code contributions from third party developers to its browser.

    Windows only, for now

    The growth of ChakraCore on other platforms in the future is a possibility.

    This would mean that a Microsoft Edge browser for Linux, Android, Mac OS X or iOS could be developed.

    "Starting in January, we will open our public GitHub repository for community contributions. At that time, we will provide more detail on our initial priorities and guidance on how to contribute effectively to the project. The community is at the heart of any open source project, so we look forward to the community cloning the repository, inspecting the code, building it, and contributing everything from new functionality to tests or bug fixes. We also welcome suggestions on how to improve ChakraCore for particular scenarios that are important to you or your business, write Microsoft's Gaurav Seth and Adalberto Foresti, both principal program managers.

    Apple tailors Swift for open source

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    Apple's new programming language Swift first came to the fore last year -- this month we see it reach open source status.

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    As a language, Apple intended to create a route to easier coding (obviously) and wanted to span software application development across both iOS or OS X.

    The language will be open and available on Swift.org and GitHub.

    What this really means is developers outside of the Apple 'circle of trust' will now be able to contribute to Swift.

    According to Apple, "Designed for Cocoa and Cocoa Touch, Swift combines the performance and efficiency of compiled languages with the simplicity and interactivity of popular scripting languages. By design, Swift helps developers write safer and more reliable code by eliminating entire categories of common programming errors and coexists with Objective-C code, so developers can easily integrate Swift into their existing apps. Xcode® Playgrounds make writing Swift code incredibly interactive by instantly displaying the output of Swift code."

    Swift is developed in the open at Swift.org, with source code, a bug tracker, mailing lists and regular development builds available for everyone.

    With the launch of the open source Swift project, Apple is also releasing a port that works with the Linux operating system.

    Named parameters brought forward from Objective-C are expressed in a clean syntax that is supposed to make APIs in Swift easier to read and maintain

    Programmers can build it from the Swift sources or download pre-built binaries for Ubuntu.

    Free 'Swifty' image: source Wikipedia

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    RethinkDB: how to be successful with open source

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    This is a guest post for the Computer Weekly Open Source Insider blog written by Michael Glukhovsky, co-founder of RethinkDB -- RethinkDB has the No. 1 document database on GitHub, so, arguably... Glukhovsky knows how to make an open source projects successful.

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    Five key insights

    1. Open source isn't just about the license.

    It's about the community. Open source is a fantastic software development model, but it's as much about the people as it is about the license involved. Most prominent projects have mailing lists, a GitHub project and IRC / Slack channels; getting both users and maintainers to collaborate in a positive way encourages the growth of new ideas.

    2. Encourage contributions by laying out the proper groundwork.

    Offer a set of contributing guidelines, so users feel welcome. Highlight issues on your issue tracker that are easy for new contributors to tackle. Joining a new project can be an intimidating experience, but it doesn't have to be.

    3. Respect the contributions people make to your project.

    Our team considers everyone who contributes to RethinkDB to be a co-collaborator with us on the project. Whether that takes the form of submitting a pull request on GitHub, testing a new feature or helping a fellow user out, we try to celebrate everyone who helps us build RethinkDB by saying thanks with a shout-out, a kind note, some stickers or a T-shirt.

    4. Use art to communicate a vision for the project.

    Software is a vehicle for ideas, and art has the same ability to communicate new ideas. Creating a friendly mascot, such as the GitHub Octocat or the RethinkDB Thinker, helps give a face to the project and an identity for your community. You can use art liberally to communicate complex ideas, and it's a great way for a new contributor with an artistic background to get involved.

    5. Good documentation predicts user problems.

    When someone reports a problem with your project, take a moment to review your documentation. All too often, good documentation could have prevented the confusion; good documentation tools include an FAQ, a cookbook for common patterns and a robust set of examples. Better yet, make your documentation open source as well and encourage contributions!

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