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More Big Name Technology Corporations Are Going Open Source

  
  
  

Recently, Apple released its programming language, Swift 2, to the public. By releasing Swift to the open source community, Apple is giving software developers more access to and control over the programming language. This release opens up a myriad of exciting possibilities for application development, software advancements and increased functionality.

The immediate result of Apple’s decision regarding Swift is that more developers will be able to leverage this code to create apps and software. However, Swift is simply the latest language to become open sourced, and this event points to a larger and deeper ongoing trend that affects more than Web developers. This release re-emphasizes the fact that open source is fast becoming a technology standard, and suggests that more prominent technology companies will be embracing open source in the near future, rather than resisting it.

Widespread adoption of open source has positive implications for developers as well as for the public at large, including: 

  • More resources and freedom: Open source gives developers access to the inner workings of the code and more options for working with it. Rather than engaging in risky and non-compliant practices to further innovation, developers can focus energy on creating useful apps and software with the unprecedented freedom that open source provides. 
  • New platforms: More open source code means that apps and programs don’t have to be confined to one or two platforms, but can be designed to work on any platform and device. This will lead to additional options for technology consumers as well as for developers, and will increase healthy competition in the marketplace. 
  • Increased opportunity for innovation: Open source gives developers free reign to use their creativity and knowledge to tinker with code and create something entirely new. They can be led by their own imaginations as well as by consumer demand, rather than being restricted by proprietary or platform-based software. 

Interested in reading more about Apple’s involvement with open source? Read one of our previous blogs where we looked at another open source app recently released by Apple. 

Facebook 'Likes' Open Source and It’s Not Afraid to Show It

  
  
  

Facebook is no stranger to the world of open source. In fact, the developers behind the larger-than-life social media platform make their source code publicly available regularly. As such, Web developers beyond the walls of the Facebook headquarters benefit from the innovative technology produced by the social media giant and use it to improve or expand upon their own open source projects.

Most recently, Facebook released the source code for its new static analyzer dubbed “Facebook Infer.” This platform will aid fellow Web developers detect bugs within insufficiently produced source code. For instance, the Facebook Infer platform, when deployed, will automatically scan a developer’s source code and alert the creator of unforeseen vulnerabilities. With such assistance from the analyzer, software innovators will be able to resolve any shortcomings in their products before market release. In this way, Facebook code developers are helping their fellow technologists produce better software, faster.

One of the greatest advantages touted by users of open source software is its ability to speed up time to market without reducing product quality. Facebook has proven this point with open source software that, when shared with and subsequently deployed by the greater open source community, has improved both developer productivity and end-user satisfaction.

Furthermore, Facebook’s new bug-detecting platform stands to raise awareness of another important initiative for open source developers and software end users alike: regularly auditing code to mitigate future risks. And while this newly open sourced platform can help prevent unsecure software from going to market in its nascent stage, businesses must still complete due diligence on any open source software they adopt into their IT infrastructure to mitigate future vulnerabilities..

To do so, organizations can seek assistance from open source code auditing service providers to assess vulnerabilities and third-party elements that, otherwise, might not be detected inside the open source software. An open source license management platform, for instance, can specifically ensure that an organization’s use of open source software is compliant with the software’s licensing guidelines and regulations.

So, let Facebook help with mitigating bugs and vulnerabilities in the beginning stages of software development, and then add a best-in-class open source auditing service to combat potential risks for the rest of the software’s life.

Want more information on Facebook’s involvement with open source? Read this blog.

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Open Source Education Begins at an Early Age

  
  
  

The rate at which our society, on a global scale, is becoming more digitally inclined means that the generations to come will be more dependent on technology than at any other time in our evolution. Even now, children must gain technology knowledge at an early age to succeed in school and in their future careers. In classrooms, technology is heavily used on a daily basis by students to perform their daily tasks and complete work. To this end, many open source organizations are contributing to open source education for today’s youth.

Open source software (OSS) is becoming a standard in the technology market, and much of today’s youth will find themselves using open source in their future educational and professional endeavors. But to do so, this younger generation will first need to develop the skills that will allow them to build, create and explore OSS technology effectively down the road. This calls for education in open source.

An eBook from opensource.com outlines how today’s youth are getting involved in open source and stresses the role of open source education during childhood development to create a familiarity with the concept. The eBook explores the role of open source in the following areas:

Education: Implementing open source at educational institutions allows for the facilities to enjoy heightened accessibility and availability when it comes to their technology resources. Compared to proprietary solutions, open source offers many advantages for education, including reduced costs associated with support, maintenance and operation. What’s more, open source at the organizational level gives schools the opportunity to waste fewer resources on infrastructure and put more toward the students themselves.

Exploration: Students can learn to manipulate and create open technologies when open source is available to them. Children today are unafraid of technology, and many are growing up familiar with video game modifications, cheat codes and workarounds for nearly every type of device and program. Open source allows—and even encourages—this type of exploration and discovery. Rather than being discouraged from examining the inner workings of a program or, worse, adopting a hacking mindset, students using open source are free to satisfy their curiosity and learn by doing.

Coding: Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of jobs go unfilled in the technology sector due to a lack of qualified applicants. As such, today’s youth must be equipped to fill that void, ensuring future success for themselves, the economy and technological development. Open source is a tool that teaches kids how to code from the ground up, enabling them to see what’s behind the scenes in the software and games they encounter every day, giving them the power to manipulate, create and test to become active participants in technology.

Technology skills: Even children as young as three and four play on smartphones and tablets. Open source gives young children much more opportunity than simply being exposed to a screen as a user. Instead, using open source allows even very young learners to create their own learning environments and customize technology for their own use. These are important skills that they will need as they grow to adulthood in a technology-driven world.

The Reality of Cybercrime

  
  
  

Cybercrime is an unfortunate reality of today’s business world, and it represents a threat for many companies’ bottom lines. A recent study based on 257 benchmarked organizations, found that the mean cost of cybercrime is $7.6 million per year. Faced with the threat of these high costs, companies must work harder to ensure their data and networks are secure in order to avoid devastating financial losses and potentially enduring damage to their reputations.

Using open source software is a way for organizations to maximize their output and can be a tool to safeguard their private information and defend against cybercrime. Open source software makes it possible to create stronger code that is less vulnerable to attacks as it is developed by a community of dedicated coders. As such, defense against cybercrime starts at the code level.

Furthermore, regular software audits are a comprehensive way to identify and reduce the vulnerabilities that can leave a company open to cybercrime. A company that performs regular open source software audits is taking a crucial step in keeping their information safe and secure. Performing regular open source software audits can also:

  • Identify irregularities and flaws in code that could open up vulnerability to a cyberattack.  Open source allows for close examination and auditing at the code level to find potential weaknesses.
  • Find injection flaws that could enable cybercriminals to insert commands into the code that could access information, put the software or hardware under criminal control, or even bring down the whole system.
  • Ensure that code is correctly encrypted to prevent hackers from presenting false authentication to bypass security measures and gain access to servers.
  • Check for necessary authorizations in open source code that can guarantee only the appropriate people are able to view, access and manipulate the code.

Companies that use open source software can work towards safeguarding their information by regularly auditing software in order to locate and remedy vulnerabilities that could lead to more complex problems down the road.

Still have more questions? In a previous blog post we have discussed some common code mistakes and how to avoid security breaches.

Open Source Software for the Mobile Worker

  
  
  

Today’s workers are more mobile than ever before, having Smartphone applications that keep them informed and in-sync with their colleagues when they are on-the-go a critical business tool. Full-featured, mobile apps are on every worker’s 'wish list', and the race is on to produce Smartphone apps that include messaging features to provide workers a robust set of capabilities enabling them to communicate instantly, from anywhere.describe the image

Mobile platform provider Magnet Systems Inc. recently stepped up to the plate by releasing its Magnet Message. This Apache open source solution enables developers to add messaging to any mobile app they create. Magnet Message enables developers to include push messaging, in-app chat, rich message payloads, message delivery confirmation and publish-subscribe capabilities to the Smartphone apps they are creating.

These types of messaging features are in high-demand among mobile workers, presenting an opportunity for app developers to create a larger market for their products. Open source accelerates the delivery of these features and thereby satisfies the immediate needs of the marketplace.

This is a prime example of how open source is changing the way developers create Smartphone apps. Capabilities like the ones offered by Magnet Message are in demand, but including them in an app could add weeks or months to development time. By using open source, development time is accelerated and products are more quickly taken to market. The flexibility open source provides enables developers to solve problems and meet market demand quickly so they can seize the moment rather than letting it slip away.

Thanks to open source, developers can respond more intuitively to segments similar to the mobile app market that are experiencing rapid change and have high demands. Creating apps that use open source allows developers to focus their efforts on innovation, creativity and problem solving, rather than spending months building infrastructure. 

Let us know your go-to apps for business in the comment section.

Advancements in Open Source Assistive Technologies

  
  
  

Open source software (OSS) positively impacts many large industries from healthcare to education—these effects are now being felt at the individual level as well. The speed of delivery and cost efficiency of OSS enables developers to provide multi-use, flexible and readily available software as opposed to proprietary options. OSS allows software developers to create assistive technologies using open source interfaces that directly improve the day-to-day lives of members of the special needs community or individuals who have physical disabilities.

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 15 percent of the world’s population lives with some type of disability. Individuals with special needs or physical disabilities are looking for innovative technologies to help them function with ease and autonomy in day-to-day tasks and when in the workforce.

Assistive Technology Software is a term used to describe assistive, adaptive or rehabilitative devices that are used by individuals with disabilities to promote increased independence and quality of life. Unfortunately, because individuals with disabilities represent a small percentage of our global population means designing assistive technology has not been a priority. For this reason, most proprietary assistive technology to date has been cost-prohibitive for many people in this community as it is highly specialized.

As such, the flexibility and lower pricing of OSS products have allowed for more easily attainable assistive technology. Provided that users heed open source license compliance when creating and modifying code, they are free to contribute as many new ideas to the OSS assistive technology market as possible.

Due to this freedom and flexibility, there is now a wealth of open source innovations that can support existing software. For instance, Linux has a screen reader support function that can be installed on software like Knoppix and Ubuntu.

In fact, there are now entire code repositories—like Open Source Assistive Technology Software (OATS)—dedicated to storing the increasing number of open source assistive technologies that are currently available today. On the OATS website, users can search for open source software by the type of need it serves, e.g., visual and auditory. It also allows developers to work directly with users and other programmers to work on new features and reuse existing applications.

Recently, the Japanese company exii developed a 3D printed bionic limb who’s source code is freely available. By making the source code available, exii hopes to encourage innovation and accessibility in the maker community and in doing so is bringing game-changing assistive technology within the grasp of many individuals living with physical disabilities.

It is typical of the OSS community to freely share information – opening up files, publishing projects, documentation and demonstrations. This is a community of individuals who want their code to be used in as many applications and for as much good as possible.

The emergence of open source assistive technology showcases the many ways that OSS can improve not only our industry-specific needs, but to improve the day-to-day quality of life for many.

A Peek Inside the Life of Open Source Code Developers

  
  
  

When your business uses open source code, but you aren’t a coder yourself the process of creating original, modifying or contributing to code might seem complicated. But, whether you’re the CEO or CFO, you understand that your organizations’ IT workers adopted open source software for sound reasons such as cost efficiency, security and quality.

Who are the developers behind the game-changing business tools that you use to augment your organization’s productivity? Behind each platform lays diligent, open source community members whose dedication to innovation has provided you with the best-in-class technology you utilize day in and day out.

A recent survey conducted by Stack Overflow can help us glean some interesting insights into the lives of today’s code developers.

For example:

  • 25 percent of developers have more than 10 years of coding experience
  • 48 percent of respondents are self-taught in coding
  • 70 percent of coders spend 2 or more hours outside of work coding as a hobby; but the average developer spends more than 7 hours per week coding on the side
  • 64 percent of developers who use community websites such as Stack Overflow truly enjoy providing answers and guidance to their fellow coders who use the site

In looking at these statistics, it is clear that open source developers are a dedicated community who love to code both professionally and for pleasure. In addition, the open source community is just that—a community in the fullest sense of the word—comprised of a comprehensive support system and willingness to lend a hand to new members or to people who simply want to learn more about open source.

It is clear from this survey that open source software is much more than just your business’s means of communicating, aggregating data, etc.  The open source software that you use was made with careful attention to detail, by a community driven by purpose and passion

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Spotlight on Open Source Arcade Game Software Developers

  
  
  

Open source software touches nearly every aspect of our lives, from our daily business dealings to the hobbies that we enjoy at home. Now, even arcade games have gone open source with the recent announcement by Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME) who revealed that it is making its source code open to the public.thumb 365364mame logo1

MAME is now able to continue development of classic gaming software thanks to its nonprofit support organization, MAMEdev.org. Older console or arcade games are becoming increasingly difficult to find which leads many to turn to emulators to fashion their own arcade experiences. With MAME, the emulator platform is now open to modification and contributions from the greater public after some 18 years of being closed to the open source community.

Indeed, beloved arcade games from MAME can now be accessed and enjoyed on a more meaningful level by their players. MAME’s goal is to aid in the distribution of their platform games and allow developers to learn through working on the boards. Now, open source developers who grew up playing these types of arcade games can gain entry to the inner workings of the MAME platform and contribute their own custom code to its infrastructure.

Despite the excitement surrounding MAME’s new open source code, some hefty issues around intellectual property rights still exist. While the emulator’s code has been opened to expansion by avid players at large, contributing developers must ensure that each new modification abides by the code’s original licensing agreement.

Preserving the intellectual founding rights of MAME will enable vintage gamers to continue giving life to this emulator’s classic arcade games. As such, when open source coders decide to contribute modifications to these games, they should make use of intellectual property software audit services. In doing so, they can extract important information about the requirements for modifying the software, such as licensing and code guidelines to which they must adhere in order to contribute in way that is legally sound.

Speed Up Your Code Search with Sourcegraph

  
  
  

A search engine and code browser is available to enable developers to search more efficiently for code on the internet. Created by two graduates of Stanford, Sourcegraph is a tool that acts as an open source code search engine. Sourcegraph “semantically indexes” open source code on the web, and developers can use it to search for code in various ways using different parameters, including searching by repository, package or function. The search tool enables developers to read documents, view definitions and examine usage examples simply by clicking on the linked open source code.audit (2)

This website integrates with GitHub to offer developers in the open source community a more efficient way to search for code. The functionality that Sourcegraph provides allows developers to search and browse code quickly to obtain necessary information with just a few clicks which saves hours spent searching through documentation. Users can sign in with their GitHub accounts, allowing them to locate all open source code attributed to a particular developer.

The availability of this search tool indicates an emerging need for dynamic solutions that will help developers gain a well-rounded and deeper understanding of code as open source grows in prevalence and usage. This emphasizes the importance of heeding open source license compliance, a practice that is made easier if developers have accessible and efficient ways to search for code and learn more about the components of their particular software applications.

Programmers spend an immense amount of time reading through code in order to understand software components, identify vulnerabilities and gain understanding of the licensing requirements involved. Tools like Sourcegraph can help streamline this process and save reading through thousands of lines of documentation in order to maintain open source license compliance.

What the Closing of Microsoft’s MS Open Tech Means for Open Source Software

  
  
  

Three years ago Microsoft created a subsidiary called MS Open Tech which was solely dedicated to investment in open source projects. Microsoft has recently announced the closure of this subsidary, absorbing it into the company as a whole stating that open source is now an integral part of all of its products so no longer requiring a separate company. This announcement represents a significant advancement for open source software as not even a software giant like Microsoft can deny its mainstream presence. This is yet another example of how prevalent open source software is and how it is swiftly becoming the favored method for software development - even for vendors that previously produced only proprietary software.

By closing and absorbing its subsidiary, Microsoft is making an important statement in regards to open source. The integration of open source code and practices have become integral to the software company’s overall mission, and those standards will now be implemented across the organization as a whole. Open source is on its way to becoming an inseparable part of corporate culture and development practices at software companies and continues to be used for a variety of projects and initiatives.

With this adoption comes additional challenges as more developers accept and integrate open source code into their software it will become harder for businesses that deploy this software to determine what third party components might be included in their IT infrastructure. To mitigate these challenges it is imperative for IT managers and Web developers to use open source software license management tools. These tools identify the individual components of which their code is comprised, so they are aware of licensing obligations and intellectual property rights.

As open source becomes more commonplace, developers gain additional fredom with their software creations. To enjoy this freedom, proper measures must be taken, establishing best practices that enable organizations to leverage open source software in their projects effectively while ensuring compliance with licenses and organizational policies is critical. Find out more about the steps to effective open source software license management here.

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