Tag Archives: Open Source

Why the Open Source Development Model Works

I’ve stumbled across this video several time, most recently on a blog post of an extremely talented developer and someone I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

If you’re not a developer it can be kind of hard to wrap your head around what is being outline but if you stop thinking of what is being talked about as work and more as a something you enjoy doing it makes more sense. They make a great reference comparing work to music in the video but it could be anything, painting, gardening, working on your car. The thing a lot of non-developers (managers, bosses, what have you) don’t get is that some of us in the IT field do this because its what we enjoy doing. I wasn’t always in IT, at one time I was in a completely unrelated industry and even during that period, my free time was doing some sort of development or general computer hacking. Not because it was going to move me up in the company I was working at but because it was what I wanted to do in my free time and has been that way since my Dad got me a TRS-80 for Christmas ’85.

This is why Open Source Development works. Not because there is a big carrot hanging at the end of the stick, but because there is a passion and thirst for knowledge. The reward structure in Open Source is always difficult to explain to people but this video does a great job at capturing some of the attributes that does drive Open Source Development.

Posted via email from shocm

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Sony Electronics Creates Open Source Development Community

Last week Sony open the doors to a new web site, as well as a new approach for the organization, called Sony DeveloperSony Developer is meant to become a hub for Open Source development efforts for Sony Electronic products.

Currently, Sony has enabled the community for “SNAP” which is an application framework for consumer electronic devices. From the SNAP site;

“SNAP stands for Sony’s Networked Application Platform and is part of an emerging new ecosystem for making downloadable applications available to networked devices like TV’s, Blu-ray Disk players and other Consumer Electronic products. SNAP is in the very early stages of development and has a lot of room to grow”

This will open an avenue that will allow developers to get their applications onto SNAP enabled devices such as televisions. SNAP is based on the GNUstep community, whose origin dates back to the OpenStep standard developed by NeXT Computer Inc (now Apple Computer Inc.) which also implements the extensions added by Apple in the form of Cocoa. The main language on GNUstep for SNAP is ObjectiveC and the SNAP development web site points a lot of great resources on ObjectC from beginners guide to optimization.

Sony offers a guides and a SDK for download to start with your development efforts. It’s mentioned on the SNAP web site that some good examples of applications would be “Games, Widgets (weather, news, traffic, etc), remote controls, social apps, media sharing apps, media players, home automation”. Also according to the web site Sony will be hosting contest in the future for SNAP developers with prizes ranging from Sony televisions to Sony Walkman.

Another section of the Sony Developer Web site will be the dash section, which is currently unavailable but from what I’ve heard should be opened in the coming weeks. dash is the Sony new Personal Internet Viewer. Developed with Flex, Sony is hoping to encourage and foster application developed on the dash product.

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Open Source, Open World

Came across this great graph outlining some interesting facts around Open Source. Original article was called "Should Open Source Be An Enemy Of The State?" and is itself a good article discussing some of the paradox around recent suggestion made is US policies and Open Source. 

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Sony Pictures Imageworks Releases Open Source Shading Language (OSL) to Development Community

CULVER CITY, Calif., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ — Sony Pictures Imageworks, the award-winning visual effects and digital character animation unit of Sony Pictures Digital Productions, released the Alpha version of its source code for OSL, its Open Shading Language, it was announced today by Rob Bredow, Chief Technology Officer of Sony Pictures Imageworks.OSL is a fundamentally different approach to shader languages for visual effects and computer animation rendering.  OSL was designed to enable and support the latest developments in rendering technology.  Unlike previous shader languages, OSL assumes a rendering system that can perform ray tracing, and provides for natural global illumination and a demand for physical accuracy.  All of which is significantly different from the assumptions made years ago when most of the current shader languages were first developed.

Sony Pictures Imageworks initially developed OSL for use with its in-house renderer in the production of animated feature films and visual effects. The language specification released today was developed with input by other visual effects and animation studios, including Rhythm & Hues, who also wish to use it. The code is now available through Imageworks’ Open Source website at http://opensource.imageworks.com/

Imageworks announced its Open Source program last August and has spent the past several months preparing OSL for use on its upcoming films.

This early release of code follows the model of the most successful open source programs in which development from this point forward will be done “in the open” for others to watch, use and contribute to as desired. OSL is licensed under a “production friendly” open source license.  Imageworks is optimistic that OSL will be adopted broadly by those needing a modern shading language for production needs.

“We’re excited to be sharing OSL with the world,” said Rob Bredow.   “Our goal is to follow the model of the most successful open source software by making our development public.  This provides the very best opportunities for collaboration and adoption.  Even though it’s in its early stages, there is a lot of sophisticated groundwork already laid in OSL. We look forward to the response from the computer graphics community”

OSL TAKES A DIFFERENT APPROACH

According to Imageworks’ OSL lead developer Larry Gritz, one of the industry’s foremost experts in shading and rendering, shaders in other languages compute the color of an object as viewed from a particular direction.  In this way, the shader is a black box to the renderer — all the renderer can do is execute the shader, for a particular direction, and get the result.

What distinguishes OSL from prior languages is that the material properties of surfaces, explicit descriptions of how light is scattered by them, are treated as a first-class concept that the shaders compute and that the renderer can then manipulate and reason about.  The renderer can evaluate these properties, i.e., figure out the outgoing radiance in any particular direction.  This is just one of many things OSL can do. It also “importance samples” these surfaces, which is helpful for efficient global illumination because it lets the renderer send the rays in the places that count the most, instead of just groping around in the hopes of finding important light paths.   Because sampling and evaluation are de-coupled from the shader execution, OSL allows a renderer to reorder computations in really interesting ways that could greatly improve speed and/or image quality.

Also, OSL is very consistent with physical units throughout, which not only improves the ability to accurately simulate materials and lights, but it also solves some longstanding problems in production, such as matching results between area light sources, emissive geometry visible to GI, and HDRI environment maps. These matches are now possible with OSL.

About OSL (Open Shading Language)

Open Shading Language (OSL) is a small but rich language for programmable shading in advanced renderers and other applications. OSL is similar to C, as well as other shading languages; however, it is specifically designed for advanced rendering algorithms with features such as radiance closures, BRDFs, and deferred ray tracing as first-class concepts.

The OSL project includes a complete language specification, a compiler from OSL to an intermediate assembly-like byte code, an interpreter that executes OSL shaders on collections of points in a SIMD manner, and extensive standard shader function library. These all exist as libraries with straightforward C++ APIs, and so may be easily integrated into existing renderers, compositing packages, image processing tools, or other applications. Additionally, the source code can be easily customized to allow for renderer-specific extensions or alterations, or custom back-ends to translate to GPUs or other special hardware.

For more information and access to OSL, visit http://opensource.imageworks.com

ABOUT SONY PICTURES IMAGEWORKS

Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc. is the Academy Award® winning, state-of-the-art visual effects and animation unit of Sony Pictures Digital Productions. The Imageworks production environment supports live-action visual effects and character animation, all-CG animation, Imageworks 3D stereoscopic, and  Imageworks Interactive, a full service creative group that produces websites and supports digital marketing for the studio and outside clients.

Imageworks’ achievements have been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Oscars® for its work on SPIDER-MAN™ 2 and the CG animated short film THE CHUBBCHUBBS!. In 2008, SURF’S UP was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. In 2007, two of Imageworks’ projects, SUPERMAN RETURNS and the all-CG animated feature MONSTER HOUSE, were nominated for Academy Awards in the Outstanding Achievement in Visual Effects and Best Animated Feature respectively. With those two nominations, Imageworks became the first studio to be recognized in the same year in these distinct areas, an indication of the diversity and quality of the company’s capabilities. Other Oscar® nominated projects include THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, SPIDER-MAN™, HOLLOW MAN, STUART LITTLE and STARSHIP TROOPERS, for a total of ten nominations.

Imageworks’ most recently completed projects include 2012, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, G-FORCE, WATCHMEN, VALKYRIE, BODY OF LIES, EAGLE EYE, HANCOCK, SPEED RACER, BEOWULF, and I AM LEGEND.  Upcoming projects include ALICE IN WONDERLAND and CATS AND DOGS 2.

Imageworks maintains operations in Culver City, CA; Novato, CA; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Chennai, India.

Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc. is a division of Sony Pictures Digital Production Inc.

For more information, please visit www.imageworks.com.

SOURCE Sony Pictures Imageworks

RELATED LINKS
http://www.imageworks.com

Always have to call out where my Sony world and my Open Source world overlap.

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Government, Open Source, and Saving the World

Imagine if the Declaration of Independence was written in “Word 1776.” What are the odds that we’d be able to open that original document today?

Great quote by David Egts, Principal Solutions Architect at Red Hat, Inc., in a interview on the WashingtonPost.com web site Viewpoint. He was highlighting the importance of not only Open Source but Open Standards in everything from business to government. There is a lot of talk of companies that are struggling through these rough economical times and the Open Source road maps that can help them through. Those exact “road maps” are also being explored for government implementation which I personally think is long over due.

The discussion with David Egts was a great forum that allowed the public at large to ask direct questions. David Egts covers a wide range of topics. It’s a good read. Suggest you go over to the web site and check it out.

http://discuss.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/zforum/05/dlt.htm

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Microsoft showing pride in Open Source

Ok, sensative subject I know. It can be tough to mention Microsoft and Open Source in a positive sentence that doesn’t talk about one hammer on the other. However that is where we find ourselves today. In a blog post on MSDN blogs, Sara Ford the Program Manager for CodePlex which is Microsoft’s open source project hosting site, talked about the CodePlex websites growth over the past year.

In just about every category Sara touches on shows an increase of over 100%. This includes things like visits, unique visitors, and new projects. Maybe this will inspire Microsoft to invest more into their open source initiatives. Yeah, that was probably pushing it a little.

CodePlex Weblog : CodePlex 2008 – A Year in Review.

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Caution Implementing Open Source

Will grep 4 source

During this time of financial “belt tightening” we are all feeling the pinch and probably no one more than the IT organization budgets across the corporate map. IT is typically the first to get hit, and hit hard, by cut backs. It’s during this time that CIOs and VP’s who wouldn’t have given Open Source Solutions much of a look start to turn to Open Source as some sort of magic bullet to allow them to get what they need and stay within budget. I wish to throw out these words of warning to both the afore mentioned group and the Open Source enthusiast who have been working to get Open Source into their environments and might be thinking this is the opportunity they were waiting for.

Yes, there are financial benefits to having an Open Source architecture and those people who have one will be able to manage the rough waters moving forward a lot easier but if you have not already established this environment then chances are you’ve already missed the boat this time around. It should be made very clear that there is a cost to implement any environment, including an Open Source environment, and more so if you are attempting to replace an existing environment.

For my fellow Open Source brothers (and sisters) who long to hear the phrase “let’s move our environment to Open Source” please proceed with a great deal of caution. Make sure the spirit of the initiative to move to Open Source is one of genuine architectural decision making and not one of financial desperation. In the latter scenario, organizations have already conceded to needing to “cut corners” and see Open Source as a way of doing this. The message should be made clear that Open Source is not a corner cutting solution. Furthermore, there are no substitutes for best practice and common sense, so do not sacrifice your architecture for the opportunity to implement a piece of Open Source you’ve wanted to put in place, make sure it’s put in place correctly. It will do more harm to your environment, and the efforts to establish Open Source as a better solution, if your implementation is done poorly and without enough forward thinking and ultimately fails.

Final suggestions:
Where Open Source fits, IMPLEMENT! Accept there will be cost.
Where Open Source needs to replace another solution, plan out the implementation carefully and try not to sacrifices any current functionality you may have now.
Nothing replaces best practices and having clear, well defined standards.
Good Luck!

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APIs or Open Source

I posted my first question on Linkedin Q&A service and I have to say the speed and quality of the replies are wonderful. So the question went like this;

Is a closed source solution with good APIs a better approach than an Open Source solution?

I went on to explain;
Would you rank a “closed source” solution with a great set of easy to use APIs on the same level as a good Open Source solution?

So for example, let’s say your company needed a blog. You could go and download any number of Open Source blogs and customize it to your company’s needs, or you might spend money on a proprietary blog system that forces you to do things a certain way, or would you rather a closed source (still a proprietary) solution that “out of the box” had you do things a certain way but also offered APIs that allowed you to build you own interface or feed your blog to another solution?

Here are a couple of the great replies I got back:

Having access to the source code is fantastic, since it gives you a great way to – in theory – take matters into your own hands and diagnose any issue, and extend with any feature, you so wish. If you’re in a large corporate environment and you need to build in a custom extension to make it acceptable to your users (eg. integrate with your company’s proprietary SSO solution) then this can be invaluable.

I think most times the decision will come down to supporting the application and overall cost. Sometimes bigger business needs to have an expert to call when things go south. In smaller businesses, sometimes you wing it.

Each solution has its place. You just have to make that decision in the best interests of your business and your goals.

Its not a question of open or closed and its definitely not a question of Hosted versus SaaS. Its about whether the solution is component based, tailored, scalable and replaceable.
For instance if you opt for a closed solution with really great APIs – that works so long as everything you need to do has been anticipated by the API provider. Unless you use a standardized api (like open-social) or an api that is so dominant that the market provides good adapters to standards (like Facebook ) you will always be dependent upon the development and deployment plan of the closed system you’ve selected.

I think you actually answered the question yourself, Eric. In my experience, the answer to this always comes down to the two main points you mentioned. Do you NEED the flexibility of an OSS solution? If you have the resources, and the need for true customization, then OSS is always a great option.

Regarding patches and security, a well maintained OSS project with an active community and a wide install base is generally going to be ahead of the curve when it comes to bug fixes, etc.


You can see the question hosted here

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Bill Gates and Open Source

I think it goes without saying that I am a huge supporter of Open Source but believe it or not I am also a big fan of Bill Gates. You’ve got to respect what he did for the industry and what he does for the world through his charities. The guy is a geek’s version of Michael Jordon. I don’t agree with everything the man does obviously but I think the guy has a great mind and he will be missed in the computer industry when he finally moves on.

Anyways, I enjoy watching Bill Gates talk but I kind of caught something interesting in this last interview I was watching.

Here is a link to the interview:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7462156.stm

At about 1.45 Bill talks about how finding the source code for an operating system took him and Paul Allen to the next level on tinkering. I thought to myself how fortunate we were that he had that oppurtunity to look at and study an operating systems source code. It would have been a real shame if the ability to look at source code was deprived from Bill Gates. I wonder how many great thinkers Linux has or will inspire by offering them a similar opportunity.

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