Databases adopt open licenses, JavaScript gets faster on Android, governments use more OSS, and more news

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In this edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at database vendors going all in with open source, Facebook and Uber's latest open source releases, City of London's homebuilding app, and more!

Cloudera and YugaByte fully embrace open source

In the last year, a handful of major open source database vendors have tightened their grip on their code to try to remain competitive. Two vendors have bucked that trend and have gone all in on open source.

The first of those is Cloudera, which announced that it's making "closed license components of its products open source" under the AGPL and Apache 2.0 license. While Cloudera's executives said they "had been mulling a modified open source license" like the one adopted by some of their competitors, they decided to go open and to adopt a "licensing/subscription approach" that closely mirrors that of Red Hat.

Distributed database vendor YugaByte also adopted an Apache 2.0 license, making its wares fully open source. That move brings "previously commercial-only, closed-source features such as Distributed Backups, Data Encryption, and Read Replicas into the open source core project." That code is available in the project's GitHub repository.

Latest open source releases from Facebook and Uber

It's become almost commonplace for large technology firms to release internally-developed projects as open source. Recently, both Facebook and Uber have made more of their code available to the wider software development world.

The social media giant released a JavaScript engine called Hermes. The purpose of Hermes is to "speed up start times for native Android apps built with Facebook's own React Native JavaScript framework." Marc Horowitz, a software engineer at Facebook, explained the need for Hermes, saying that most people around the world use older or lower-spec Android devices. With applications written with Hermes, users of those devices can start "interacting with an app faster with fewer obstacles like slow download times."

A number of companies are betting big on conversational AI, an artificial intelligence technology that enables computers to simulate conversation with humans. Uber is trying to make creating conversational AI platforms easier to create by open sourcing its Plato Research Dialog System, which is available on GitHub. Plato works with a number of popular deep learning frameworks and helps "data scientists and hobbyists to collect data from prototypes and demonstration systems" by recording interactions through speech, text, or dialogues.

City of London debuts open source homebuilding app

To help fight a housing shortage in the city of London, the mayor's office has teamed up with a pair of design and building firms to create PRISM, an application to help speed up "the design and construction of high-quality factory-built homes" in the city.

PRISM, the source code for which is available on GitLab, uses freely-available data to help "architects, local authority planners, and developers to quickly determine viable prefab options for their site." London's government hopes by combining the tool with prefab construction techniques, builders will be able to meet the demand for 50,000 new homes per year in the city.

Swedish digital hub adopts open source policy

In 2018, the Swedish government unveiled the Agency for Digital Government (DIGG, Myndigheten för digital förvaltning in Swedish) to administer and improve the public sector's digital service. Realizing that embracing open source is the best way to achieve its goals, DIGG has adopted a formal policy for its use of open source.

The policy states that all software that the agency develops, works with, or acquires should be open source. Software that DIGG develops is licensed under an Apache or a 2-clause BSD license. Anna Erickson, DIGG's director general, said that (link in Swedish) the agency's policy makes it "open and accessible and makes it easier for our partners both here in the country and across the country to benefit from the knowledge we have built up."

In other news

Thanks, as always, to staff members and moderators for their help this week.

That idiot Scott Nesbitt ...
I'm a long-time user of free/open source software, and write various things for both fun and profit. I don't take myself all that seriously and I do all of my own stunts.


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