Apple's ResearchKit, npm private modules, and more open source news

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In this week's edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at the release of Apple's ResearchKit, the launch of npm private modules, Docker news, and more open source news.

Open source news roundup for April 11 - 17, 2015

Apple releases ResearchKit

On April 14, Apple released the ResearchKit open source framework for creating medical research applications. This framework was first announced last month, and is now available to developers. According to Apple's press release, "[t]he first research apps developed using ResearchKit study asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Parkinson's disease". The official apps developed so far, of course, require an iPhone or the most recent generation of iPod Touch, but the framework's source code itself is available on GitHub for anyone to use and modify as they see fit. It remains to be seen how well ResearchKit can move beyond Apple's own software ecosystem, but releasing the project on GitHub provides an opportunity for developers to re-purpose the code for devices outside the iOS family of devices.

Ars Technica's story about the release of ResearchKit covers some of the features and limitations. The framework allows developers to create applications build around three key modules: participant consent, surveys, and active tasks (i.e., requiring the user to do some kind of activity). However, one of the drawbacks that Ars Technica notes is that Research Kit "doesn't allow for scheduled surveys or active tasks, meaning that apps won't be able to remind users to perform certain activities at set intervals without the user remembering to do so."

npm launches private modules

It is now possible to have private modules on npm's hosted service for Node packages. Similar to GitHub's paid accounts, npm now allows users to pay a fee to have private projects. These private projects can be shared with other paying npm customers. TechCrunch reports that, according to Isaac Schlueter (the original developer of npm and co-founder of the company of the same name), "being able to run a private registry has long been one of the most requested features from npm's users, but it took the company a while to launch this because running projects from multiple users on its own servers and being able to keep that data safe is a bit more difficult than the company's previous projects."

Docker raises $95 million

Docker, the company behind the Linux-based container project of the same name, has acquired $95 million in funding after its most recent venture capital round. TechCrunch reports that Docker "still hasn't spent most of its Series B funding yet, but the Docker team decided to capitalize on its current momentum in order to be able to scale up as needed." Wired points out that "you can't attend a developer conference these days without hearing at least a couple talks on containers" and that this money will allow Docker to fend off competition from competing projects, e.g., CoreOS's Rocket. The funding Docker has secured help it cement its place in the market and provide adopters of Docker's technology with the peace of mind that Docker will be around for the foreseeable future.

Pivotal's GemFire is now open source

InfoWorld reports that Pivotal's GemFire (an in-memory distributed database) has become an Apache Incubator project named Geode. Earlier this year, Pivotal announced their plan to open some of the technologies and now they have done so by open sourcing GemFire and turning it over the the Apache Foundation. In addition, CMSWire Reports that Pivotal will be becoming a Platinum Sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation. As ZDNet reports, now that Geode is open source and available to download, "Pivotal is actively encouraging developers to download and evaluate the database."

In other news

Thanks, as always, to staff members and moderators for their help this week. Make sure to check out our event calendar, to see what's happening next week in open source.

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