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Forking Hell, Why Unification Matters By @ABridgwater | @ThingsExpo #IoT

The io.js group was formed to be a ‘fork’ as a result of higher-level vendor machinations & lower-level developer incongruities

Leaving aside (most of) the deeper technical details of the situation, an interesting development occurred in the open source community this week.

Under the auspices of The Linux Foundation, a new ‘neutral' coding community emerged as a result of the coming together of the Node.js and io.js developer groups who will now collaborate to merge their respective code bases.

Forking machinations
The smaller io.js group was formed to be a ‘fork' as a result of higher-level vendor machinations and lower-level developer incongruities.

Node.js is a platform built on Chrome's JavaScript runtime for building what we can call ‘network applications.' It is said to be relatively popular in those areas of software programming devoted to robotics, embedded applications and therefore the Internet of Things. The io.js fork is focused on npm as the package manager for Node.js to help JavaScript developers share packaged modules of code.

The new unification of the two streams is generally agreed to be good news. It will benefit the wider development of this technology and help push forward new development of tangible products in this regard.

Note: This is not to suggest that forked, skewed and tilted projects are bad news, because they're not. The development of LibreOffice in the wake of Oracle's purchase of Sun Microsystems and its less than enthusiastic backing of OpenOffice has created what many argue to be a thorough Microsoft Office beater in no uncertain terms.

The point to take from this story is that forking in open source can be good, but forking can also be comparatively less than productive - and this is important in the context of major vendors all now pledging a new open source mantra.

Sponsored by HP as this commentary is, let's consider what the company is now saying: "Open source? HP Enterprise will be all-in, post split, says CTO -- it's in 'the fabric of everything we do,' exec says." This is the headline in a recent piece running on The Register.

Project openness
HP's developments with The Machine and HP Grommet being a case in point.

The Machine is an open source project intended to "fuse memory and storage" as it flattens complex data hierarchies, bring processing closer to the data, embed security control points throughout the hardware and software stacks, and enable management and assurance of the system at scale.

HP Grommet is an open source "user experience framework" that is intended to bring consumer-grade interface development to enterprise apps. It consists of a style guide to ensure that apps are created with consumer-type interfaces says HP.

"We are the Number One contributor to the OpenStack project," said CTO Martin Fink on the above linked report. "We contribute large bodies of code to the Cloud Foundry project. We are heavily involved with partners who lead open source projects - like Hortonworks, for example. We are contributing heavily to making the cloud open source and making that real for you."

The takeaway...
The takeaway here is, open source is not just a religion you get overnight and even established projects can falter, unproductively fork and start to develop in ways that don't completely benefit the overall universe of DNA inside one particular arm of the open source codebase. HP would do well do remember this as it now moves forward... signs are positive, but the firm is a big ship... so Agility with a capital A is the watchword.

This post is sponsored by The Business Value Exchange and HP Enterprise Services

More Stories By Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

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