Introducing The FreeFrameWork Project
By Brian Laferte for The FreeFrameWork Board of Directors
At this year's Progress Exchange in San Diego, California, some great things came forth. Two of those things were Open Source programming initiatives, one by Progress itself, and the other by the community at large. The Progress initiative, POSSE, proposes a new direction where PSC code written in 4GL becomes open to the community at large to peruse, extend, and offer those extensions back into the main Progress product. When finally in full gear, this fabulous opportunity becomes a boon for both Progress the company and Progress the community.
The second great thing to come forth was the announcement of the FreeFrameWork Project. The FreeFrameWork Project is an Open Source initiative for the Progress WebSpeed product. Just a week or so before the San Diego Exchange several leaders of the WebSpeed community were contacted by the creators of the initial FreeFrameWork code. They spent a good portion of time over the prior months developing a set methodologies and tools, into a framework. The original framework's purpose was to provide internal staff members with a consistent set of tools for building their clients' WebSpeed applications.
It quickly became clear that building a powerful framework and continuing to maintain it, would take more time and resources than a single company could give. At this point, having built a beta version of the framework, original designer Steve Southwell, with the support of his company United Systems, Inc. behind him, offered this concept and the source code built to date, to the Progress and WebSpeed community at large. The intent was to find out if there was any interest for this type of framework within the community, and what possibility of the community itself taking over the framework and continuing its development.
The FreeFrameWork Project was born and announced to the Progress community on the first day of the Exchange. Between word of mouth, and demonstrations of the existing FreeFrameWork beta version at the product expo, the community interest became clearly evident. Before the conference ended, the Progress Email Group had already established a forum specific to FreeFrameWork, and discussion began on how to best organize the efforts. Based on consensus from a majority of the people subscribing to the list, nominations for board members were made and an Interim Board of Directors of seven people was elected. The current board members are David Cleary of Progress Software Corporation (US), Geoff Crawford of Innovative Client Servers (US), Per Digre of Progress Software Professional Services (US), Brian Laferte of webspeedconsulting,.com (US), Julian Lyndon-Smith of Dot R Ltd. (UK), Steve Southwell of United Systems, Inc. (US), and Peter van Dam of Netsetup (Netherlands). These members were elected on July 1st, 2000 and will server until December 31st, 2000, with the goal of establishing the FreeFrameWork Project as a true Open Source project. Currently the board is in the process of establishing FreeFrameWork as legal entity.
The current mission of the FreeFrameWork Project is to organize the WebSpeed community for shared code development. Although an official mission statement of the specific purposes has not been approved yet by the board, the following goals are under discussion:
A fully-functioning beta version of FreeFrameWork is currently available on the FreeFrameWork web site (www.freeframework.org). The current version already includes the following features:
Some of the features that are being looked at for inclusion in the initial non-beta release are:
Besides the initial FreeFrameWork code, a total of five submissions have already taken place. PSC Consultant and Board Member Per Digre's Plus Pak is one of the largest collections of tips, tools, and tricks for WebSpeed. Included are a database browser, an application compiler much improved over the standard WorkShop, Database administration from the web tools, a SpeedScript beautifier, a web accessible VST viewer, and an interface to the RCS source code control system among others.
Industry consultants Scott Auge, Geoff Crawford, and Bob Mirro have each contributed some of their own utilities. Scott's contribution is a set of WebSpeed functions for interfacing with the unix standard source code system SCCS. Geoff has contributed a standardized procedure for converting Progress data into a graph in GIF format. A procedure to send binary file downloads direct to your browser was written by Bob Mirro, and has been used in many applications after its first appearance on the PEG WebSpeed list.
Bruce McIntyre from the ISS Group has contributed a design document detailing the ideas behind their commercial WebSpeed add on called eFramework.
Right now the FreeFrameWork Project is recruiting people who are interested in participating in the Project. You need not be a WebSpeed developer to join since code writing is only one aspect of the entire project. System users are sought to provide much needed real world feed back as well as project direction. Not everyone has several hours a day to work producing a new product or even trying out an existing system. All levels of commitment are gladly accepted, from simply speaking up when new product decisions are discussed to actually installing and modifying the FreeFrameWork code for your own needs.
If you are interested in getting involved with the FreeFrameWork Project go to the web site at 'www.freeframework.org'. There you will find lots of great information about the framework itself and be able to download the framework so you can review it and start using it today. For insight into Open Source development, read "Why Open Source Works" by board member Geoff Crawford. (Figure 1.) Join the projects mailing list hosted at the PEG, firstname.lastname@example.org. (also abbreviated email@example.com) Whether contributing code or just ideas, you join the growing list of WebSpeed community members who help FreeFrameWork achieve its mission. Thank you.