The 4-year-old DevCentral site, representing F5s effort to bridge the gap between application developers and network professionals, to date has some 9000 registered users who collaborate with each other to help solve problems that span applications and the network.
F5s new iRules script editor "looks like a development environment for application developers and feels like the scripting languages networking professionals are used to," said Erik Giesa, vice president of product management at F5 in Seattle.
F5s iRules, based on the Tool Command Language, are customizable commands that give developers and network professionals more finely tuned control over how F5s Big IP application delivery controller directs application traffic. It works with F5s Traffic Management Operating System.
The new iRules editor is intended to address the divide between application developers and networking professionals, "one of the great classic problems in networking," according to Abner Germanow, director of enterprise network research at IDC (International Data Corp.) in Framingham, Mass.
"There is a lot of functionality in the network that can help the applications be delivered in a more expedient way. You can use the network to prioritize traffic, use it to ensure that the application isnt doing something it shouldnt be doing. One thing iRules does is allow the network and application teams to really engage in a common effort of solving the business problems," Germanow added.
The new iRules editor speeds development of iRules with templates that guide the development of custom commands, highlighted iRule commands and events, pre-deployment syntax checking, hyperlinked commands for fast access to documentation, the ability to share useful iRules with other community members through DevCentral CodeShare, and synchronization for importing or exporting iRules commands.
The new iRules editor focuses heavily on facilitating collaboration. For example, an F5 network professional looking to collaborate with application developers to solve difficult problems could give the developers the iRules editor. The developers could use it to write a rule that could solve the problem and automatically submit the rule to the F5 devices.
"It sits inert until the network operator applies the rule and associates it with a virtualized application," Giesa said.
The iRules editor can also be used to facilitate collaboration among F5 customers who share expertise in vertical markets, encouraging innovation in the community of F5 users.
With usage of the DevCentral site growing at about 1,000 new users every quarter, F5 also chose to extend it to users of its FirePass SSL VPN (Secure Sockets Layer VPN).
New documentation and forums focus on Webtop customization, advanced endpoint security policies, integration of BIG-IP and FirePass as well as integration of client application program interfaces.
Finally, F5 also extended its DevCentral TV video-on-demand capability by syndicating it through iTunes and Yahoo Podcasts, allowing users to view video blogs on video-capable mobile devices.