Seattle-based SourceLabs introduced the new technology, called Swik, as a service to the open-source community, said Brad Silverberg, managing partner at venture capital firm Ignition Partners—which has invested in SourceLabs—and a SourceLabs board member.
"Its primarily for developers and end users to find out about all the different open-source projects, including documentation, download sites, reviews, descriptions, tips, tricks, all that kind of stuff," Silverberg said. But unlike other open-source catalog offerings, "there are a couple of things that are unique about it. First of all its a wiki, so that anyone can edit, restructure or add comments—so it evolves dynamically as users use Swik.
"Another thing thats pretty cool about it is its built using RSS technology, so that if you enter a project thats not already in its database it goes out and it automatically searches and builds information or an entry for that database from existing syndication feeds and populates that database," Silverberg said. "Its actually very cool. When you enter a project that it didnt already know about, itll go out and search it and fill it in with a lot of the relevant information.
"And then if theres stuff you want to add to it, you can add to it yourself. And so it evolves dynamically as people use it, and its a nice community resource. It ensures that its always comprehensive, its always useful and its always up to date."
Alex Bosworth, a member of the SourceLabs development team, developed the solution. Bosworth is the son of Adam Bosworth, a software guru who is vice president of engineering at Google and has held key development roles at BEA Systems Inc., Microsoft Corp., Borland Software Corp. and other companies.
"When Alex gave me a demo a couple of months ago I was really blown away," Silverberg said. "Its one of those pieces of software that once a year you see something that just knocks your socks off the way it automatically evolves. It develops itself.
"When he first showed it to me a couple of months ago, the database was still pretty sparse, so we sat there and entered some project names, and Swik started to fill itself out automatically. And then you can, as a user, subscribe to it," Silverberg added, noting that the RSS capabilities enable users to subscribe to Swik.
Indeed, users can subscribe to new projects and news through any RSS feed reader, such as Bloglines, NetNewsWire or FireFoxs live bookmarks, the company said.
"We developed Swik because we saw the need for a comprehensive community resource for open source projects, one that allowed the community to share information freely," said Byron Sebastian, CEO of SourceLabs, in a statement. "Swik not only gives open source developers a broad platform to disseminate information about their projects, it also gives users real-world information that helps them choose and get the most out of open source software."
Sebastian added in an e-mail response: "We realized that by building Swik we could make it significantly easier for users to find, select and use open source projects. Participating in the open source community in this way helps SourceLabs core support business by increasing awareness of SourceLabs, and also by increasing overall user participation in the open source community. The more widely used open source is, the more successful SourceLabs is."
Swik, which was code-named SourceCaster, applies content according to the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license, so that it may be reused and repurposed in any way that users desire, Sebastian said.
SourceLabs tagline is Dependable Open Source Systems, and the company works to deliver a set of software integration, testing, support and maintenance services aimed at providing dependable open-source systems for enterprise customers, based on a variety of proven open-source projects, the company said.