Open Options

The open source success stories, such as Apache and Linux, are well-known, but the tale doesn't necessarily end there.

The open source success stories, such as Apache and Linux, are well-known, but the tale doesnt necessarily end there. Open source development is an ongoing process, and todays unknown project and anonymous developers are tomorrows cant-live-without-it piece of the infrastructure. Here are four projects that you may not have heard of.

OpenNMS is a next-generation network and systems management system under development by Shane ODonnell, the former chief architect of State Farm Insurances network. OpenNMS is designed for use by Internet service providers and midsized businesses, with a larger-scale system to follow.

The 10 developers who started the OpenNMS project formed a company around it, PlatformWorks, which was acquired by Atipa Technologies in September. Work continues on OpenNMS as an open source project, while Atipa will build commercial products around the core open source code.

A pre-1.0 version of OpenNMS went out for "test drive" to the 500 members of the OpenNMS community in the fourth quarter of last year, and a beta release is imminent. OpenNMS will include automatic discovery of devices on a Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol network and monitoring of those devices; drag-and-drop administrative interface; event management; and a graphical rule builder for network and systems management.

Tomcat is an application server spin-off of the Apache Software Foundations Jakarta project. Jakarta seeks to create a set of open source code building blocks that work with Sun Microsystems Java. Tomcat combines an ability to run Java servlets with an ability to distribute JavaServer Pages.

Although Tomcat can run on its own, it is likely to be configured with an Apache Web server. While Apache serves HTML pages to browser users, Tomcat takes over running servlets of Web applications that let users interact with the site and return JavaServer Pages to them. For example, Tomcat would support an online inventory system that must check a database system for updated information before telling a customer that his or her order would be filled immediately.

The Velocity template engine is another Apache Jakarta project that casts the services of JavaServer Pages, which are used primarily by skilled Java programmers, into a simpler template language for Web site designers and content authors.

A company wishing to present its stock price and most recent financial details could have a Java programmer assemble the details through Java code in a servlet that retrieves updated information from the database each time it receives a browser call. Once the servlet is built, a designer using Velocity can determine how the information will look when it is presented to the user.

Zope is an open source application server being used as the basis for HireTechs.coms Web site, where 30,000 technical staffer résumés are held in the technical recruiter and executive placement firms database. Zope has attracted the support of several commercial software companies that both use it and integrate it with their product lines.

Perl software vendor ActiveState expanded its Web site using Zope, and promotes documentation and the exchange of information about it on its site. Spoke Technologies has built a Web site-building platform on top of Zope. NASA, Red Hat and the U.S. Navy also use Zope. With Zope, developers can include mailing lists and threaded discussions on a site, as well as serve up varied forms of content. It also offers search, membership, Newsgroup and calendar services.