One of the Open Planets Foundation’s main roles in the SCAPE project is to provide stewardship for, and ensure longevity of the SCAPE software outputs.
The SCAPE project is committed to producing open source software that is available to the wider community on GitHub, with clear licence terms and appropriate documentation, at an early stage in development.
While the above steps are important and helpful in encouraging other developers to download a project's source code, compile it, and try the software, this isn’t an everyday activity for the less geeky members of the digital preservation community. Software in this state is also unlikely to meet with the approval of an institution's IT Operations / Support section.
What’s really required for software longevity is an active community of users who:
Use the software for real world activities in their day to day work.
Report bugs and request enhancements on the project's issue tracker.
Contribute to community software documentation.
So how do we bridge the gap between our current developer-ready software, and software that non-geeks find easy to install and use?
Over October there will be a sustained effort to package, document and publish SCAPE software for download by anybody who wants to try it. If that sounds like you then read on.
Where can I find the SCAPE software?
We have compiled a list of tools that have been developed or extended as part of the SCAPE Project: http://www.scape-project.eu/tools. Currently our software is on the OPF’s GitHub page, though if you’re not comfortable with source code this might not prove very helpful. To help you make sense of what’s on the GitHub page the OPF have created a project health check page, which distills the information a little and provides helpful links to the projects' README and LICENSE files. This page is still a work in progress, so if there’s some information you’d like to see on it you can raise an issue on GitHub.
How do I know that the software builds?
All SCAPE software should have a Continuous Integration build that runs on the Travis-CI site, this means that the software is built every time somebody checks in a change to the source code in GitHub. If the build fails the developer is informed, and corrects the problem as soon as possible. Every project listed on the project health check site has one of these graphics:
indicating the result of the most recent attempt to build the project on Travis, or informs you that a Travis build couldn’t be found. Click on the image and you’ll be taken to the project’s Travis page if you’re interested in the gory details.
So how do I download and use SCAPE software?
Which brings us round to October, where we’ll be fitting the final piece of the puzzle. The real aim of the nightly builds is to build installable packages to be downloaded by you. These packages will be debian apt packages, installable on debian based linux distributions including ubuntu, mint, and of course debian itself.
We’ll be creating stable release packages for download from the OPF's Bintray page, and overnight “snapshot” builds of the current project at a to be decided location. Keep an eye @openplanets and @scapeproject for news and download links over the coming month.
But I use Windows, Mac OS, or another linux packaging system.
Fear not, all is not lost. We’ve chosen debian based linux distros first because:
it simplifies licensing issues for build machines and virtual test and demonstration environments.
debian based distros are among the most widely used linux distributions.
Hadoop, the engine that runs SCAPE’s scalable platform, has historically not played well with Windows, although this is no longer such a problem.
Some of the software will run on other platforms easily, Jpylyzer is available for Windows. Others may require a little more work, but if there’s interest and it’s practical we’ll do our best. We’re trying to establish a community of users, not exclude people.
So that’s why SCAPE software needs you, hopefully as much as you need SCAPE software.