Nearly 4,000 people have been counted dead and nearly 7,000 injured since a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal on Saturday. A crucial need in any rescue effort — perhaps just as important to saving lives as medical supplies, food, and tents — is an up-to-date map that humanitarian workers can use to more efficiently navigate the rubble.
It seems miraculous that tiny, impoverished Nepal has that. The credit goes to the international community of citizen cartographers behind Open Street Map (OSM), a free, open-data map of the world that anyone can edit or download. For the past few years, people involved with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) and its leading Nepalese partner, Kathamandu Living Labs (KLL), have been digitally mapping the capital city to prepare for an earthquake should one hit (it seemed inevitable, considering that Nepal sits on a major fault line). Now, thanks to their efforts, aid workers with organizations like the Red Cross aren’t getting lost and losing precious time.
Atom Shell is now called Electron. You can learn more about Electron and what people are building with it at its new home electron.atom.io.
An accurate, up to the minute, accessible medical record system is fundamental to effective treatment and tracking of the Ebola virus. But how to create this type of system in the rudimentary, overwhelmed Ebola care centers of West Africa where paper records or computers—even if they were available—couldn't be carried in and out of treatment areas?
As Ebola surged in resource-constrained Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea in the fall of 2014, the ingenious concept of a tablet computer usable by individuals in bulky protective gear and encased in polycarbonate enabling simple and repeated disinfection was developed and implemented by Google and Doctors Without Borders teams, solving the hardware part of the problem.
But what software to use on the specialized tablets and on the server where critical information is stored? Enter the OpenMRS community, who drives the world's largest open source project to develop health information technology for resource-constrained environments.
One of the most important, yet unsung, applications in a software developer’s life is the Make utility, or its equivalent. Make first appeared in 1977 and has been with us ever since. There are a very large number of build utilities, some based on Make, others completely different. The principle remains the same. The build system has a set of rules that tell it how to build an application from source files, usually fetched from a version control system. The Make utility reads the rules, then runs the compilers and linkers to do the build. The really good ones will run tests, as well.
Google has been using their own system, called Blaze, and open-sourced part of it as the anagrammatically named Bazel — recently released at alpha status. In this article I’ll give a general overview of Bazel.
Developers Peter Ivanov, Alex Raikov, and I came up with the idea for Microweber about five years ago, when we were all having problems building sites with the existing solutions.
Microweber aims to take the complexity out of building a website, online shop, or blog, through a combination of drag-and-drop UI and real-time, WYSIWYG site edits.
From the beginning, it's been an open source project. The earliest versions were licensed under GPL, but we switched to Apache License version 2.0 to allow the developers to protect their work and have commercial merits.
Another example of open source: You wouldn’t buy a car with the hood welded shut, so why do we buy proprietary software? If you can’t see what’s going on and see what’s happening under the hood then you’re stuck with the car exactly the way it is and that might not be so great. While some people are fine with that, computer geeks shouldn’t be. We should want to get in there and tinker with it.