2011 NASA Open Source Summit - Patrick Hogan


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  • Jim Gray was a software genius at Microsoft Research. His job was to do whatever he wanted. His primary research interests were in databases and transaction processing systems -- with a particular focus on using computers to make scientists more productive. He received the Turing Award in 1998, essentially the Nobel for software engineering. In January of 2007 he took his 40-foot sailboat Tenacious on a trip to the Farallon Islands. He never returned. While he was here with us, his mantra was for scientists and engineers to work collaboratively in finding increasingly smarter ways to apply ourselves to large scientific databases. One thing Jim wanted to see delivered was a digital survey of the sky, and if you think of the complexity of space out to the edge of our universe, that’s one heck of a database. In April of 2004 I contacted the Space Telescope Science Institute for how NASA World Wind might visualize the SkyServer and National Virtual Observatory data. They suggested I talk with Jim Gray. As a result and due in great part to Jim’s leadership and Microsoft’s support, in early 2006 World Wind was able to let anyone travel through space and time to the limits of our known universe. The reason this happened was a result of collaborative efforts between the open source community of World Wind hackers (I mean software engineers) and the research scientists who were managing the Sloan Digital Sky Survey database. All this was made possible due to the driving force of one man, Jim Gray, brilliant and ever thoughtful. Now, more than ever we need to rejuvenate his mantra of scientists and engineers working together to solve large problems. Today, we have problems that need Jim’s planetary scale of thinking, such as climate change and clean energy. If World Wind has a mantra, it is to provide the technology needed for scientists and engineers to help us better understand and better live in this world.
  • So here we are today with our task clearly defined, to somehow make it easier for good things to happen.
  • 1. Just making something open source doesn’t make magic happen. You need a good idea and a great platform. 3. We’ll come back to this later. . .
  • 1/2. To effectively harness a community takes a combination of technical leadership (good architecture), interpersonal skills (defusing barroom brawls), organizational skills (benevolent dictator) and sound listening skills (sincerely care for the community’s concerns). 4. MITRE 2003published research, Use of Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) in the U.S. Department of Defense: the first bullet under the topic “How should I create an open source software project?” Use a common, well-known OSS license, LGPL, MIT, BSD-new, Apache 2.0 – don ’t write your own license! Don’t forget the cost of ongoing support, and the constraints caused by wide usage {Only two things to fear, failure and success}
  • 1. In my opinion, this is the most important point to be made here today.
  • World Wind has some pedigree
  • We are often asked ‘What’s different about World Wind?’ World Wind provides the technology for anyone to build an Earth-browser. World Wind lets the larger community focus on their needs, while not having to continually recreate the wheel for 3D visualization.
  • Proof is in the pudding. . .World Wind drives innovation, partnerships drive World Wind. Not exactly perpetual motion, but the next best thing.
  • NASA creates highly sophisticated software and, by definition, it’s typically highly specialized. This means it may not be readily applicable to other uses. NASA software development efforts might inspire greater collaboration with the world community if those efforts were to ‘boil down’ functionalities to an API-centric ‘generic platform’ so that the larger community could readily apply this platform to other applications. This would also benefit ongoing advancement of that ‘generic platform,’ the wheel that need not be reinvented, but only made more round. Because this is an evolving platform it will increasingly serve the needs of NASA and those of the world community. The generic nature to the platform would also help address ITAR issues. This is the approach World Wind has taken, generic technology as an API-centric SDK. After all, the NASA motto is ‘for the benefit of all.’ Lastly and yet again, as MITRE well advised DoD, “Use a common, well-known OSS license. . .don ’t write your own!” NASA software engineers should be able to choose from a suite of approved open source licenses.
  • 2011 NASA Open Source Summit - Patrick Hogan

    1. Patrick Hogan Project Manager World Wind
    3. <ul><li>Find Actionable Solutions to NASA ’ s open source challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Share Lessons Learned building and leveraging open source communities </li></ul><ul><li>Propose Modifications that make it easier for NASA to develop, release, and use open source software </li></ul>
    4. <ul><li>Actionable Solutions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Need an idea good enough to spark a community and an architect great enough to design for the unknown </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lessons Learned </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The idea and platform must inspire a community: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Testing, fast feedback, fixes, fresh ideas, enhancements … </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Extend the value of good (or bad) architecture </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Viral growth (or not) depends on code value to users </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Proposed Modifications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Attractive license is essential </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Unencumbered usage, cost, IP, liability and attribution </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    5. <ul><li>Increased quality but beware chaotic community and patchwork code! </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced development costs but far from free! </li></ul><ul><li>Immediate development cycles but anytime builds can lead to version mush! </li></ul><ul><li>Catalyzes public-private collaboration </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Commercialization of NASA technology needs an attractive license! “Use a common, well-known OSS license , LGPL, MIT, BSD-new, Apache 2.0 – don’ t write your own license!” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>[ MITRE 2003: Use of Fee and Open-Source Software in DoD ] </li></ul></ul></ul>
    6. <ul><li>Provide tools others will find easy to use for their purposes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Simplify your app to essential modules/libraries that can service far more specialized functionality, i.e., a suite of development tools, i.e., an SDK </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Make it API-centric, cross-platform and based on open standards </li></ul>
    7. <ul><li>World Wind Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Spatial Data Infrastructure </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ World Wind is the most widely used software ever produced by NASA” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>[Dr. Patrick Moran, NASA Advanced Supercomputing, Ames Research Center] </li></ul></ul></ul>
    8. <ul><li>API-centric, cross-platform and based on open standards </li></ul><ul><li>World Wind is not an app but a plug-in, if you need a 3D world, just plug it in </li></ul><ul><li>World Wind facilitates innovation, by serving others purposes open and unencumbered </li></ul>
    9. <ul><li>Gives any application the means to visualize and manage real world spatial data and behaviors </li></ul>Real world context Dynamic 4D Interactive analysis
    11. So what are we doing wrong?