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Open Source, Inner Source, and Mobile Development Kit

December 2020: Article by Ben Chantelain, Chief IT Engineer Applications and
Michelle Watson, MCoE Engagement Manager

What is Open Source?

Open source software is freely available software that includes the source code for others to use and modify. In practice, it is much more than free code as it is a community with benefits and risks. Details of this type code development was discussed during the June Community of Practice for Programmers.

What are the benefits and risks?

Benefits of using open source code include efficiency of creating code, visibility of how it is implemented, having a history of changes with discussion, and developing new skills. There are risks such as the a community ceasing to contribute, not having a license properly setup, code can disappear, and community may not play well with others.

How to contribute

If you are interested in getting involved, there are many ways to start. You can begin by asking questions via opening an issue, creating pull requests on GitHub to fix an issue or add a feature, or create your own code.

What is inner source?

Using these same techniques within a company to develop code is called inner source. Usually one team owns the code, with the goal of less redundancy. Mentorship opportunities and learning skills from others can be beneficial to not only the developers but the company as well. Communication is key to success when implementing inner source communities.

MDK is inner source

The MCoE develops and supports 15 active libraries for iOS and 11 active libraries for Android in the Mobile Development Kit (MDK) as inner source. These libraries are available for all KP mobile apps and the code is public within KP so you can look at them with GitHub access. This also means you can make requests for changes and contribute to bug fixes and enhancements. The MDK app is now available as a demonstration of the libraries from the front end as well. Find it in the company app stores!


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