The transition of Sidewinder, our semantic web applications viewer, to an open source project is now complete. It took quite a lot of work in a number of different areas, but we’re convinced that this will now help us realise the full potential of the framework.

The first thing that had to be done was of course to ready the code. Phil Booth, the lead developer on the viewer, put a lot of work into general tidying up, reordering components for Subversion, and so on. He also did some important work that takes us in a cross-platform direction, such as removing our dependency on MFC, and putting the platform on top of wxWidgets.

Alongside this work, we also had to spend time looking at the best way to host the code, how to support bug-tracking, where to put discussion forums, and so on. We looked initially at the environments like SourceForge and Google Code that do everything for you, but in the end we liked the look of Trac so much that we felt that was the way to go. And since there seemed to be a number of advantages to hosting our own SVN repositories, we ended up with the following arrangement:

So far this arrangement is working pretty well, and in particular Trac and SVN are a fantastic match.

Getting started with Sidewinder

The fastest way to get started with Sidewinder is to look at the post The 10 minute guide to Sidewinder (or ‘How to turn a web app into a desktop app without programming’) on the swcube site. Not only does it show how to run a web application like Google Reader in its own window, docked to the side of the screen, and set to auto-hide, but it also shows how to turn an iPhone application into a desktop gadget.

Sidewinder can also run embedded in the browser, execute JavaScript applications from the command line, and more, but its ability to run web applications as standalone applications is such a useful feature that it’s an excellent place to start.