A short while ago we made the formsPlayer source code available under an open source license, on Google Code. We didn’t announce it widely because we wanted to get the infrastructure right before inviting people in, but it’s something that the team behind formsPlayer have been excited about doing for a while now, for a number of reasons.
The main one is simply that in this day and age, open source is so obviously the way to go; whether it’s government departments, multinational companies, educational establishments or individuals, there seems to be no barrier nowadays to people using open source software in their projects. But perhaps just as important as ‘doing the right thing’ is our desire to enlist help in porting formsPlayer to new platforms. Our team is small, and would never have got formsPlayer to its current enterprise-level standard without the enormous amount of community involvement we’ve received, in the form of testing and bug reports (formsPlayer has been downloaded tens of thousands of times). But that means that we’re missing out on a crucial asset, the involvement of developers. XForms needs to be on more platforms, and in more browsers, and we think that formsPlayer has a major contribution to make to realising that…but it will only be able to make that contribution if the code is open. From the end-user point of view, making the code ‘free’ will probably have little impact; formsPlayer has had a free version available ever since it was first released, and that will obviously continue. And for those who need enterprise-level builds and priority support, we will continue to offer that service. But the team that built formsPlayer has been increasingly providing companies with world-class XForms consultancy, support and training, and in the coming period we intend to put that much more to the centre of what we offer. So over the next few months we’ll be making a number of announcements about new partnerships, new libraries, new tools, and new services. And we’ll also have case-studies on our work in sectors such as the UK insurance industry and banking in the US, just as soon as we can find the time to produce them! We believe that XForms can be central to web and desktop application development over the next decade, and we want to play our part in helping to put it there; taking formsPlayer open source was a significant step towards that.