April 2009

A few short years ago, the term "Internet" reflected the technical savvy sitting at a workstation reading email or using a search engine to find data. Today, people of all ages are using all manner of devices to: obtain public transit directions with Google Maps, share photos using Flickr and videos using YouTube, Tweet their whereabouts, meet new friends through Facebook, and perform countless other activities which have quickly become ubiquitous to every day life.

This new generation of online activities is the result of open APIs, mashups, and rich Internet applications. These concepts are the focus of the April issue of the OSBR. The authors have done an excellent job of taking the editorial theme of "Open APIs" from the mysterious realm of programming into their applicability to daily life and business.

As always, we encourage readers to share articles of interest with their colleagues, and to provide their comments either online or directly to the authors. We hope you enjoy this issue of the OSBR.

The editorial theme for the upcoming May issue of the OSBR is "Open Source in Government" and the guest editor will be James Bowen from the University of Ottawa. Contact the editor if you're interested in a submission for this issue.

Dru Lavigne

Websites and applications on the Web serve significant volumes of data. In the past, this data was hidden behind web pages that only humans could read. This made it difficult for others to reuse this data in other applications, usually involving tedious and volatile web scraping. It also required users to come to your website to access the data, which limited its reach.

The editorial theme of this issue, "Open APIs", presents a recent solution to this problem: providing an open API to your website. The articles in this issue show how companies can make their data more accessible and extend their reach through open APIs. They also discuss the issues and techniques related to the provision and use of open APIs.

This issue has four articles related to the open API theme and two regular contributions. The first article, An Introduction to Open APIs, was written collectively by the students of a course on Web 2.0: Collective Web, which is offered as one of the courses within the Technology Innovation Management (TIM) program at Carleton University. It provides an introduction to the terminology of open APIs and mashups, and discusses the business reasons for opening an API.

The second article, Mapping Mashup Ecosystems, by Michael Weiss of Carleton University, takes an ecosystem perspective on mashups and open APIs. It presents a method for mapping the mashup ecosystem, and discusses the managerial insights we can gain from this analysis.

The third article, Licensing of Open APIs, by G.R. Gangadharan at the Novay Telematica Institute in The Netherlands, examines a topic whose importance will only grow with time, as open APIs and mashups get more ingrained in the way we develop software. It deals with the important issue of protecting the intellectual property contained in open APIs. It gives an overview of open API licensing and provide examples from current open APIs. It also discusses strategic issues of licensing open APIs.

The fourth article, Using JavaScript Toolkits to Create Rich Internet Applications, is written by Owen Byrne, co-founder and original developer of digg.com, and currently Senior Manager of Travelpod Labs in Ottawa. It discusses the selection and use of sophisticated JavaScript toolkits like Prototype and jQuery, which are essential frameworks for writing Rich Internet Applications (RIA) and mashups. It informs us on the importance of open source alternatives to proprietary frameworks for constructing RIAs. It also describes the author's experience in using these toolkits in building a meta-search application for tripadvisor.com.

The fifth article, Measuring Modularity in Open Source Code Bases, by Steven Muegge, a faculty member in the TIM program, and Roberto Milev, a recent graduate from the TIM program, examines how modularity evolves in open source software systems. It provides initial evidence that as a large software system evolves, major architectural changes will first lead to a decrease in modularity, and are then followed by refactoring activities, which increase modularity.

The sixth article, Torys Technology Law Speaker Series: Open Source Licenses and the Boundaries of Knowledge Production, by Byron Thom, a student at the Law Faculty of the University of Ottawa, summarizes a recent lecture given by Michael Madison, Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

I hope you enjoy learning more about this editorial theme as much as we enjoyed putting this issue together. Please feel free to contact the authors or the editors for questions, insights, or comments on this important topic.

Michael Weiss

Guest Editor

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