Yearly archives: 2010

Public Funds in the UK: Open Source for Document and Content Management re-visited – Manchester 07/10/10

Triggered by an article in the Guardian, the BCS Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) sponsored a conference earlier this year on 07/01/10 to explore the application of open source tools for content and document management in the public sector. This talk by Graham Oakes the principal organizer of the conference earlier this year on 07/01/10 will summarise some of the conclusions of that conference at a combined event held by OSSG and BCS Manchester on 07/10/10 from around 1815 hours in John Dalton Building, Chester Street/Oxford Road Manchester Metropolitan University Manchester M15 6BH

Is Open Source a viable way for the public sector to contain its IT costs?  Government policy is gradually becoming more favourable to open source (  Many commentators identify open source as a way to contain spiralling project costs (e.g.

For further details please visit:

Open Source Health Informatics – London 30/09/10 1

Paul Richardson will give a talk for the Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) around his recently created which is an expression/discussion focal point on the adoption of Open Source by the NHS.

This  event is free and open to all and will be held at the BCS Central London Offices, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA ( on Thursday 30th September 2010. It will start immediately after the OSSG AGM at 1800 and is expected to finish around 2030.

Free buffet and refreshments available on the night.

To book a place to attend this event please contact Mark Elkins via

Paul’s objective of this meeting is to act as a rallying cry to those who are already convinced (or perhaps still slightly sceptical) of the place that Open Source software should have in UK healthcare, so that a coherent community can be established that can be empowered to spread the word, deal with the objections to open source (genuine or otherwise), and can support each other in projects and deployments.

First, as a scene-setting exercise, Paul will cover the following topics:

·         his assessment of the state of readiness of open source to be applied to the UK healthcare market

·         the willingness of key stakeholders to adopt open source

·         dealing with objections to open source

·         his proposed ‘top 10 projects’

·         progress on his own open source project, an ITK (Interoperability Tool Kit) compliant  middleware solution based on OpenESB

However, as this is intended to be a community building exercise, a significant proportion of the time will be spent facilitating and gaining consensus on issues such as:

·         agreeing priorities

·         how should we organise ourselves and communicate

·         activities

·         what representations we would like to make to the Department of Health

OSSG AGM 2010 – London 30/09/10

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) will be held on Thursday 30th September 2010 from 1800 hours at the BCS Central London Offices, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA.

The procedure governing the AGM is set out in the OSSG Constitution at

An event on Open Source Health Informatics is due to commence immediately after the business of the AGM has been concluded.

Free buffet and refreshments available.

For further information please contact Cornelia Boldyreff, OSSG Secretary via

Open Source Enterprise Architecture Toolkits – London 21/09/10

This presentation will discuss the development of a free-of-charge, open source, multi-user Enterprise Architecture (EA) toolkit. It will discuss its development, how it encapsulates the many years’ experience of EA consultants and reflects their exposure to a number of the major commercial EA toolkits, and its adoption across organizations of varying sizes across the world. The talk will also explain why it was decided to create an open source EA toolkit and how it compares with other similar toolkits.

This  event is free and open to all and will be held at the BCS Central London Offices, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA ( on Tuesday 21sr September 2010. It will start immediately after the BCS Enterprise Architecture Specialist Group AGM at 1800.

To book a place at this event please visit:

The presentation will be given by Alex Mayall who is the Managing Director and Senior Consulting Partner of Enterprise Architecture Solutions Ltd (EAS Ltd), a leading independent enterprise architecture consultancy. For over 20 years Alex has worked at a senior executive level with multinational companies spanning a wide range of commercial and industrial sectors. His consulting experience covered all aspects of business change from competitive strategy through to organizational behaviour and programme management, although his speciality lay in helping organizations improve their performance through the alignment of information technology with business strategy. Prior to 1990, Alex worked in the international chemicals industry in a variety of IT professional and management roles. He has been a Member of the British Computer Society since the mid-1960s.

Open Source articles in ITNow (2010, July, pp.06-25) 1

Dear OSSG member

Just received my July 2010 edition of ITNow and note that there are many pages devoted to Open Source. Unfortunately the BCS Open Source SG (OSSG) were not made aware that ITNow would be covering Open Source.

Therefore I would be interested to know your thoughts on the articles in the July edition of ITNow be they good, bad, or indifferent.

Mark Elkins

Comments received

“First, it was great to see such a focus. However, the articles are quite light-weight but they do make many key points relating to the generic advantages and considerations of embracing open source. Overall they provide a reasonable introduction to the topic however there are clearly many specific topics relating to the exploitation of open source in relation to virtualisation, cloud, satellite server, licensing, support etc that would probably be of much more interest and value to the typical reader.



“I did not find the articles particularly informative, bit of a wasted opportunity in my view.

“A Quiet Revolution”? There’s not much that is quiet about Richard Stallman, or any other FOSS advocate, in fact its hard to shut them up! The quiet revolution was not Open Source, it was Closed Source, some time around the late ’70s to early ’80s. Before then everyone shared code.

Not one mention of the ideological and political reasons for using FOSS. Those are major motivators behind many uses of FOSS. “I like Linux because it is not Microsoft”, how many times have you heard that? Any discussion about the adoption of FOSS is incomplete without it.

Worse was the article on Open Source Software Licenses, clearly Rachel Burnett does not have a clue. It contains phrases like “the OSS license”, as if there is only one! There was not much detail, but it appeared that the GPL was the target license of the article, although that did not get named (the fact that there are several GPL versions is probably over her head). How many OSS licenses are there? Over 300? I have lost track.

Open Source licenses are a minefield, and I would have liked to have seen an informed comparison. I know that the FSF do a comparison, but they tend to be rather biased towards GPL”.


“It is always good to publish the news regarding opensource. that is very much helpful.

Best regards”


“Haven’t received mine yet, but I’ll feed back to you when I do. I have to say I don’t have a lot of hope that it will be inspired articles”.

“When I got home I did read the latest IT Now.  I would prefer to be positive about the issue, but find it hard to be so.
The front page sets the tone.  “Open Source – Now is the time to investigate alternative software solutions” That’s at least 10 years out of date.
The articles have been covered pretty well in other comments, particularly the Securiy one.  Steve Smith seems to have done a bit of a Gerald Ratner for his company – who will use him as a security consultant now?
I felt there was a missed opportunity here.  There were no real life examples.  Open Source is being used extensively today and has been for many years.  Who would run an HTTP server other than Apache?
I was quite excited when I saw the comment “There’s a huge difference between open source and free software…” But there was no explanation after that.  I assume the “free” is free as in beer and “open source” free as in speech, but that never came out.
Over all it makes the BCS look like a bunch of people who can talk business, but wouldn’t know a computer if it hit them in the face and are living sometime in the 1980s or 90s.


“I had intended on commenting via the membership LinkedIn group that I thought the BCS magazine was particularly vacuous this month. The OSS articles I felt were extremely shallow and although they put the case for OSS adoption there was no real analysis or justification. To be perfectly honest July’s ITNow looks more like a glossy brochure for private dental care than a computer society’s members magazine”.


“My thoughts were, is there any open source software that BCS could usefully be using?”


“Did the BCS put any effort at all into contacting the OSSG membership about the latest issue of IT-NOW?

No. Thought not.

I’m not sure I’ll renew my membership. Not happy!

Best wishes”


H made a comment with regard to the article “Can Open Source Be Secure” that appeared on pages 18-19 of the July edition of ITNow and also at :

“I wondered if the OSSG was approached to comment on this article?

Working with OSS in many small and medium businesses, I find many of the
points unfounded and somewhat misleading”.


“”Like most IT Now issues/articles, I’m afraid it’s rather feeble. They seem to write assuming the technical knowledge of a 4th-form GCSE IT student. Mostly harmless vanilla waffle. But the legal article on OSS licenses by “Past BCS President and IT lawyer” Rachel Burnett is appalling – she states without qualification that when you create a derivative work, it must be licensed on the same terms as the original: “This means that any investment in creating commercial software products
which use the OSS source code cannot be realised by charging for use of those products”. How can someone with that level of ignorance become an IT lawyer, let alone BCS President?

But perhaps it was bad sub-editing: since the intro says that she ‘discusses the Open Source Initiative’, but the article only mentions it very briefly in the last paragraph, one suspects that a lot has been cut to make room for a large irrelevant picture of a penguin.””


Quoted from
“I appreciate…comments on the recent ITNow article on Open Source . It is normal practice for the BCS publishing team to consult with our Specialist Groups or other expert members about the topics we cover in the magazine but unfortunately this time a mistake was made and this step was missed , and I apologise for this.

However, this and other recent comments about the content of the magazine have been taken on board and we are reviewing our approach to the magazine to ensure it meets the needs of our members. We are keen that members contribute to this process and have set up a group in the member network to begin discussion on what they want the magazine to be. I hope you will get involved, the group is called ITNow Evolution.

Best wishes.

Elaine Boyes
Head of Publishing and Information Products
BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT”

“I rarely find any article of interest in IT Now since they usually consist of lightly modified corporate marketing pieces, all fluff and no substance. The Open Source issue was equally disappointing because although they did not feel like sales pitches, the articles were vague and anecdotal rather than informative and analytical.  For example, the “Cracking the Desktop” article fails to mention Firefox, one of the most successful open source desktop applications. A case study of the challenges faced in deploying this faster and more secure alternative to older versions of IE would have been informative, yet the article looks at the cost benefits of switching to OpenOffice an obsolete technology compared to online office tools such as Google Docs.

“Can Open Source Be Secure?” also exhibits the lack of editorial rigour in IT Now. The phrase “Experts do not agree” should not be allowed without referencing at least two sources (i.e. the “experts” on either side of the argument) yet the article contains no citations at all. The label ‘Journalist hiding their own opinions by using phrases…’  from should perhaps be applied here.

I have renewed my BCS membership for another year on the basis that my local branch and Specialist Groups provides some value, and I will give the new Academy of Computing project a chance, but my opinion of IT Now is that it is not worth reading.

Best wishes”


Paul Richardson: Open Source Health Informatics 1

Paul Richardson writes:

Some of you may already know about my views on the revolutionary effect that could be triggered by the NHS adopting the use of open source software (and an open source approach to developing its own software). I have not been able to contain myself any longer and so my thoughts are now finding wider expression in a blog that I’ve started:

Earlier today I posted an article on a proposed top 10 open source projects for the NHS. I would be very interested to receive your comments. The idea is to use the blog as a focal point for an emerging community of interested parties until the point in time that a more appropriate rallying point is established.

If you are interested in this subject, you can subscribe to the blog using RSS or follow me on Twitter which I will use to announce new posts.

UKUUG & O’Reilly: Understanding Regular Expressions (properly) Tutorial – London 11/08/10

This one day tutorial will introduce beginner and intermediate Perl programmers to the full functionality of Perl’s regular expressions.
The day focuses on the pattern-matching features in Perl 5.6 and 5.8. The morning session explores the principles and mechanisms underlying all Perl regular expressions. You will see how the highly compact syntax of Perl patterns controls a built-in pattern-matching “engine” and learn how to design and construct Perl regexes to drive that engine efficiently. We will also look at the four principal uses of regexes in Perl, discussing a number of uniquely Perlish regex idioms. By lunch time, Perl’s regexes will no longer seem like a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in line-noise.

See for more information and booking form

External event: Leveraging Open Source Software for Commercial Advantage

Andrew Katz has asked us to pass on details of the above event. Apologies for the short notice!

Andrew Katz, partner at Moorcrofts, and a former programmer himself, will be giving a brief presentation on the practical steps that companies can take to avoid the “viral” issues that many people perceive to be an issue with open source software, and will demonstrate that by taking some simple steps, companies can take advantage of the vast pool of high quality software code and use it to their own commercial advantage, after which he and the rest of the Moorcrofts team will be available to discuss the issues, and there will also be an opportunity to network over a pint and some nibbles.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 6:00 PM (GMT+0100)
George and Dragon The Causeway (Lower High Street)
SL7 2AA Marlow
United Kingdom

Further details at