Best of Open Source Software Awards 2009
InfoWorld's 2009 Bossies spotlight today's Top 40 open source products for business and IT prosFollow @infoworld
We're going to dodge all of these questions, at least for now, and stick with InfoWorld's traditional sweet spots of serious business software and serious tools for IT professionals. Thus, the 40 Bossie winners we set here before you include the best free (and sometimes hybrid) open source we know for building and running Web, mobile, and even cloud-based data processing applications; managing and securing business networks; migrating and integrating enterprise data; building and integrating Web services; and meeting business needs for salesforce automation, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, reporting and BI, and business process management.
The iPhone, Android, Palm webOS, BlackBerry, and their app stores have made mobile application development all the rage in the past year, and 2009 marks the first year we award Bossies in that arena: to the PhoneGap development framework and the WebKit browser engine.
Building applications for large-scale, distributed data processing isn't a new thing, but it's becoming more common as organizations try to come to grips with huge volumes of intelligence-packed data (think Facebook's Web logs, for example) and Amazon EC2 and other clouds make it more practical and affordable to do so.
Hadoop and Hive are tools for processing data collections in the terabyte and petabyte range. Hadoop provides a framework that makes it relatively simple to unleash parallel algorithms on large data sets. Hive, which is erected atop Hadoop, fools the underlying distributed file system into seeing tables (rather than stream-accessed files) and lets users execute SQL-like queries against those tables.
Eclipse is a fine IDE in its own right, and some of us have used it repeatedly to build and debug Java applications. But this year Eclipse wins a Bossie for its Web Services Tools plug-in, particularly the Web Services Explorer, which is invaluable in debugging Web services applications. Point the Explorer at a service's WSDL, and it will enumerate all the services available at that endpoint. Launch a request at the service; the Explorer captures the response and displays it either in raw or structured form.
The NetBeans IDE takes our Bossie, thanks to what may be its best release ever. While most free IDEs have stood still or been adding noncore features, NetBeans 6.7 hewed closely to its mission of providing developers with an IDE that works fast and well with multiple languages. This release boosts support for Ruby and JRuby, significantly advances its Groovy capabilities, expands its C/C++ capabilities, and enables unit testing in PHP. It has also expanded project-level tools with built-in support for Maven and seamless integration with projects hosted at Kenai.com, including SCM and Jira interoperability.
Another repeat winner is JBoss Drools, the free open source rival to business rule management systems from IBM/ILOG, Fair Isaac, Oracle, Pega Systems, and others. The great irony behind the "business logic" of business applications is that it is impossible for businesspeople to understand. Rulebase engines such as Drools are designed to change that, presenting business users with an English-like decision language and views into the rules (spreadsheets, flowcharts, and so on) that they can readily understand.