On track with its vision for Digital India, the government is aggressively pushing for an increased use of technology to manage internal functions and simplify processes. It has developed such e-governance related technologies but is now promoting the sharing and reuse of its source code. Thus, the government has launched their very own open-source software repository called OpenForge.
This Github for Indian e-governance apps was unveiled by Union Minister of IT Ravi Shankar Prasad and P.P. Chaudhary, Minister of State for Law & Justice and Electronics & IT at the 10th International Conference on e-governance in New Delhi today.
— Digital India (@_DigitalIndia) March 7, 2017
This software repository has been in the works for the last couple of years and is an implementation of Ministry of Electronics & IT’s (MeitY) policy to promote collaborative development by open sourcing code of government platforms. This policy stated that people should be able to access, contribute and reuse customized software resources developed by the government using public money. The said software repository platform, OpenForge, is the first tangible product which had been under internal testing with both a handful of governments and private players.
With this initiative, the government is looking to cut down on fragmentation and duplicity in e-governance projects, while promoting the greater need for standardization and reusability. And it is not looking to make this change alone. The government is now willing to work in collaboration with private organizations, startups or citizens to promote further development of these platforms. This will not only help cut down on time and development costs but its open nature will also spur the creation of innovative e-governance services.
Source code repositories like GitHub and SourceForge have made it possible for millions of open source developers to work collaboratively and share their code. The Government of India wants to emulate some of these trends in the Indian e-governance space with OpenForge.
To build out this platform, the Indian government is said to have drawn inspiration from international technology giants who’ve made some of the largest platforms using open-source software. The website cites examples of open source communities like Linux, Mozilla, Apache, and Android among other to help propel their point. Now, the Indian government is looking to adapt the same ideologies to drive innovation and development using e-governance source code.
Tools & Features
As for the tools available on this platform, which is now live, OpenForge will allow developers to create two types of projects: public and private. While public projects can be created and collaborated on by any individual as long as it is related to e-governance. The private projects, on the other hand, are restricted to the government and not listed publicly. They are available for internal use to the government officials, who look after central code archival and maintenance.
The government has also provided support for Git, which provides each registered user with their own Personal repositories. It packs the same version control and multiple repository features that allow you to continue development of features in separate repositories. You can access these files using OpenForge or any other Git tool. The said platform also includes a document manager that comes in handy when you want to write some text to provide context along with your app.
Also, one of the most important features of the platform would have to be OpenForge Tracker, which allows “for the tracking of various artifacts like bugs, tasks, requirements, etc.” These trackers are automatically created when you start a new project in OpenForge. The government also understands the need for communication while building stuff, so it has provided you with a set of communication tools as well.