Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bodington 2.8 released - now with Apache license

Note: This article was originally posted in the Connect section on the Educause Web site, at: 
However, this address has since become inaccessible, so the post has been reproduced here as an archive with the same date and approximately the same time.

On Monday 2nd October, there was a new release (version 2.8.0) of the Bodington VLE software, now under the Open Source Initiative (OSI) certified Apache 2 license. New features include support for the MySQL database, display of RSS and Atom newsfeeds, with various ways of rendering them and a Peer Marker Tool, whilst other tools have been improved/brought up to date, such as the support to import and export of IMS Content Packages. Further details are available from the official release announcement.

If you want to get up and running quickly, go to the file releases are available from SourceForge at
and select the bodington-quickstart_war, which is a preconfigured version of Bodington consisting of an archived package that you can upload into a Web application server like Tomcat.  The language is technical, but actually there are only a few steps involved, so it only takes a few minutes. It's designed to get you up and running with Bodington with the least possible effort. Instructions are provided in the download.   If you want the very latest builds for Bodington you can obtain them from CruiseControl running on one of our development servers (also available for WebLearn).

To make it even easier to sample a Bodington-based VLE, I'll be bringing to Educause some bootable WebLearn Live CDs based on the Ubuntu Linux distribution, which you can just put into your IBM-compatible PC and boot up. I'll give some out at the poster session on Wednesday evening.  Hope you enjoy the free VLE :-)

However, perhaps of most significance is that Bodington now comes with an Apache 2 License. In practice, there's hardly any change at all in how the software is developed and the conditions attached to it. However, it's actually a very important change and I'd advise any educational establishment(s) wishing to share their software freely to make sure if at all possible that from the outset they have an OSI approved license. Otherwise, you may have to subsequently jump through hoops to transfer to one at a later date or else pay lawyers to establish the case for this being a new OSI approved license on your behalf following the approval process.

The base of Bodington may be instructive here. Bodington was released by Leeds University as open source software in 2001. I remember hearing how Jon Maber and Andrew Booth took the Apache software license and made a few tweaks to ensure that it would satisfy the University's directorate. I don't know what differences they made, but when an open source expert came to examine the license, they said that he didn't recognise it, though strangely it appeared to him more like a BSD license. Although the code was freely available, any legal department of an organisation could not be sure that was indeed legally open source software and the simplest thing to do is to turn to the OSI list and see if it belongs to that list. If not.  So we decided to make a change in the license, requiring consent of all copyright holders involved, which included signatures of those involved in contributing code, so a lengthy process.

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